Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry
XFL Brings on VP of Health and Safety
Kerry Gordon is the new vice president, health and safety at the XFL. Gordon will oversee all health and safety policies, procedures and protocols for the League, focusing on the care and well-being of all XFL athletes and directing each teams athletic training departments. As a liaison between the league and teams, she will establish and maintain strategic relationships between physicians, hospital administration, trainers and athletes in all eight team markets to ensure XFL policies and procedures are being upheld. She will report to Marc Ross, executive vice president, football operations.
Monroe Capital Hires Head of Sports Finance Vertical
Gordon Saint-Denis has joined Monroe Capital as managing director, head of sports finance. He will be responsible for originating new investments across the capital structure and for acquisition financing and recapitalizations for all major sports teams and venues in North America and Europe as well as other businesses in sports, such as soccer, rugby, cycling, racing, golf, esports and sports tech. His responsibilities will also include merchandising, NIL, ticketing and equipment companies.
PHF Hires Scout and Player Relations Liaison
The Premier Hockey Federation appointed Kacey Bellamy to the role of scout and player relations liaison. Bellamy helped the U.S. Women’s National Team win gold at the 2018 Olympic Games and earn eight gold medals in nine appearances at the IIHF Women’s World Championship. Bellamy, who retired as a player in 2021, will be responsible for harnessing in-depth knowledge of both the PHF and NCAA player pool and tasked with matters related to depth charts, communication plans with prospects, and annual projections. She will assist Lisa Haley, PHF senior vice president of hockey operations, in active communication and relationship building with NCAA and U SPORTS coaches.
Candy Digital Adds to Board of Directors
Sports and entertainment digital collectible company Candy Digital has added founder and managing partner of SuperLayer Kevin Chou to its Board of Directors. Chou’s appointment comes as Candy expands into multiple new categories, including motorsports, basketball, football and sports entertainment. Its inaugural partnership with Major League Baseball was announced in June 2021. Chou has played an influential role in accelerating the adoption of blockchain technology, with a focus on delivering easy-to-use crypto products and creating a venture studio in his current role, while developing a Creator Economy crypto protocol as CEO of Rally.
Parleh Media Group Welcomes Head of Soccer Content
Canadian soccer broadcaster James Sharman has joined Parleh Media Group as an investor and new head of soccer content. In his new role, Sharman will oversee Parleh’s soccer content that includes daily picks videos and feature shows. He’ll also host Parleh’s new Soccer Sports Betting Show, giving fans his perspective on all aspects of the global game. The show will be syndicated internationally across Parleh’s partner platforms. Sharman, who also becomes an investor in Parleh Media Group, became a noted voice in Canadian soccer media over the past 25 years during his time at Sportsnet, OneSoccer, Fox Sports and The Score.
Little Dot Sport Appoints Fiona Wood as Strategy Director
Digital content agency and media network Little Dot Studios has appointed Fiona Wood as strategy director of its sport specialist label, Little Dot Sport. In this newly created role, Wood will drive the development of multiplatform digital strategies for clients, oversee an internal team responsible for building data, content and insights workstreams to complement these business objectives, and evolve Little Dot Sport’s product offering. Reporting to Robbie Spargo, director of Little Dot Sport, Wood brings with her over 15 years’ worth of digital strategy and content experience within the sports industry. Prior to joining Little Dot Sport, she held the position of digital director at Formula E.
Learfield Promotes From Within for Chief of Strategy
Learfield has promoted Ben Mathan to chief strategy officer, responsible for the company’s overall strategy plus oversight of Fanbase, sales acceleration, insights and data analytics. He was SVP strategy & business operations. Mathan led the integration of Learfield and IMG College, and the activities surrounding the merger and works across all business lines. He has 10-plus years in investment banking and private equity fields and was a member of the investment team that acquired Learfield.
Serie A Utilizing AI Technology to Create Real-Time Highlights
Lega Serie A, the top football league in Italy, has entered a three-year partnership with WSC Sports, which offers artificial intelligence-driven sports video technology that will automatically create highlights of all Serie A, Supercoppa Frecciarossa and Coppa Italia Frecciarossa matches in real-time. WSC Sports’ machine-learning technology analyzes actions as they happen, indexing, cropping and applying graphics to videos. Lega Serie A will be using WSC Sports’ full suite of automation tools to capture every moment within a game and then automatically create and distribute video highlights, in real-time and at scale. Automated Serie A match highlights will be published across the league’s social media channels and other digital properties. By utilizing AI technology, more content will be available to fans in Italy and around the world.
