Americas Bulletin: Liberty completes F1 buyout; Raiders punt for Vegas; CFU power struggles and more

SportsPro’s Americas Bulletin, dishing up a regular diet of news, views and insight from across the business of sport in the Western Hemisphere.

Americas Bulletin: Liberty completes F1 buyout; Raiders punt for Vegas; CFU power struggles and more

Liberty Media completed its US$8 billion takeover of Formula One this week and the series’ new American owners have quickly set about ushering in a new era for the sport. Some four decades after taking the helm, 86-year-old Bernie Ecclestone has officially been replaced by Liberty’s chosen one, Chase Carey, who had already been appointed as chairman of Formula One Group and will now also serve as its chief executive.

The move, announced just days after Liberty finalised its acquisition, signals the intent of the new ownership to make radical changes to the way the sport is run. Previous rumours had suggested that Ecclestone would be kept on for two or three years to allow for a transitional period. He has instead been given the title of chairman emeritus, but will play no part in the decision-making process or day-to-day running of the group.

Ecclestone's role, which saw him operate both the commercial and sporting arms of the business, has been devolved by Liberty, with two industry veterans stepping in. Former ESPN boss Sean Bratches (left) has been named as managing director of commercial operations, while F1 stalwart Ross Brawn becomes managing director of motor sports. In a statement issued shortly after Monday’s announcement, Ecclestone declared himself "proud of the business that I built over the last 40 years and all that I have achieved with Formula One”.

In the ever-shifting landscape of the National Football League (NFL), the Oakland Raiders have formally applied to relocate to Las Vegas after failing to find a replacement for their ageing home stadium, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Relocation requires approval from at least three quarters of the league’s 32 teams, whose owners could vote on the move as early as March, when they are due to meet in Phoenix. The Raiders, who had until 15th February to file relocation papers, have been promised a record US$750 million in public funding to construct a proposed US$1.9 billion, 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas, but there remain several questions surrounding the move.

Chief among them concerns the fact that the Las Vegas stadium project is backed to the tune of US$650 million by Sheldon Adelson (right), the chairman and chief executive of casino resort developer Las Vegas Sands Corporation. It is unclear whether Adelson is pursuing a stake in the Raiders in return for his investment but if he is, the NFL would have a tough decision to make. In a league notoriously wary of Nevada’s approval of sports betting, one that prohibits owners from having direct interest in gambling organisations, would NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and team owners be willing to accept a casino magnate into their ranks?

Elsewhere, the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) has initiated a plot to break away from Concacaf and form a seventh Fifa confederation, with the regional body’s hierarchy said to be fed up of being subjugated and financially starved by their North American counterparts. CFU president Gordon Derrick (below), who was notably barred from running for the Concacaf presidency last spring after failing an integrity check, oversaw an executive committee summit in Miami last week, during which he was said to have received backing for a split from 26 of the CFU’s 31 members. 

The CFU’s mooted breakaway is being proposed in a bid to wrest back greater control of funding and youth development, and comes after two disgraced former Concacaf presidents, Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago and the Cayman Islands' Jeffrey Webb, were indicted on counts of corruption in 2015, leaving a power vacuum that saw Canada’s Victor Montagliani elected as the confederation’s new leader last May. Montagliani, a self-proclaimed reformist, is in the process of cleaning up Concacaf’s image following the malpractice of past regimes, and his continued reluctance to hand over any decision-making power to the CFU is being seen as punishment for his Caribbean predecessors’ much-publicised transgressions.

Also this week: the National Basketball Association (NBA) and its players' union, the NBPA, formally approved the terms of their new seven-year collective bargaining agreement, bringing to an end a process that proved serene and democratic from the outset; brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, maker of the beer brand Budweiser, announced its decision to end its sponsorship of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) after 33 years, citing a shift in marketing strategy; and Los Angeles’ bid for the 2024 Olympics took another step forward after the LA City Council voted unanimously to approve a memorandum of understanding that would provide financial safeguards for the city should it be chosen to host the Games.