Squash aims to get Infront with new media, marketing and gambling deal
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
The PSA is aiming to reinvigorate the sport in multiple business sectors following a long-term deal with international marketing company Infront.
The eight-year agreement was announced today, with Infront taking a minority share in a new PSA division called Squash Media and Marketing.
Infront is a Swiss-based division of the Wanda Sports company, headquartered in China. Providing marketing support to future Olympic bids is one of the areas being explored.
An additional target on the horizon, possibly in partnership with the World Squash Federation, could be to develop the game in China.
The PSA already handles communications and sponsorship for the WSF. And, as well as this new set-up building revenue streams for the PSA, the same energy needs to be addressed to the grass roots of the game to ensure that the pro scene has a future audience to underpin all of the sought-after developments identified in a statement released on Thursday.
Right now squash is in lockdown in most parts of the world, and sponsorship will be harder than ever to leverage as companies seek to establish new ways to do business in a post-Covid landscape.
Digital-based targets have been clearly listed in the SMM partnership agreement and increased media coverage in a hugely competitive market has to be a priority.
In the same week, the booming sport of pickleball, which now dwarfs squash in the USA, announced a broadcast arrangement with ESPN to televise major tournaments.
If Inform can deliver similar TV deals for squash, alongside the necessary sponsorship and marketing support, then the game could finally open up new and lucrative markets.
With the game currently in a state of hibernation because of the coronavirus pandemic, and playing numbers at a crisis point long before lockdown occurred, we wish all parties the best of luck.
Here is the PSA statement in full:
Equity investment and comprehensive media, betting, marketing and digital rights agreement to cover next eight seasons
Zug, Switzerland / Leeds, UK (February 11, 2021) — The Professional Squash Association (PSA) has signed a landmark multi-year agreement with Infront, a Wanda Sports Group company, which will see the leading sports marketing agency become a strategic commercial partner of the global governing body for professional squash.
As part of the collaboration, Infront will acquire a minority stake in Squash Media & Marketing (SMM), a newly created PSA entity which will manage and exploit the commercial rights for the PSA and its key stakeholders moving forward with a view to accelerate the development of the sport.
Infront will look after the monetisation of the full scope of media, betting, sponsorship and digital rights of all SMM controlled properties until the end of the 2028-2029 season which includes the most significant squash tournaments in the world, such as the PSA World Championships and PSA World Tour Finals.
The scope also covers a full redevelopment of SQUASHTV, the PSA’s wholly owned OTT video streaming platform, alongside the introduction of a revamped digital strategy.
Infront will have the opportunity to leverage its global network and expertise to attract potential sponsors to the sport, help globalise the PSA World Tour and support the World Squash Federation (WSF) and the PSA in their quest to get squash included in the Olympic Games.
In addition, SMM and Infront will work closely with the WSF and their regions and member nations to help develop the sport at all levels.
Julien Ternisien, Senior Vice President Summer Sports Infront said: “This new collaboration goes beyond a traditional agreement and we are investing in our belief that squash can further elevate itself to a broader audience.
“Our aim is to bring this dynamic and exciting sport to a wider community by combining our experience in traditional broadcast, OTT media, digital and sponsorship with PSA’s expertise in putting on world-class events. We are looking forward to witnessing just how far we can grow the exposure of squash over the next eight seasons.”
Alex Gough, the Chief Executive Officer of the PSA, is looking forward to the collaboration with Infront. He said: “We are excited to partner with Infront and take squash to the next level.
“Over the past decade we have built a strong media product based around the incredible athleticism and skills of the world’s best squash players with the support of our current partners, but the time is now there to work together with a global powerhouse in sports.
“Our ambitions have always been clear: we want to see squash at the top table of sport, and this new collaboration with Infront means we are taking big strides towards achieving that aim.
“This is a statement of intent from the PSA and we have no doubt that this modern structure combined with a long-term commitment from our new partner will usher the sport into a new era.”
Connecting fans and consumers to the greatest sports events, Infront, a Wanda Sports Group company, offers everything an event or commercial partner needs to be successful. With a team of around 1,000 experts working from 43 offices across 16 countries around the world, Infront is equipped to tackle any challenge – be it innovative digital solutions, world-class event operations, international media rights distribution, sponsorship sales and activations or cutting-edge media production. Headquartered in Switzerland, Infront is passionate and #AllAboutSports. @infrontsports
Picture courtesy of PSA
In my humble opinion, gambling – a known addiction – simply cheapens our sport and makes us appear to be scrambling for crumbs.
If we hope to be accepted as an honorable sport, worthy of continued inclusion in major games and worthy of our universities and institutions of higher learning, this is not the way.
It is the beginning of a slippery slope.
Not a great place for a sport that is struggling to keep its balance.