Football

Sports Illustrated defines our woke age

You have to hand it to society nowadays. So desperate are people to appear virtuous they will go above and beyond to prove themselves worthy. Sports awards tend to be a mix of on-field performance and off-field service to promote the game for the greater good.

Megan Rapinoe has won the Sports Illustrated 2019 Sportsperson of the Year. Yes, the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) has won the Soccer World Cup back to back. It is an admirable achievement even though the USWNT were defeated 5-2 by a bunch of 14yo boys from Dallas.

260m watched the Women’s Soccer World Cup final in 2019. The 2018 men’s World Cup in Russia saw 1.12bn tune in for the final. 4.3x the audience. Sponsors are well aware of this and tailor advertising dollars accordingly. If the women’s teams garnered more eyeballs, we can be guaranteed women would be paid more.

Unfortunately, Rapinoe is such a dreadful role model for children even though she ticks the diversity and LGBT boxes. Her profanity-laden victory parade speech (in front of kids) after the World Cup win (from 6:30 in the video) was all class. All about identity politics and screaming for “equal pay” even though the stats reveal the USWNT gets more funding than the men’s team (USMNT). The USMNT generates more revenues, despite the poorer results.

Yet Rapinoe defines the age. All about equal pay regardless of revenue generated. Perhaps every soccer player in the world should be benchmarked against Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus. Perhaps his 81mn Twitter followers and talent allow him to charge a premium for his services which the market is willing to bear i.e. $108mn in 2019. Neymar should be up in arms for the pithy $90m at Real Madrid! Surely those on the bench should be protesting the fact they aren’t on an even playing field! Equal Pay, Equal Pay!

If Sports Illustrated truly wanted to brand a female success story in sports against the odds and shove it in the face of the white patriarchy, they could have championed the brilliance of 21yo Spanish rider Ana Carrasco, who became the first-ever woman to win a world motorcycle racing championship competing alongside men. She won the World Supersport 300s crown. If there was ever a better display of rising to a challenge in a sport dominated by males, this was it! She beat them all! More than that she embodies great sportsmanship.

CM wrote in January about her first-ever race win last year on equal machines with the boys. Shows that grit, determination and skill can make the difference without this recent desire to throw handicaps to even it out. Great job indeed to win on identical bikes.

Rapinoe is a talent in her own right. No one can dispute that. It is just a shame that it comes with all unnecessary identity politics based bluster.

Perhaps Sports Illustrated should heap lashings of praise on the Football Federation of Australia’s (FFA) kneeling at the altar of political correctness by carrying through with equal pay. Little does the FFA realise that pandering to social justice does nothing to win over fans. Because if the right talent isn’t paid accordingly, an overseas league will quickly bid the best players away and hollow out the local market. Attendance will drop and the revenues and sponsorship dollars will dry up with it. Doesn’t require rocket science.

The Aussie women’s Matildas achieved a peak crowd attendance of 16,829. The men’s Socceroo team saw 77,060 supporters at ANZ Stadium on 15 November 2018. 4.6x more fans watched the men’s national team over the women’s. It is nothing to do with gender. Fans prefer watching the men’s game, including women. Because of that, sponsors are willing to pay for greater exposure.

That isn’t casting aspersions on the female players per se. It is just that sports will always be driven by the sponsorship dollar. In certain fields, men get paid more than women. Perhaps male supermodels should take umbrage that Kate Moss gets paid multiples more for the same job.

Linius Tech – video Spotify on steroids

Linius.png

CM added Linius Tech (LNU.AX) to the SMSF today. Another diamond in the rough listed on the ASX. LNU basically does the following with its Video Virtualisation Engine (VVE),

[Linius empowers you] to instantly search the data within your video, and programmatically assemble the ultra-granular results, for the first time. Imagine the possibilities. Effortlessly give every viewer the exact video content they want in milliseconds – delivered as a single video ready for immediate playback on any web-enabled device or platform. No human hands required.”

Essentially users get to have their own custom TV channel. A good video example can be found here. The added bonus is that advertisers would be able to even better target audiences by knowing individual preferences.

So a football fan can say: ‘I want to watch all the highlights from these six teams that are my favourites and in particular every time one of ten players scores a goal or gets a red card or a yellow card.”

Sports betting – Betting on horse racing generates over $116B in annual revenues globally. One could easily search which horse in a race is best suited to particular conditions. The more punters can use technology to finesse betting, the more likely they are to place bets. LNU announced in September 2019 that it has partnered with Racing.com to deliver a range of virtual video experiences to Racing.com viewers. Linius has entered into a Master Services Agreement with SportsHero (ASX:SHO)

LNU even works in education. Students often spend hours combing through recorded lectures, just to find small nuggets of information. Linius flips that experience on its head. It allows students to search and find any object – from text to audio and even facial recognition – across any video source.

