By Davis Karashani
It’s that time of the four year cycle when the globe stands still for ordinarily 90 minutes of sporting greatness to witness the culmination of 32 nations battle it out to etch their names into the history books and live beyond mortality. As a great fictitious war lord stated,” History doesn’t remember blood, it remembers names”, Lord Corlys Velaryon.
The data analytics accounted for approximately 3.57 billion human beings that watched the 2018 World Cup final between France and Croatia in Russia that was played in a packed to capacity Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. However, your guess is as good as mine that the same data analytics project nearly two times viewership numbers witnessing football royalty among 32 nations take center stage on Qatari ‘sand’ turned into football stadia engineering marvels.
In recent days gone by, the Hamad International Airport has been buzzing with excitement and immigration activity as the gate way into Qatar as fans from all over the world continue showing up in drones to be part of history in the first football world cup to be held in the middle east that will most likely than not be the last dance for arguably the best football players of our lifetime in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
However, the focus of this article will be the possible takeaways for fans, businessmen and sports administrators who obviously cannot get their hands on the coveted 18 carat gold 6.175 kilograms trophy but are cognizant of what could be endless possibilities.
The mind boggling capital investment of $220 Billion by Qatar already pumped into the 2022 FIFA World Cup vis a vis the anticipated financial return on investment contrary to the $14 billion invested by Russia four years ago; are clear manifestations of the evolution of sport from a pass time activity to a commercially viable multibillion dollar industry with immense investment opportunities. As a continent, there is no clearer example of the context as the positive commercial return on investment for the resource investment injected in by Morocco as a nation.
It’s no doubt, a privilege to draw breath in an era where entrepreneurs seek to improve their capital while still decreasing dependence on borrowing by tapping into asset-based financing, alternative debt, hybrid instruments and equity instruments which will be our subject of discussion in this publication.
Whereas many enterprises have raised funds by bootstrapping which is utilization of personal funds, sweat equity, company operating revenues or even liquidity runaways: hence growth without outside investment, entrepreneurs have been cognizance of the evolution, “not to be influenced by the weather of the day, but inevitably be alive to the climate of the era”, as stated by US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg quoting Paul Freund.
The emergence of alternative financing options such as Private Equity, Venture Capital, Angel groups and crowd funding platforms in Uganda which are more long term than traditional debt, can be traced back to the first ever Private Equity and Venture Capital conference in 2015 organized by the Uganda Investment Authority.
Whereas the bulk of all venture-funded investments injected into Uganda was received by Fintech companies accounting for up to 90%, the evolution of alternative financing options continues to take shape into other spheres of the global economy including sports. Venture Capital as an alternative financing option is tailor made for startup companies believed to have long-term growth potential that are early or at seed level in their growth which might not have enough cash flow to get formal debt.
Viability of Sports
The timing of the 2022 FIFA World Cup provides the perfect reminder to investors about the commercial viability in sports business thus a great time for sports administrators and business persons to keep their ears on the ground on what ensues between 5-7 December, Cape Town, South Africa at the Super Return Africa Summit. The Western Cape will not only provide the sightseeing tourist wonders of the ‘Table mountain’ and big waves hitting the coast line but will host Africa’s best private capital event that will have some of the biggest general and limited partners on the continent for three days that could change lives of numerous companies in Africa.
In the era of alternative financing options, the ‘wealthy class’ has found both excitement and profit making opportunities in rolling a dice on budding business models in need of a capital boost. Investment companies run by competent venture capitalists will meet up with investors to network and explore the most pertinent investment market trends on topics of analysis such as sustainability, infrastructure trends, filling the financing gaps, disruptive technology, co-investments, diversity and talent all lined up for discussion.
As a nation (Uganda) blessed with ingenuity by her people, entrepreneurs today need not shy away from the commercial opportunities that arise from sports business. Whereas a number of sports structures exist in the Pearl of Africa, now is a good time to get houses in order and build structures of what look like business model that show intent of income generation rather than simply a past time activity exactly as Arua Hill Football Club has done.
It is this direction that sports administrators could put into consideration to allow themselves tap into alternative funding options from sports investment companies such as the Venturerock that includes investors such as former Dutch soccer player Mark van Bommel which has already accelerated more than 700 startups following the launch on $75 Million venture investment company focused on sports projected to reach $40 Billion by 2026.
Bottom line; as we sit, dance and enjoy the festivities that come with the FIFA 2022 World Cup (hopefully Messi lifting the World Cup trophy) and most of all Peter Drury commentary, now is a great time for sports to rise up from awaiting hand outs and individual contributions but rather create watertight commercially viable structures that attract venture capital, angel investors, private equity and other evolving alternative financing options.
The writer is a lawyer and former Cricket Cranes Captain