As the world prepared for a blockbuster sports schedule, the business cogs behind the athletes kept on turning, and as always, politics was inextricably linked.
In the UK, the second quarter of the year saw some welcome news as football came home when England was chosen as host of the 2022 UEFA Women’s European Championship, as the ‘Lionesses’ ultimately won the competition beating Germany 2-1 in the final at Wembley.
However, the legacy of the European Super League (ESL) fiasco was still being felt in the country, and emotions were still high after six of the most popular English clubs attempted to break away from the Premier League.
As a result of the fan backlash, the DCMS announced plans for an independent football regulator in late April, charged with financial oversight of clubs, including information gathering, investigation and enforcement powers.
The top flight, however, was not welcoming of the proposal, describing it as unnecessary, whilst its clubs would later fall under the DCMS regulatory spotlight once again over the issue of betting sponsorships.
An industry which is inextricably linked to sports, betting has experienced both expansion and criticism over the past year. In May, the government and Premier League entered into discussions over the removal of betting sponsorships, although the following month, the DCMS revealed that proposed measures could not be as extensive as was once thought.
Betting companies would face their own hurdles during this period as well, when the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) updated its rules to ban the use of sports stars in gambling advertising.
On the other hand, the US sports betting space continued to grow and a major victory for the industry occurred in April, as the NCAA approved wagering on its events.
However, in other areas of sports, hurdles remained – Liverpool fans would have to bypass some in the form of turnstiles in June, when a large number of supporters were unable to access the Stade de France in Paris for the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid.
UEFA would later begin a report into the final, with Liverpool FC Chairman Billy Hogan stating he was ‘horrified’ by the way some fans were treated by stadium staff and police, whilst in an interview with Insider Sport, YellowHeart CEO Josh Katz, outlined how blockchain technology could help solve ticketing problems.
From a commercial perspective, a range of sporting stakeholders looked to enhance their operations this year, notably DAZN, which began putting plans in place to launch a sportsbook unit, appointing former Entain executive Sandip Tiku as its Chief Technology Officer.
2022 has also seen DAZN maintain momentum on its flagship sports broadcasting product, such as securing the rights to UEFA Nations League, European Qualifiers and International Friendlies in Canada.
Another company which kept its foot on the gas this year was Sportradar, which revealed in its Q1 trading update – published in May – that revenue had risen by 31% year-on-year from $186.4m €167.9m (2021: $186.4 million).
Meanwhile, Channel 4 continued to add to its ever-growing sports portfolio, bringing the UEFA Nations League free-to-air to UK viewers, alongside international friendlies, under a contract in place until 2024.
Lastly, from a football business perspective, 2022 has closed similarity to how it began, awash with talk of takeovers of historic English clubs. The past month has seen Liverpool and Manchester United examine prospective bidders, but back in Q2 it was Chelsea which was on the market.
The West London club was put up for sale by by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, and terms for a £2.5bn buyout by Todd Boehly were agreed in May, after a bid by Martin Broughton – backed by Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams – was unsuccessful.