Law enforcement – LNU connects the dots by automatically detecting related activities, objects or incidents from an infinite number of video streams and archives. Flagging a person for suspicious activity, then submitting a search for archived footage of the same individual. Immediately identify any other instance in which the person of interest has appeared across any video archives – even footage from different systems in separate locations and agencies. Now that’s high-impact, real-time intelligence sharing. And, because Linius is AI and analyst toolbox agnostic, it easily integrates with government-approved solutions like Darknet/YOLO, Caffe and Tenserflow.

Media & News – For the first time, media outlets can provide every viewer with a hyper-personalized video newsfeed. It’s the single biggest change in news video delivery – ever. Linius is the only one doing it. Think of all those chronic Trump Derangement Syndrome sufferers who could search their inner rage using Linius enabled devices.

The company is partnered with Amazon Web Services, IBM and Microsoft. The company holds patents in the US, EU, Canada, S. Korea, PRC, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and India.

This stock has been clubbed toward all-time lows. It most recently capped off a $4.5mn cap raise.

Given that we all observe many people nose deep in video feeds, this technology will allow them to tailor feeds to their liking. Broadcasters can charge circa $5pcm per subscriber and or use an ad-funded model; There are 1.8 billion sports subscribers. The European Premier League alone generated £2.8B in broadcast revenue in 2016-2017.  The global value of sports media rights reached $49.53B in 2018 of which soccer accounts for 40%.

At 3.5c, and contracts already signed with an Asian and soon to be EU broadcaster, this thing looks a ridiculously overlooked stock. On a DCF basis with a 20% discount rate, it looks fair value at around c.30c.

Daft way to run a business

Why the celebration? CM is all for equal opportunity. Just not equal outcome. As CM said at the time of the US soccer team’s whinging over equal pay, if Megan Rapinoe and team make more revenues and broadcasting rights, pay them “more” than their male counterparts, not the same. Who could forget the almost North Korean level chants of “equal pay” during the Women’s World Cup this year?

How is equal pay remotely sensible for the Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) women’s team, the Matildas? Surely within the women’s team, there are proper stars and average players. Will those pay rates be equalised? So that the women’s soccer supremo that scores the most goals and achieves the highest number of tackles gets paid the same as the forward who can’t score and can’t defend to save herself? Who do the fans want to see? Who powers the turnstiles?

Look to other sports. Lewis Hamilton in F1 gets paid multiples more than fellow competitor, Romain Grosjean. Same job, Same conditions. Same everything. Yet, the 6x world champion gets factor fold levels of advertising dollars, hence he also banks that in his contract. Marc Marquez, the 8x world champion in MotoGP gets paid a fortune. Whereas Tito Rabat does not. Maybe because he is leading most of the time that the race coverage is focused at the front, rather than the back. It is all based on performance and TV exposure. Michael Jordan, Shaq, A-Rod and so on. The cream always gets paid what the market will bear. Some might call the $100mn that Ronaldo gets paid at Real Madrid as excessive but the club wouldn’t pay it if his magic didn’t cover the bills.

Ronaldo has 78 million Twitter followers vs his Real Madrid captain, Sergio Ramos who has a pitiful 16m. Surprise, surprise. Ronaldo makes more. Rapinoe has 899,700 followers. Should she get paid the same as Ronaldo? US men’s soccer team player Landon Donovan has 1.4m followers. Does the USSF see that the box office is sadly still skewed to the men’s game?

Once again, 260m watched the Women’s Soccer World Cup final in 2019. The 2018 men’s World Cup in Russia saw 1.12bn tune in for the final. 4.3x the audience.

To quote the Football Federation of Australia’s annual report of 2018,

Sydney FC had the honour of hosting the Westfield W-League 2018 Grand Final against
Melbourne City FC at Allianz Stadium. In front of a vocal crowd of 6,025.

Six thousand. Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle can feel a bit better about the abysmal attendance rugby has at home for the domestic series.

The men’s Melbourne Victory vs Newcastle Jets soccer final in 2018 saw 29,410 fans attend that match. 5x that of the women’s final.

Same for the Matildas. They achieved a peak crowd attendance of 16,829. The men’s Socceroo team saw 77,060 supporters at ANZ Stadium on 15 November 2018. 4.6x more fans watched the men’s national team over the women’s. It is nothing to do with gender. Fans prefer the men’s game. Because of that, sponsors are willing to pay for greater exposure.

