Qatar’s FIFA World Cup got underway on November 20 as the 67,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium staged the host nation’s 2-0 defeat against Ecuador.
Prior to kick-off, an opening ceremony featured fireworks displays and performances from K-pop sensation Jungkook and Qatari singer Farhad Al Kubaisi. The match itself was overshadowed by the sight of thousands of empty seats in the second half, with many locals opting to leave at half-time.
Just days before the opening game, FIFA confirmed a major about-turn by announcing that alcoholic beverages would no longer be sold to fans inside or around the perimeter of stadia in Qatar.
The announcement essentially restricted tournament sponsor AB InBev to selling its alcoholic beverages to fans in the hospitality areas of venues.
Although Premier League football was paused for the World Cup, there were major developments at two of the division’s biggest clubs, Liverpool and Manchester United.
Firstly, Liverpool’s owner Fenway Sports Group confirmed that it was considering new shareholders for the club. The Athletic reported that a full sales presentation had been produced for interested parties, with FSG said to be considering selling a club it has owned since 2010.
Later in the month, United issued a statement announcing the commencement of a process that will consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club and a sale.
The review will also include an assessment of several initiatives to strengthen the club, including the redevelopment of its Old Trafford stadium and infrastructure. Reports claimed that the Glazer family could want anything from £5bn (€5.7bn/$6bn) to as much as £9bn for a complete sale.
In other news, the Miami Heat NBA basketball team terminated its arena naming-rights deal with FTX after the cryptocurrency firm filed for bankruptcy.
The team and Miami-Dade County, which owns FTX Arena, are now working together to find a new sponsor. FTX acquired naming rights to the arena in April 2021 in a deal worth a reported $135m over 19 years.
Staying in the US, plans were unveiled for a first permanent stadium for Major League Soccer team New York City FC in the borough of Queens.
The 25,000-seat facility is slated to open in 2027, with NYCFC to serve as a partner in the project alongside Queens Development Group. NYCFC has played at Yankee Stadium since debuting in MLS in 2015.
Back in England, Frasers Group, a retail company owned by Mike Ashley, secured ownership of the Coventry Building Society Arena after the venue’s operating companies applied to be placed into administration.
Frasers Group’s bid was worth a reported £17m and was selected ahead of a rival proposal from stadium tenant Coventry City, whose bid arrived too late.