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This is Moneyball

Author: This is Moneyball

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Every week, Lee Boyce and Georgie Frost take a deeper look at sport and money. We talk through the stories from the week, from bumper sports' star salaries to grassroots gems, along with in-depth interviews and analysis to delve into what makes the world of sport and money tick.
28 Episodes
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Starting a sports team from scratch and taking them to glory: it sounds like something out of a computer game rather than real life. This week, assistant editor Lee Boyce and broadcaster Georgie Frost are joined by a man who recently helped start a new basketball team in Britain – the London City Royals. Just how do you go about starting a whole new team – or franchise – and get them off the ground? Jon Sawyer, who has an impressive CV holding senior positions at Disney, Hilton and Pret reveals all. Playing basketball in Britain is immensely popular, so can the basketball league here grow in stature? And will we ever seen the next big player in the NBA come from these shores? How does funding and TV rights work, what does it take to run a sports team day-to-day and can professional basketball help kids avoid the dangers of gang life?
Match-fixing in sport. It is a subject that makes fans boil with anger and ask: just how and why would any professional do it? Aren't they already paid enough for a job many of us would love to do? In the This is Moneyball season 3 opener, assistant editor Lee Boyce and broadcaster Georgie Frost tackle this tricky subject and are joined by someone who was swept up in the madness. Centre-back Moses Swaibu – a former Crystal Palace youth player – became one of the first names on the team sheet for Lincoln City in the late-2000s. However, he became embroiled in match-fixing as he slipped down to semi-professional level. For the first time, Moses candidly tells his story, how it unfolded, his regret and why a stint in jail helped him realise that he needed to make sure young players aren't tempted to make the same mistakes.
Forget Blackbeard and the stealing of Spanish treasure fleets, when you think of piracy these days it might well be football that's flying the Jolly Roger. It's big business too. Think of football channel beoutQ, which pirates content from Qatar-based giant beIN Sports and beams it to homes across Saudi Arabia.   This week on This is Moneyball, Georgie Frost is joined by LawinSport's Sean Cottrell and the Associated Press' Global Sports Correspondent Rob Harris.  They discuss the impact of piracy on the future of football, how the rules of the game off the pitch are becoming more important and impacting the jobs of journalists, whether fans can still be called fans and not just consumers, and what can be done to encourage investment in women's sport.
There are very few sportspeople who are lucky enough to score the winner in the final of any tournament, let alone the pinnacle of a sport. But Nolli Waterman did just that in 2014 for England against Canada at the Women's Rugby World Cup in France. This week, the Wasps full-back joins broadcaster Georgie Frost and assistant editor Lee Boyce to talk about her life as a rugby player, the financial strain and where the game is heading. She reveals how she has to pay to play, why she only spent three years as a professional with England and how she got involved in the first place. We also look at the predicted economic impact the upcoming 2019 World Cup could have for Japan and ask the all-important question: could it run out of beer?
Social media use among sports stars has seen some of them become more than just a player – they are icons with a global following of millions who post their life off the pitch, as well as on it.  They can publish messages, photographs and videos with a few taps and a click which will be seen across the world. Is Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and the like a good use of time for footballers and other sporting icons – or do they have the potential to damage the reputation of both player and club? That's what broadcaster Georgie Frost and assistant editor Lee Boyce discuss this week, alongside expert Ehsen Shah. He is managing director of B-Engaged Ltd and runs the social media accounts of more than 20 footballers, including Arsenal star Héctor Bellerín - who has 3million Instagram followers and 1.7million Twitter followers.   He discusses what makes good social media use, developing four pillars needed to make a difference and why it isn't about the money. We also talk about the abuse players may receive, how much a post can be worth to a brand and the future of technology use with sportspeople.
