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Soccer Business


December 3, 2012
UMBRO sale completed, USL adds sponsor, Sacramento expansion team

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Nike has completed its sale of iconic soccer brand UMBRO to Iconix Brand Group, Inc for $225 million in cash, considerably less than the $582 million the company paid in 2008.

Iconix is a holding company that licenses brands to manufacturers and retailers. Its other holdings include Starter, which it purchased from Nike in 2007, Danskin, Fieldcrest, Sharper Image and the licensing rights for the Peanuts comic strip.

The company has not revealed how it plans to handle the Umbro brand, although it is likely the purchase means the end of the line as a major soccer brand for the company that was founded in Manchester, England in 1924.

After purchasing the company, Nike stripped it of its marquee properties, including Manchester City and the England National Team, moving those over to the Nike brand.

USL PRO expands to Sacramento
A Sacramento expansion team will join USL PRO for 2014, giving the league its second West Coast team, joining the LA Blues. Warren Smith, SVP of Business Development for Clean World Partners and co-founder of the Sacramento Rivercats (MILB), will lead the new franchise.

The league also will have expansion teams in Phoenix, Arizona and Tampa, Florida, all beginning in the 2013 season.

The Sacramento franchise will plan a series of exhibition matches during 2013, involving domestic and international professional soccer teams. In addition, supporter events, soccer clinics and player appearances will be scheduled leading up to the 2014 season. In 2013, the franchise will begin the process of naming the team with input and engagement from soccer fans.
The team has not finalized a stadium lease yet, but has Exclusive Right to Negotiate (ERN) with Sacramento City College related to holding professional soccer matches at Hughes Stadium.

Military partner
United Soccer Leagues has designated the Army National Guard as the “Official Military Branch of USL” and the primary sponsor of the 2012 Super Y-League North American Finals, set for December 7-11 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida and the 2012 Major Beach Soccer National Championship, to be held December 15-16 in Clearwater, Florida.

Through the relationship, the Army National Guard (ARNG) will work with USL to develop and promote grassroots soccer initiatives throughout the U.S.

The Army National Guard will enjoy a high profile presence at the 2012 Super Y-League North American Finals through the presentation of limited-edition medals to all participants, venue signage and on-site elements. Other aspects of the partnership will see the Army National Guard partner with PDL, W-League, Super-20 League and Super Y-League clubs on youth camps and clinics throughout 2013, while also having a presence at the 2013 USL Youth AGM January 16-19 in Indianapolis.

Quick kicks
Lionel Messi is appearing in a series of Head & Shoulders ads designed specifically to reach U.S. Hispanic males. The Barcelona star joins a distinguished roster of U.S. all-star athletes including Troy Polamalu from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Joe Mauer from the Minnesota Twins, and most recently, the most decorated Olympian, Michael Phelps.

Full Moon Wheels has become the title sponsor of San Diego Boca FC. The company creates custom car wheels/rims, including one with a soccer theme.

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