Sportico Transactions: Moves and Mergers Roundup for March 15

Welcome to Sportico’s transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and products across the sports business industry.


Fenway Sports Group Names Michael Edwards CEO of Football

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Fenway Sports Group (FSG) named Michael Edwards as CEO of football. He will lead efforts to identify and recruit new leadership for Liverpool FC’s football operation and support the growth of FSG in global football through additional investment and acquisition. Edwards previously worked as sporting director at the Merseyside club, during a period that saw the team win seven major titles, including a UEFA Champions League trophy and ending a 30-year wait to become English top-flight champions. Edwards will no longer work as a consultant to sports management business Ludonautics, where he has advised since it was established in 2023.

BakerHostetler Law Firm Adds Nicholas Simon to Its Business Practice Group

Nicholas Simon is joining BakerHostetler’s business practice group as a partner and member of the mergers and acquisitions and sports industry teams. He was formerly a partner with Keating Muething & Klekamp. A considerable portion of his practice is dedicated to advising professional sports leagues, teams, owners, college conferences and sports businesses. His arrival  is the latest addition to the firm’s national business practice group, which most recently welcomed M&A partners Todd Kegler, Sol Sassoon and Melissa Leonard.

AMB Sports and Entertainment Promotes Four Senior Officers

Nick Brown, Demetrious Efstathiou, Chris Millman and Ryan Mucatel have been elevated to new roles at Arthur M. Blank Sports and Entertainment (AMBSE). Brown was promoted to vice president, deputy general counsel; Efstathiou to senior vice president, strategy at Atlanta United; Millman to senior vice president, community engagement and sports philanthropy; and Mucatel to senior vice-president, chief marketing officer. In one other senior officer move, Karl Pierburg, who is currently AMBSE senior vice president and chief technology officer, will take on a greater role with the Atlanta Falcons adding Football Strategy and Innovation to his current title while maintaining oversight of AMBSE’s enterprise data team.

Rush Soccer Taps Justin Miller as Chief Executive Officer

Rush Soccer, a youth soccer organization with more than 55,000 players, appointed Justin Miller as the new CEO. Miller has 20 years of experience in the soccer industry and has held various management positions within Rush Soccer. As CEO, Miller will be responsible for overseeing the strategic direction of organization and ensuring that it continues to provide quality youth soccer programs. Founded by Tim Schulz in 1997, Rush Soccer has 125 clubs in 50 countries.


Slalom Named Team-Level Business Transformation Partner for Angel City FC

Angel City Football Club (ACFC) has entered into a multiyear team level partnership with Slalom, a professional services company. Slalom is now ACFC’s official business transformation partner. Slalom will support ACFC in identifying and prioritizing growth opportunities for the club and its global brand. Slalom has collaborated with companies such as the Chicago Cubs, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Southwest Airlines, among others. As with all Angel City partnerships, 10% of the partnership will directly benefit local community organizations.

Cognizant Joins With Major League Cricket as Title Partner

Major League Cricket (MLC) named Cognizant (CTSH), a professional services company, as its first title sponsor. Cognizant Major League Cricket will return for its second season this summer, kicking off on July 4. MLC expands Cognizant’s sports sponsorship portfolio, which spans across the PGA, LPGA, Aston Martin Formula 1 (AMF1) team, SailGP and the English Football Association. All six teams who competed in MLC’s historic inaugural season return in 2024. MI New York claimed the inaugural championship, defeating the Seattle Orcas in the championship final on July 30 at Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium in Texas.

MSX by Michael Strahan Named Off-Field Apparel Partner of UFL

The United Football League (UFL) has partnered with MSX by Michael Strahan, the brand’s licensed apparel collection, naming it the Off-Field Apparel Partner of the UFL. This partnership is the company’s first official league-level category designation. MSX by Michael Strahan and the UFL will debut a range of fan-ready styles for men and women. In addition, the UFL and Michael Strahan will leverage SMAC Entertainment, a talent management, branding and production company founded by Schwartz-Morini and Strahan, to create cross-promotional digital and in-venue experiential content to engage fans. The inaugural season of the UFL kicks off on March 30.