This is not to denigrate the Matildas. It is to point out that this constant pandering to “equal pay” is a disastrous way to win over fans. Because if the right talent isn’t paid accordingly, an overseas league will quickly bid them away and hollow out the local market. Attendance will drop and the revenues and sponsorship dollars will dry up with it. Doesn’t require rocket science.

Still, get woke, go broke. The Wallabies are proof is in the pudding for management that focuses on inclusivity and diversity instead of accepting reality of what actually pays the bills – the fans. The financials continue to deteriorate.

By all means, if the Matildas smash the Socceroos for revenue, viewership and broadcasting rights then by all mean pay them more, not the same. Welcome to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Australia in 2019 where virtue signalling means more than merit.

Just watch the mainstream media gush at how progressive the FFA is before realising in years to come just how regressive it eventually becomes for the game and how could it have happened?

Celebrating like champions?

Image may contain: 4 people, people standing and text

Good to see the World Cup victory hasn’t gone to their heads.

USWNT score predictable own-goal

It was no surprise but the USWNT decided to avoid the invitation to the White House. Yet if these superstars truly can’t stand the democratically elected leader of the country they represent, why not use the opportunity to prosecute their convictions face-to-face instead of acting to the level they criticize him for?

If these people want to oust him in 2020, showing their love of self over love of country will only backfire when people mark their ballot papers. For world champions they really know how to kick the ball in the back of their own net.

Forbes addresses the equal pay argument in soccer

Forbes has thrown light on the gender pay gap in women’s soccer. The numbers are rather telling. As CM has always stated, if the earn more than then men they should Ben paid more, not equally. Journalist Michael Ozanian notes,

France earned $38 million from FIFA for winning soccer’s World Cup in Russia, while the women’s champion in France this summer will earn just $4 million, has prompted outrage…

…The total prize money for the Women’s World Cup in France this July will be $30 million compared with total prize money of $440 million for the men’s teams at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar…

…The men still pull the World Cup money wagon. The men’s World Cup in Russia generated over $6 billion in revenue, with the participating teams sharing $400 million, less than 7% of revenue. Meanwhile, the Women’s World Cup is expected to earn $131 million for the full four-year cycle 2019-22 and dole out $30 million to the participating teams.”

Thanks to JL for the flag.

High Priest of Rugby Australia hits the nail on the head

If Rugby Australia (RA) Chairman Cameron Clyne had a decent product he wouldn’t need to worry about sponsors. Sponsors want brand exposure. That requires packed crowds following the Wallabies.

Some quick facts since 2014 vs 2018.

-Wallabies team costs (coach, support etc) +70% ($9.97m)

-Match day revenue -42.1% ($20.17m)

-Sponsorships -11.5% ($28.23m)

-Player contracts +3.2% ($16.79m)

– Licensing revenue -12.9% ($1.67m)

– RA has $18m in cash and equivalents as at 2019.

– RA made $5.87m net profit in 2018 on $119m of revenue but is expected to post a loss in 2019.

The SMH points to the very problems that RA has created for itself. To take the notion that “no” sponsors would want to be associated had they done nothing is absolute garbage. The Australian Christian Lobby might fill the Qantas void…

Does Clyne honestly believe that LGBT staff within RA may have sued it for not creating a safe and respectful environment had Folau not been shot? What a joke. If it is that easy to get a payout, CM would identify as such to ride that gravy train. How weak is the board to fold to this dross?

Did RA do anything when Pocock was arrested for chaining himself to an excavator for 10 hours at the Maules Creek mine? He was charged with “trespass, remaining on enclosed land without lawful excuse and hindering the working of mining equipment.” Raelene Castle wasn’t CEO at the time but Cameron Clyne, Paul McLean and Ann Sherry were and still are board members. Where is the balance in sanctions handed out? Wasn’t there a risk the climate skeptics inside RA might sue for the lack of a respectful environment?

Clyne also mentioned there was a risk of state and federal funding cuts if this wasn’t dealt with. In 2018, these grants totaled $3.5m out of total revenues of $119m. Less than 3%.

Once again if RA was run for the fans it would stand a far higher chance of not needing to fear its own shadow.

Alinta Energy sponsors Cricket Australia post the cheating scandal with the cheats still representing their country. Is cheating any better or worse than tweeting passages paraphrasing the Bible? The point is sponsors took advantage.

Here’s a suggestion. Put Folau back, sack Cheika based solely on (lack of) performance, drop Hooper, Foley and all the other publicly woke players to the bench, replace the board, CEO and chairman, call Qantas’ bluff and watch the fans flood back. A sponsor that is presented with an opportunity to back the team at its nadir will reap the benefits like Alinta.