UEFA Deal Offers Risk, Big Potential Reward for CAA

MESSI

(from Sports Business Journal, October 8, 2012) UEFA chose the newly created CAA Eleven, subsidiary of CAA Sports, to exclusively sell the commercial rights for Euro 2016 and qualifying events for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.  CAA Eleven was chosen over more established candidates IMG and Sportfive, respectively.  This is the largest global commercial rights assignment for CAA Sports, who also represents soccer powerhouses FC Barcelona and FC Chelsea for property sales.  This move is seen by most experts as a gamble that could potentially become a huge reward in the popular global soccer business.

UEFA decided to centralize the rights to tournaments last year and opened bidding to outside companies. The chance to gain these exclusive commercial rights drew interest from a number of companies over an 8 month process.   Interested firms submitted written proposals at the beginning of the process, then a select few finalists where picked to give a presentation in person.  CAA Eleven will be based in the same location as UEFA, in Nylon, Switzerland.  CAA Eleven will hire a staff of 40-50 people that will be solely dedicated to managing broadcasting, sponsorship, and licensing of these tournaments.  There isn’t an approximate amount to how much the rights are worth, but this past summer Euro 2012 generated over $1.6 billion in revenue.

Euro 2016 will expand from to 31 matches to 51 matches, generating even more revenue and pressure for CAA Eleven.  The 31 matches played in Euro 2012 over a 3 week period drew a global television audience comparable to the Super Bowl.  “We underestimate in the United States the power of football generally and European specifically, worldwide,” said Michael Rubel, CAA Managing Director.  No financial details have been released on the deal, but it is assumed CAA Eleven will charge a performance-based percentage fee.

This move solidifies CAA’s attempt at becoming a major player in global soccer commercial sales.  CAA Eleven will market among the most significant global rights in all of sports.  While some wonder if a company starting from scratch can turn this large risk into a sizeable reward, time will only tell.