The football season is back with bang but what happened off the pitch in the summer when it comes to money created major talking points. Assistant editor Lee Boyce and broadcaster Georgie Frost pick six of the financial hot topics when it comes to football from the last few months to give their thoughts and opinions. This includes £1.4billion being spent in the summer transfer window, with half of Premier League clubs breaking their individual player transfer record – so who got the best deal? We've got confirmation of Wayne Rooney heading back to England, but why have the financials caused controversy? Bolton Wanderers and Bury are on the brink. What has happened, will they be saved and is Financial Fair Play working? Elsewhere, the Forbes rich list of sports clubs makes for interesting reading, the Chinese cash influence grows and women's football received a huge surge of interest meaning more money.
This week sees the start of the European Men's Hockey Championships and one man that will be there is GB vice-captain David Ames. But it hasn't all been smooth sailing, with David swapping Ireland for Team GB and having to wait three years to be able to do so. He speaks to broadcaster Georgie Frost and assistant editor Lee Boyce and reveals all on his life as a pro-hockey player. He candidly says he will stop playing after the Tokyo 2020 games, why funding worries are always on the back of players' minds and why – aged 30 – he doesn't have a pension. GB Hockey itself was bankrupt at one point, but is on the up, fuelled by the women's gold medal at Rio 2016 and the game having its highest ever participation numbers.  So what is next for the sport?
This time next year, Team GB will be competing at Tokyo 2020 and hoping to surpass its record tally from Rio 2016. But how tough is it to get funding in the first place and how much hard work goes into that dash to the podium? That's the topic this week as broadcaster Georgie Frost and assistant editor Lee Boyce are joined in the studio by boxing medal hopeful Jordan Reynolds and a man who has been there, done that: Amir Khan. Amir gives Jordan top career advice in a sport where getting sponsorship could be the difference between making it, and not. Jordan reveals how he was once homeless and also had a job as a baggage handler at Luton Airport before boxing changed his life. He tells us how he was funded, his love for dancing helps him in the ring, why battling amateurs from around the world has helped his development, the importance of the boxing centre he has created in Luton… and his belief it should be taught at school. He also gives Georgie and Lee a boxing lesson and why he would never flash the cash like a certain Floyd Mayweather.
Football transfer deadline day. It conjures images of countdown clocks, TV presenters talking a mile-a-minute, sports reporters outside training grounds and microphones through Harry Redknapp's car window...  But what goes on behind the scenes? How does a transfer actually happen – from start to finish? How many of the rumours actually have any truth in them?  This week, broadcaster Georgie Frost and assistant editor Lee Boyce are joined by sports lawyer and author of Done Deal, Daniel Geey. We ask some of the key questions: Who holds the balance of power? Are agents really just greedy money grabbers? How much work goes on behind the scenes that we don’t see? How do you value players? And why can't Zinedine Zidane just get rid of Gareth Bale?  Aaron Wan-Bissaka for example has joined Manchester United for £50million. Has that huge sum now just become a normal fee for good players, not exceptional ones – and where does it end? We also talk about how social media is shaping the modern day footballer – and what Brexit could actually mean for the Premier League in England.
We are entering the final week of the Tour de France, billed by one expert as the most exciting since 1989 – but how do the finances stack up and why is the team structure so unique? That's the question broadcaster Georgie Frost and assistant editor Lee Boyce ask, with help from deputy editor – and superfan – Adrian Lowery, and sports journalist and co-host of The Cycling Podcast, Richard Moore. The latter joins us from Nimes, France, as he is on the road covering the event – and we delve into the economics of hosting a stage, sponsoring a team and what it takes to win. We also cover doping, Team Ineos, the lack of Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome, television rights and whether we will ever see a women's version of the event. Adrian also explains why the romance and heroics of some of the riders throughout the 116-year old race keep him coming back for more. And when it comes to two wheels, Team GB had a stellar 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics. How are we shaping up for Tokyo 2020, and has Team GB cycling peaked?
In recent weeks, we've seen Rafa Benitez become boss of Dalian Yifang and Marko Arnautović join Shanghai SIPG in the China Super League. What is behind the moves – and is it just about the money? That's the question broadcaster Georgie Frost and This is Money assistant editor Lee Boyce tackle this week as they look east. We lift the lid on the Chinese Super League, how it works, where the money is coming from and ask what impact it is having on the game here, and in Europe. We have also seen an increase in Chinese investment in European clubs – while Espanyol saw a major uplift in fans after signing Chinese winger Wu Lei. But despite the major investment, the Chinese national team is not exactly high in the world rankings – could that all be about to change?
