As we approach the end of 2020, Insider Sport is looking back at the top stories from each month of what has been a turbulent year.
Next up, we review the months of September and October, which saw women’s football receive a significant boost as supporters prepared to return to sporting venues overseas and one MLB team was put up for auction.
Autumn marked a period of transition for women’s football, with the FA unveiling its new sustainable strategy – ‘Inspiring Positive Change’ – to grow and safeguard the women’s game. The plan, laid out by the governing body, focussed on participation, development, elite leagues, and coaching and refereeing among other key remits.
The FA also named Vitality as the new title sponsor for the Women’s FA Cup, with the health and life insurance firm’s Managing Director Nick Read stating that there had ‘never been a more important time’ to get involved with women’s sport, having appointed ex-England international Alex Scott as its ambassador earlier in the month.
Everton FC Women struck ‘the biggest commercial deal in the women’s team’s history’ with telecom MegaFon and hot on the heels of this announcement, football-specific media company Dugout released figures which exhibited increased content engagement within women’s football, with video views increasing by 700% in the previous 12 months.
The first rumblings of the Premier League’s pay-per-view (PPV) broadcast arrangements could be heard in October, as the league met to discuss the widely criticised model. The top flight opted to stick by PPV, much to the discontent of football supporters who slammed the price, but later reconvened and scrapped the model.
Many clubs, such as RB Leipzig, prepared to welcome supporters back through the turnstiles amid the COVID-19 pandemic, only for fans to be banned once again from attending sporting events.
The Bundesliga side put new measures in place and it was reported that up to 8500 could be allowed to attend the season opener against FSV Mainz 05 on September 20. However, at the end of October, German and Swiss governments ordered all football fixtures and other sporting events to be staged behind closed doors after a surge in coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi topped Forbes’ annual ‘World’s Highest-Paid Soccer Players’ list for 2020 after it was disclosed that the Barcelona ace would be expected to earn $126 million by the end of 2020 with $92 million on salary alone.
Elsewhere, another top flight footballer invested his fortune into one of the EFL’s League Two clubs. Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin became the second largest stakeholder in Forest Green Rovers, the first fully vegan and carbon-neutral sports club in the world.
A flurry of other professional athletes also dipped their toes into the expanding esports market. Real Madrid midfielder Casimiro launched his own esports team, CaseEsports, to ‘lead the European esports scene’, and David Beckham’s Guild Esports organisation signed a £3.6 million sponsorship deal with an anonymous backer.
Furthermore, the sale of Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise the New York Mets to American billionaire Steven Cohen was set in motion, after a bid reportedly worth estimated $2.4 billion was agreed between Sterling Partners, with the sale of the team approved later in November.