As we approach the end of 2020, Insider Sport is looking back at the top stories from each month of what has been a turbulent year.
In the final two months of the year, the Gambling Act review looms over the sports sector, with many clubs’ partnerships with betting operators set to come under scrutiny. Meanwhile, Olympic organisers began preparations for the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Games, which will be the most expensive tournament in history.
The most significant development towards the end of 2020 was the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s decision to review the 2005 Gambling Act. This reform, which was a key pledge made by Boris Johnson in his 2019 election manifesto, will bring the sponsorship of professional sports clubs by gambling companies into the spotlight.
Reformers such as Lord Grade of Yarmouth, who chairs the House of Lords Select Committee on gambling issues, called for betting sponsors to be banned from sports. However, Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters has said that the league would cooperate with the review but could not accept a ban on gambling sponsors.
Elsewhere, British jockey Hollie Doyle made history in November by becoming the first jockey to receive the Sunday Times’ prestigious ‘Sportswoman of the Year Award’ in its 33 year history. She was presented with the accolade a month after becoming the first woman to win a Champions Day race at Royal Ascot, and the rising star looks set to become the face of global horse racing.
Much of the focus this winter has been on the Tokyo Olympics, which had been postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made in December to introduce a range of new sports to its roster, including surfing, skateboarding and sports climbing. Most notably, breakdancing, known as ‘breaking,’ will debut at the 2024 Paris Olympics, following a successful trial at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Argentina.
Moreover, it was also revealed that the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics would cost organisers around 200 billion yen, and reports from Japan suggested a further 100 billion yen would be needed to maintain anti-Covid measures during the tournament. Some economic experts, such as University of Oxford academic Bert Flybjerg, estimated that the bill for the Tokyo Olympics currently stands at £15.84 billion, making it the most expensive Olympic games on record.
Many boxing fans were intrigued by the return of heavyweight icon Mike Tyson who returned to face the legendary multi-division champion Roy Jones Jr in an exhibition bout. DraftKings were quick to capitalise on the much anticipated match, signing an agreement to become the official sponsor of the event. DraftKings added to its portfolio, later signing a lucrative deal with the National Hockey League’s Nashville Predators, becoming the team’s daily fantasy sports provider and official betting operator.
Finally, the football world was rocked by the news that famous Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney had bid for National League club Wrexham AFC. The duo told the Wrexham Supporters Trust at a virtual Zoom meeting that they intended to turn the Welsh non-league side into a ‘global force’ once their takeover was complete.
The club’s Director Spencer Harris told Insider Sport in an exclusive interview that the pair intended to use their Hollywood links to make a Netflix-esque documentary about the club: “There will be a documentary – that work is already underway and has been for a couple of weeks.
“If you look at what these guys are trying to do with the club, what better way than to get worldwide exposure to the brand that they’re trying to create and build than to expose that to a worldwide audience through a documentary?
“t will have a sprinkling of not just sport and local people in the area and what’s happening around the football club with this change of ownership, but we’ll have links to Hollywood and the entertainment business through the likes of Rob and Ryan, and their involvement in this going forward.”