I made the trip to Lisbon last week to see Everton get thumped 5-0 by Benfica in the Europa League.
It’s a nice city and all, and I’d never been before, but the football made for a bit of a downer.
I wrote up the few days for excellent Everton fansite ToffeeWeb.com. I’d have called my piece Stadium of Darkness, but they got their first with their own report. Here’s a taste of my story:
As an Irish Everton fan who lives in Seville, I was only delighted when Benfica came out of the draw giving the chance to take a trip to Lisbon and the Stadium of Light. During our last UEFA campaign I got to see the 2-0 win in Nuremburg, and despite this season’s irregular results and injury pileup, I was hopeful of a similar game and positive experience this time around. I was, of course, wrong.
Besides spending €200 each way on direct flights, the handiest way to get to Lisbon from Seville is by overnight bus. Arriving at 6AM when it’s still dark did give me a good chance to have a look around the city before the game. Lonely Planet suggested a climb up the hills over the city, and the view is pretty spectacular with the dotted red roofs, craggy castle, sparkling river et cetera. Also, the streets around by the castle, with windy cobbled lanes, rickety rusty trams and colouredy clothes flapping from windows, were picturesque enough. Down in the stone cathedral someone’s mobile went off with the Z-cars theme, presumably some fans in saying a prayer for the quick return of Mikel, Jags, Peanuts, Phil etc etc.
After lunch I got the metro out to the ground. I had booked my ticket from the Benfica website, and the collection all worked very easily. There was plenty of beer available from a bar built into the ground – right next to the electronics superstore, just down from the swimming pool and car dealership – so I got me plastic pint and soaked in some of the atmosphere, with some funny banter between locals and Blues outside.
To find out exactly how badly things went for the team once the game kicked off, you can read the rest of the report through here to the ToffeeWeb site.
I had a feature piece on sports sponsorship in the Sunday Business Post on Sunday. It was an interview with Gary Rice, head of sport at Beauchamps solicitors.
A couple of things stood out for me from our chat. First, that that sponsorship contracts now include extra clauses to protect the rights holders from problems with the sponsor, rather than the other way around. The other, possibly more interesting, point was is that legislative change might be coming down the line to ban betting, drinks and fast food companies from sponsoring sports teams. That would have serious effects for pretty much all front line sports – including the Premiership, Champions League, Heineken Cup, Olympics etc etc etc. One interesting thing I spotted while researching the piece was that both Milan and Madrid are sponsored by the same betting company (see pic).
Anyway, here’s what Gary Rice said:
‘The association of betting and sport is an issue, particularly for some European countries, which take a far more rigorous view of the issue than the authorities in Ireland and Britain. A lot of the world authorities are uncomfortable in particular with the linkage of alcohol with sport. There are already a number of reports circulating calling for a ban on alcohol sponsorship of sport in various jurisdictions, particularly in Australia. The connection between fast food and sport is also an unhappy one for a lot of governments and health bodies around the world, and this is emerging as an issue.”
Read the full story on the SBP website here.
Beauchamps Solicitors sports page is here.