Americas Bulletin: Concacaf counts cost of reform; Dryworld deflated; Bowman steps aside 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: Concacaf counts cost of reform; Dryworld deflated; Bowman steps aside and more

Make no mistake, 2015 will go down as a year to forget for Concacaf. But even while it scrambled to get its house in order following the arrests of several corrupt executives, the embattled confederation still managed to turn a handsome profit. According to Inside World Football, Concacaf pulled in some US$100.5 million last year, up from just US$32 million in 2014, largely on account of staging the Gold Cup, its flagship national team competition.

It was, though, the body’s outgoings that painted the clearest picture of its annus horribilis. Of the US$100.5 million, US$52.4 million was expensed to ‘programme services’ while US$31.1 million went on ‘support services’ such as administrative costs required to help clean up the scandal-hit confederation. And then, of course, there were the hefty legal fees: when Concacaf member associations convened to approve the 2015 audited financial statements in Miami on Saturday, they learned how ‘investigation and reform implementation’ costs had risen from US$42,665 in 2014 to a whopping US$10.2 million last year.

“We are building a new culture on the principles of transparency, accountability, and solid leadership,” insisted Concacaf president Victor Montagliani (left), who presided over the body’s 13th extraordinary congress last weekend. “Our aim is to define our relationship with all associations and every member of the football community, by service and not by power.”  

Spare a thought, if you will, for Dryworld Industries. 2016 looked to be the year in which the little known footwear and apparel brand, founded by two former rugby players in 2010, would emerge from Canadian obscurity to take on the might of the global sportswear giants. Around the time of its Brazilian launch in the New Year, the company from Vancouver Island heralded its arrival by signing lucrative, eyebrow-raising kit deals with Campeonato Brasileiro soccer sides Fluminense, Goiás and Atlético Mineiro. Then, in the spring, the brand made its first foray into the European market by snaring major contracts with English clubs Watford and Queens Park Rangers, and even entered India in July thanks to a new partnership with Delhi Dynamos.

Fast forward to today, however, and Dryworld is in retreat. Financial difficulties at the company have led to delays in merchandise deliveries and unpaid sponsorship fees, which in turn have left all six of its soccer deals in serious jeopardy. This week, Atlético Mineiro confirmed they had terminated their agreement and struck a new tie-up with Topper, while across the Atlantic Watford switched to Adidas and QPR were said to be considering legal action.

Elsewhere, pioneering Major League Baseball (MLB) executive Bob Bowman (right) is to step down from his role running BAMTech, the league’s video streaming subsidiary, according to Bloomberg. Bowman has reportedly decided to step aside having spun the business off from MLB Advanced Media last year and after selling a one-third stake to the Walt Disney Company for US$1 billion in August. Bowman will, however, continue to oversee Advanced Media, which he has run since its creation 16 years ago, whilst retaining his position on the BAMTech board. Bloomberg reports that Disney has already begun interviewing candidates, though no timeframe has been set for the leadership transition.

The National Hockey League (NHL), meanwhile, says it won't change the name or logo of its newest franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, despite a setback at the US Patent and Trademark Office. The league’s trademark request was rejected last week because it was deemed too similar to that of the College of Saint Rose Golden Knights, an NCAA school in Albany, New York. The NHL, which has until 7th June 2017 to formally respond, said it fully intends “to proceed as originally planned”, adding: “We consider this a routine matter and it is not our intention to reconsider the name or logo of this franchise.”

In other trademark news, the producers of the popular German digestif Jägermeister have filed a formal opposition to the Milwaukee Bucks’ new logo, alleging that the National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise adopted their redesigned deer head emblem “in bad faith with an intent to cause confusion and deception, to create a false suggestion of connection or association with [Jägermeister], and to trade on the fame, popularity and goodwill associated with” the liquor brand. The filing is only an objection, however, which means the Bucks will not have to stop using their new logo unless a federal lawsuit seeking an injunction is lodged.

Also this week: the Mexican soccer association, the FMF, and the country’s top division, Liga MX, have announced plans to launch an 18-team, under-23 women’s league next year, though foreign players will not be permitted to participate; the Denver Broncos of the National Football League (NFL) have had "very preliminary” talks over building a US$351 million ‘entertainment district with retail, commercial and residential developments’ in the northern part of Denver's Sun Valley neighbourhood, according to paperwork issued by the Denver Housing Authority on Monday; and Spanish La Liga giants FC Barcelona have unveiled a new partnership with Scotiabank covering Latin America and the Caribbean, in what is the first sponsorship deal struck by the club’s newly established regional hub in midtown Manhattan.

Seven deals a week