AEG Presents, Cárdenas Marketing Network Forge Partnership

AEG Presents announced it has entered into a partnership with Cárdenas Marketing Network (CMN), the Chicago-based international Latin music event company. The deal combines the world’s No. 2 and No. 3 live event companies. CMN, founded by music entrepreneur Henry Cárdenas in 2001, has a presence in Latin music and sports, promoting global tours from such notable artists as Marc Anthony, Bad Bunny, J. Balvin, Daddy Yankee and Chayanne. In sports, CMN has been a leader in promoting soccer matches in the United States, including the match between Argentina and Brazil at MetLife stadium and the first soccer game at Lambeau Field between Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Utah Royals FC, Real Salt Lake Partner With KAGR

Utah Royals FC, Real Salt Lake and KAGR (Kraft Analytics Group), a sports technology and analytics company, announced a multiyear partnership to accelerate the Utah soccer properties’ joint approach to growing soccer fandom in Utah. KAGR will help enrich data strategies for both RSL and URFC, while providing lenses into consumer behavior on both RSL / Royals FC matchdays. The KAGR data platform will empower the club’s sales & marketing and gameday experience teams through data warehousing, data management, predictive analytics, business intelligence visualizations and strategic marketing capabilities. Working closely with the RSL / URFC teams, KAGR will build a new foundational data layer, breaking down silos across data sources from ticketing, email and CRM to SMS, ecommerce, and surveys. KAGR will integrate survey and web form responses collected from Qualtrics, a global company founded by owner Ryan Smith.

Bay FC, NBC Sports Outlets Begin Regional Television Partnership

Bay FC, the Bay Area’s new women’s professional soccer franchise in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), announced that 10 matches this season will be presented live on NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California, starting with the club’s first ever NWSL match on Sunday against Angel City FC on NBC Sports Bay Area. The 10-game regional television schedule for Bay FC’s 2024 season features six home matches and four away matches. Four matches will be presented on NBC Sports Bay Area, with four matches scheduled for NBC Sports Bay Area Plus. One match is scheduled for NBC Sports California and one for NBC Sports California Plus.

FloSports Partners With Warner Bros. Discovery on Live Cycling for Canada

Today Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) announced a sublicense partnership with FloSports that will provide cycling fans in Canada with streaming access to live cycling races across all disciplines. Road races will be featured for exclusive streaming on FloSports’ cycling vertical, FloBikes.These include the Giro d’Italia and men’s and women’s UCI World Tour races, including Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and Il Lombardia. These events are in addition to FloBikes’ existing calendar of events that includes the Tour de France, La Vuelta Espana, Paris Roubaix, the Flanders Classics series of events and the UCI World Championships. BMX and Cyclocross events will be available as well as every race on the UCI Mountain Bike World Series and the UCI Track Champions League.

Caffeine Expands Partnerships With Spring Football Leagues

Caffeine, a live broadcasting platform, announced an expanded content rights agreement with the Women’s National Football Conference (WNFC), expanding digital streaming distribution for the league on a national scale. The deal establishes Caffeine as the home for all live and on-demand regular season games, team-specific original content, match highlights, and the original docuseries, This is Spartaaa, which follows the undefeated WNFC Champions, Texas Elite Spartans. Caffeine will also extend its partnership with American 7s Football League (A7FL), and enter a new deal with the Indoor Football League (IFL), delivering access to hundreds of hours of live football competition.


Two Circles Acquires Let It Fly Media

Two Circles, a data-driven sports marketing company, has acquired Let It Fly Media, an award-winning creative agency. As part of this acquisition, Let It Fly Media will now be officially known as Two Circles. This integration furthers Two Circles’ fusion of content and data, and Two Circles is now expanding its footprint into artificial intelligence content. Founded in 2017 by Andrew Carter and Ben Walnick, Let It Fly Media has offices in Kansas City and Miami and has produced content and social media campaigns across sports, entertainment and business, with clients including the College Football Playoff, the Rose Bowl, Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix and the NWSL’s KC Current. Charterhouse Capital Partners recently secured a majority stake in Two Circles, which manages over 400 sports property partnerships and analyzes billions of fan data interactions. Two Circles maintains long-term partnerships with the NFL, the International Olympic Committee, LA28, the International Cricket Council, EA Sports, the Premier League, Wimbledon, UEFA and FIFA.

