The curtain is beginning to close on what has been not just another active year of sports on the field but also behind the scenes, with key stakeholders clinching deals and making the big decisions which put the show together.

Looking back at the past 12 months, Insider Sport takes a look at some of the key takeaways our team has learned from some of the leading sports business figures. Kickstarting the year, the monolithic event of the FIFA World Cup was the subject of one of our first analyses.

Reflecting on the tournament, Sport1 Median AG Executive Board Member Dr Matthias Kirschenhofer, LiveScore Sportsbook Director James McKay and Star Sports’ Managing Director Russell Candler offered insights into the World Cup experience from a business perspective.

Looking on to the next World Cup, Janis Burke of the County Houston Sports Authority broke down how Houston is preparing to take on hosting duties for the 2026 edition of the world’s biggest sporting event.

“We know this will be the largest event in World Cup history with the expanded number of teams participating and the first time having three countries involved in hosting,” she said. 

“We believe that the close proximity of Houston to Mexico and Dallas will work in our favour.”

Whilst the allure of the World Cup and the international stage is hard to resist, it is important to remember that it is the domestic football season that keeps the sport ticking all year round – and this was not lost on Insider Sport.

Also keeping sport ticking in the modern era is technology – and AI has caught everyone’s attention this year. Thomas Barnden, Swansea City AFC Head of Performance, shared his views on how adoption of this tech can drive football forward.

Lastly, the football front saw the strong links between betting and the beautiful game continue in 2023, although in the case of the UK and other markets such partnerships have come under increasing regulatory pressure.

In Scotland, Kindred made the move to swap brands in its sponsorship deal with Rangers FC, changing the club’s partner from 32Red to Unibet. Social responsibility plays a huge role in this arrangement, the firm’s UK Marketing Manager, Jamie Moniz, emphasised.

Continuing the focus on the betting scene, engagement between US bookmakers continued to accelerate, leading to their market expanding to over 36 states since the repeal of PASPA in 2018.

For German-founded sportsbook Tipico, a core marketing partnership was with NASCAR, and the firm’s Senior Business Development Executive, Matt Stallknecht, offered some insights into the arrangement.

In the UK, a different kind of racing came under our spotlight – greyhound racing. The sport has a strong pedigree in the UK, but like its horse racing counterpart, it has been facing difficulties in recent years.

Lord David Lipsey, Chair of Premier Greyhound Racing (PGR), shared how the sport is seeking to engage new audiences and grow its profile, speaking ahead of the hugely impactful publication of the UK Gambling Act Review White Paper.

Lastly, whilst many European bookmakers are looking to US opportunities, some US sports leagues are looking to their prospects in the Old World, and none are more high-profile than the NFL.

Following the expansion of the NFL Foundation from London to Birmingham and Manchester, Henry Hodgson, NFL UK General Manager, emphasised the importance of this project to the potential launch of an NFL franchise in the UK.

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