What's going on at Silverstone and why was its place on the Formula One calendar in doubt? That's the question assistant editor Lee Boyce and broadcaster Georgie Frost tackle this week. It looks like the future of the F1 race in Northamptonshire has been secured – but what's behind the economics of the iconic track and its owners? We are joined this week by former British F1 driver Mark Blundell – 1992 Le Mans winner and three-time F1 podium finisher. He gives us his views on Silverstone, how technology has changed the face of motor racing substantially since the 1990s and why – aged 53 – he decided to get back behind the wheel, competitively. We look into the Silverstone contract, new races for 2020, the threat of a London Grand Prix, why it is important to the economy – and the impact paid-for TV is having on sport.
There are plenty of sports fans who wish a wealthy buyer would come in and help change its fortunes – but equally, there are many who have seen their club turned upside down by an owner. What happens when a club is bought and sold? Broadcaster Georgie Frost and assistant editor Lee Boyce take a look, with help from industry insider and sports law consultant Darren Bailey. With the 'Manchester United of rugby' – Leicester Tigers – now available for £60million, what's behind the valuation, how is a buyer found and vetted, and how does the Gallagher Premiership become the best in the world? That's what we ask Tigers chief executive Simon Cohen, after the club finished 11th last season and looks for new investment in a league currently dominated by Saracens. Is it harder to value rugby clubs, should fans be worried and how does the game attract a bigger, global, audience? And would Leicester represent a good investment?
It's that time of year again – Wimbledon, arguably the best tennis tournament in the world, starts next week. Assistant editor Lee Boyce and broadcaster Georgie Frost dust off their picnic blankets, pack the strawberries and cream and talk tennis with British pro – and plucky underdog – Marcus Willis, who has been ranked as high as 209th in the world. We look at the state of the game in Britain and why more youngsters are heading to the US, including 19 year-old Paul Jubb, a Wimbledon wildcard entry who may have to reject his £45,000 cheque. We discuss life after Andy and the true financial cost of training a child up to become a top tennis player – and the physical and mental cost to boot. Marcus also reveals all about his truly remarkable run in Wimbledon in 2016 in which he played Roger Federer on centre court – and managed to lob the best tennis player in history. He also reveals how much money that summer made him and how bonkers life became after he was thrust in the spotlight.
It's been an interesting last couple of decades for Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club to say the least. They fell to the basement division, had plenty of stadium drama and now find themselves an established Premier League team. In this week's This is Moneyball podcast, assistant editor Lee Boyce and broadcaster Georgie Frost are joined by the Seagulls chief executive Paul Barber, who previously worked with the FA and Tottenham Hotspur. He's been at the club since 2012 and gives the rundown of his day-to-day job and how the role has evolved. There is insight as to why the club has been 'scouting' managers for years, before recently appointing Graham Potter, who has a master's degree in leadership and emotional intelligence. He also gives his views on money in the game and why it is a good thing, the 'fit and proper' persons test for chairmen – and how his ingenious plan to give away replica shirts to seven year-old fans is reaping dividends as the Seaside-club goes global.
Pack those Thermos flasks, get on your bike and gobble down a veggie burger while watching the big match - this week, we take a look at the green revolution and how that filters down to sport. Broadcaster Georgie Frost and This is Money assistant editor Lee Boyce talk about what clubs are doing to reduce their environmental impact and whether it makes business sense to do so. Joining us is Julian Kirby from Friends of the Earth to reveal what fans and clubs can do to become greener, while Surrey Cricket chief executive Richard Gould explains the changes it's making. We go into detail about League Two club Forest Green Rovers who have fully embraced the green movement via chairman - and chief executive of Ecotricity - Dale Vince. Can clubs save much by trimming energy bills, would a carbon footprint league table be a good plan for sports clubs and could collapsible, reusable pint cups with a team emblem emblazoned on take-off?