Rugby Football League and Super League Announce Strategic Partnership With IMG
The Rugby Football League and Super League Europe have formed a 12-year strategic partnership with IMG, a sports, events, media and fashion agency owned by Endeavor, to reimagine Rugby League and its competitions in the U.K. The agreement follows the recent decision for the RFL and Super League to realign and form a new joint venture company. IMG personnel from across its media business and the Endeavor network will work with the newly combined entity on strategically repositioning the sport to maximize its commercial potential and build a deeper and broader audience. The agency will initially focus on competition restructuring, content production and innovation, domestic and international distribution of media rights, digital transformation powered by IMG’s digital sports arm Seven League, brand strategy delivered by Endeavor’s cultural marketing agency 160over90, and streaming through Endeavor’s OTT platform Endeavor Streaming.
Legalzoom and LA Sparks to Support Small Businesses
The Los Angeles Sparks and LegalZoom.com, the online business formation and legal, compliance and tax solutions platform, signed a multiyear partnership that will help empower, celebrate and uplift women-led small businesses. The collaboration is part of LegalZoom’s Fast Break For Small Business, a grant program focused on addressing disparities faced by women and LGBTQ+ business owners by providing $6 million in grants and LegalZoom services to thousands of small businesses across the country. LegalZoom has also partnered with Sparks All-Star forward Nneka Ogwumike to help celebrate women’s achievements on and off the court. The two organizations will also launch Small Business Champions in June, which will highlight the Southern California small business community, creating a platform for entrepreneurs and celebrating women-led businesses. LegalZoom will provide free products, legal services and education to entrepreneurs throughout the season.
Greenpark Sports and LaLiga to Release Match Day NFT Jerseys
GreenPark Sports, a community platform for sports and esports fans, and LaLiga, the top Spanish football league, have expanded their multiyear licensing partnership to include in-game NFTs featuring a special NFT collection of Match Day Jerseys. In the coming weeks, GreenPark will launch an inaugural collection of Match Day jerseys, allowing fans to collect their favorite team and player jerseys from specific games to commemorate some of the greatest matchups and performances. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase football lockers, inside which they will find a collection of player kits from that match day. As a part of this extension, GreenPark plans to expand LaLiga World alongside other partnerships outside of the United States and Canada, as the company reaches some of the largest fan bases in the world.
BetMGM Named Exclusive Betting Partner of Houston Astros
BetMGM has established a footprint in Texas as it is now the exclusive sports betting partner of the Houston Astros. Under the agreement, BetMGM signage will be prominently featured at Minute Maid Park. This includes a permanent outfield wall sign and rotational promotional messaging behind home plate. Astros fans will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of VIP experiences exclusive to BetMGM customers. These include throwing out the first pitch, on-field access to batting practice, and VIP getaways for away games, among others. BetMGM and the Astros also will team up to offer special betting promotions for BetMGM customers in Louisiana.
Golfforever Signs Scottie Scheffler
At-home golf fitness company Golfforever has brought on the No. 1 ranked golfer, Scottie Scheffler, as a brand ambassador. The most recent Masters champion leads the 2022 FEDEX Cup Standings and has won four times on the PGA Tour this year. Scheffler uses the Golfforever system, which pairs a multi-use golf fitness and warmup tool with video-streaming routines for flexibility, speed, power and injury recovery in the Golfforever app. Scheffler will represent the brand by appearing in Golfforever video content and advertisements.
UFC Champ to Offer Training in a Metaverse Gym
Two-time UFC Champion Amanda Nunes is partnering with the Sports Metaverse by SportsIcon to inaugurate its land sales and offer training in her personalized metaverse gym. The Sports Metaverse is a digital world devoted entirely to sports where athletes, brands and clubs are together in one place. Nunes joins Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, who is offering the secrets of his training success. Land sales in the Sports Metaverse enable special interaction with these star athletes. This is in line with a growing trend: According to Grayscale, land in the metaverse could generate $1 trillion in annual revenue.
Meta Bringing NFTs to Instagram and Facebook
Meta has begun testing digital collectibles on Instagram, which will allow a small group of U.S. creators and collectors to share NFTs on Instagram that they have created or bought. There will be no fees associated with posting or sharing a digital collectible on Instagram. In the future, Meta will also roll out digital collectibles on Facebook and allow people to display and share their digital collectibles as AR stickers in Instagram Stories, bringing the benefits of this technology to even more creators and collectors.