Lindsey Vonn, Through Her Foundation, to Invest in Utah Royals FC

Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn to invest in the Utah Royals FC. Through the Lindsey Vonn Foundation (LVF), Vonn will be donating 25 tickets to every Utah Royals FC home match. Through 2023, the LVF has awarded more than $1,000,000 in scholarships to impact girls from underserved communities. Led by U.S. World Cup performer and U.S. Olympian Amy Rodriguez, the Utah Royals FC returns to the NWSL for the first time since the 2020 Challenge Cup, hosting the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday.

Lieberman Joins Dallas Pro Volleyball Ownership Team

Pro Volleyball Federation has announced that its franchise in Dallas has added Nancy Lieberman to its roster of team owners. The Hall of Fame basketball player, a longtime champion of women’s sports in the United States, will also serve as a team ambassador. As part of her role, Lieberman will assist the Dallas Pro Volleyball Team with business development and brand expansion in North Texas. She will also aid and collaborate with various community efforts in the DFW Metroplex. Lieberman was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996, individually, and again in 2023, as part of Team USA; she played basketball professionally for over 20 years. Following her playing career, Lieberman has served as a coach in the NBA, WNBA, G-League and BIG3. In July 2015, she became the second woman in history to join the coaching staff of an NBA team with the Sacramento Kings.


Kitman Labs Makes Deal With Sparta Prague on Intelligence Platform

Kitman Labs has struck a deal with Czech First League football club, Sparta Prague. The club will leverage several solutions in iP: Intelligence Platform, including performance medicine, performance optimization and coaching and development. The platform combines medical, performance, coaching and talent development data into a single, integrated system that yields actionable intelligence to support specific operating and performance outcomes. IP will serve as the singular advanced operating system for the club,  eliminating data and information silos, enabling cross-departmental communication and providing transparency and alignment across all stakeholders. Kitman Labs’ technology has been used by teams in the NFL, NBA, Premier League, MLS and NCAA.

Lionel Messi Works With Climate Change Organization on Collectible Art

Lionel Messi is teaming with Join the Planet and Karün on an initiative to fight climate change. The collaboration is set to kick off with a March 15 pre-sale event featuring collectible sculptures made entirely from recycled materials. The project promotes sustainability through art, but it also channels the proceeds toward conservation of the Paraná River, situated near Messi’s hometown of Rosario, Argentina.

First Live Big Ten Schools  Esports Spring Championship Set for Ohio State

Collegiate Sports Management Group (CSMG) announced that the Big Esports Conference (BEC) will be qualifying schools at the upcoming live championship event at The Ohio State University and Game Arena on April 12-13, with the winners headed to the Collegiate Esports Commissioner’s Cup in May. Game Arena will join the event as a presenting sponsor. The BEC is the esports organizing body for Big Ten Conference member schools that operate or facilitate esports programs. This marks the first time these schools will gather at a live event to crown a champion across multiple game titles.

San Diego Selected as Host for 2024 Major League Rugby Championship

Major League Rugby (MLR) has named San Diego as the host site for the 2024 MLR Championship. The Quest for the Shield will culminate at Snapdragon Stadium on Aug. 4, featuring the champions from the East and West conferences. After an 18-week regular season, each conference will seed its top four teams in a single-elimination tournament beginning on July 20 with the winners squaring off for the MLR Shield. Last season, the New England Free Jacks defeated the San Diego Legion 25-24 in the MLR Championship in Chicago.

Novus Announces Clothing Line in Partnership With Clemson’s Joe Girard III

Novus, a brand specializing in custom apparel for athletes, teams and professionals, announced a rollout of new Clemson gear featuring Tigers guard Joe Girard III. The limited-edition collection will be available through March 28. Born and raised in Glens Falls, N.Y., Girard has partnered with Novus, based in Albany, N.Y., on products at both Syracuse and Clemson, where he transferred to play this season.

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