This summer sees the cricket World Cup in England and Wales, alongside women's football in France and rugby in Japan. Broadcaster Georgie Frost and assistant editor Lee Boyce ask: does the hype of major events really impact grassroots participation? We zero in on one of these…and ask whether we can, at last say that with all the media hype, the increased sponsorship and prize money, that the women's game has finally arrived?  We are joined by Beth Towle, club chair of South London Laces to tackle that very question. Elsewhere, how much for the winners and losers in Baku and Madrid and the Premier League sits comfortably atop the European finance table but for how long… And once and for all: what are parachute payments and are they good for the game? We also take a peek at Deloitte's latest annual football review with Tim Bridge and speak to Surrey cricket chief executive Richard Gould about the current world cup.
The next best thing to being at a sporting fixture has to be going to a pub with a group of mates – but the number of boozers is dwindling. This week, broadcaster Georgie Frost and assistant editor Lee Boyce take a deeper dive into the world of 'pub' sports, namely darts and snooker.  As pubs continue to close or be 'gastro-ed' will we see the death of darts and pool being played for fun? We talk to Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association for her opinion.  The Snooker World Championship is currently on and prize money is growing – but could that be at threat with betting advertising in the crosshairs of government?  Although Britain is not as Snooker Loopy as it once was - with numbers playing dwindling - in China, some 60million are estimated to regularly play.  Meanwhile, we talk to the 68th best darts player in the world – Matthew 'Prime Time' Edgar about how he got into the sport, its future, and why he wouldn't like it to become an Olympic event.  Has Barry Hearn been good for darts (and snooker)? And just how rapidly have earnings grown on the oche?  We also take a look at the news that the Premier League wage bill has hit nearly £3billion and Lee reveals all on his La Liga, Athletic Bilbao experience.  This is the last episode of season one of This is Moneyball – we'll be back in June.
Next month, the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) circus comes to Britain, with live shows in Belfast, Newcastle, Liverpool, London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Cardiff. For many, they will remember the days of Hulk Hogan, Bret the Hitman Hart and the British Bulldog. So, is wrestling just as popular in 2019 as it was in the 1980s and 90s? This week, Georgie Frost focuses on the billion dollar sport of wrestling with chief executive of the Wrestling Travel company Lee McAteer. He recently visited New Jersey, in the US, for Wrestlemania 35 - and returns to give us expert insight, talk about the money-side of the sport, and why more people are taking an interest in sports tourism. Lee is also Associate Director of Tranmere Rovers and the pair also look at lower league funding in football. The Prenton Park outfit are currently battling it out to gain promotion from League Two - after just one season back on the Football League, having spent a few years in the National League. Lee Boyce is away.
Golf has something of a long-standing image problem in Britain. Women are still banned from joining some private clubs, young people now prefer to take up cycling rather pick up a set of golf clubs and it has found it hard to shake off its reputation as the sport of snobs.   That could be about to change. Some say if it doesn’t the industry is doomed. This week’s monumental comeback by Tiger Woods might be the catalyst this ailing pastime needs. After 11 years out of the golfing – at least – spotlight, the US star has lifted the 83rd Masters trophy. In the latest This is MoneyBall, the podcast that looks behind the action and into the business and the books, Georgie Frost is joined by Alistair Dunsmuir, editor of The Golf Business, for a chat about where golf goes next.  Do incredible wins such as this really filter down to the grass roots? Possibly not but the sport is trying to evolve.   The big opportunity is women – only 13% of UK golfers are women. ‘If you’re struggling financially, the obvious thing to do is to present yourself as a female friendly club’, says Alistair. It turns out people no longer like playing 18 holes and there are plans already being tried out for ‘Golf Sixes’, with music, fireworks and half a dozen holes. There are 200 clubs around the country that now offer footgolf – a new hybrid sport in which players kick a football around the course into giant holes. And big money is moving in, with six clubs being bought by six big entertainment companies in the last six months compared with one sale every year or two in the past. Something’s happening in golf. Watch this space – or hole – as one in the business might say. Let’s hope it’s not a black one. Lee Boyce is away. Enjoy.
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