This week, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal released their annual rankings of the most influential people in sports. The list is here. The top of the list (up 29 places from last year) was IOC chairman Jacques Rogge. The main reasoning behind this choice seems to be that the people who did the rankings believe that Rogge was responsible for steering the selection committee away from selecting Chicago for hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics games, and giving the games to Rio. The Sports Business Journal hints that this was the biggest impact on the sports industry, because it cost the U.S. potentially thousands of jobs, $250 million in media rights, and $1.2 billion in sponsorship deals. I found this to be a very interesting reasoning for choosing Rogge as the most influential person in sports (and the sudden jump in his ranking).
While it is clear that the ranking is more about the most influential sports business person in North America, I don’t know if Rogge really should be considered the most influential person in sports business, and if he should be the one blamed for losing all the jobs and potential revenue. From what I have read, it would seem that the hosting of the Olympics usually causes more financial troubles than anything else, and while there are some qualitative/psychological benefits to residents of cities hosting Olympic games, in general avoiding hosting games may be better for cities. With that said, the power Rogge has is quite extensive and he probably should be on the list.
At #2 Roger Goodell, head of the National Football League (NFL). Even in spite of the recession, Forbes valued the average franchise in the NFL at $1 billion. Under Goodell’s charge the value of NFL franchises has indeed risen. The Cowboy’s may be the most valued team in the world at $1.7 billion thanks to the new state of the art stadium which the team plays in.
The newcomer this year: #20 Sepp Blatter. With the U.S. potentially having a good chance for hosting the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup, and Sepp Blatter’s visit to the White House to talk to Obama earlier this year, all the sudden Sepp Blatter has become an influential power in the North American sports business landscape.
My big wonder would be how these rankings would change if one considered international sports business. Surely many of the owners of Premiership and European sports clubs would rank high on the scale, especially considering how much a single owner can affect the transfer market by paying high prices to bring in star players to their club. Of course another man who would make the list would most likely be UEFA chairman Platini, who wants to kill the spending and excessive transfer fees.
While some American sports owners such as Jerry Jones made the Sports Business list, one owner who didn’t was Malcom Glazer. While Glazer’s Tampa Bay Bucs may “only” be worth around $1 billion, he is more famous in Europe for being the American owner of Manchester United. In big news this week it has been rumored that a group of Chinese investors has offered $1.6 billion for Manchester United, which would be the biggest buyout in sports history. A spokesperson for Glazer has said he will not be selling the club, however this comes in the midst of Manchester United going through some refinancing of the $700 million debt which came with the purchase of the club. Stay tuned to see how this deal shakes out, I wonder if Glazer is just holding out for more money. Considering the amount the Chinese investors seem to be willing to pay, it would be quite a deal for Glazer, even considering the massive debt which exists from his purchase of the team.
I also wonder how the Premier League and UEFA feel about this bid from Chinese investors, especially considering the gambling and match-fixing problems in European football which are being traced back to China, as I discussed in this post.