The week’s news included; European Super League Saga explained, Chanel loses trademark lawsuit against Huawei, CMA approves Issa Brothers takeover of Asda, TikTok sued for illegally collecting children’s’ data.
Opinion articles of the week:
Opinion articles of the week:
- City AM -Jose Mourinho: Could sacked boss claim unfair dismissal by Tottenham?
- Sky News – Climate change: Net-zero cannot be achieved by planting a few trees or keeping lights switched off a bit more.
- City A.M – UK set for ‘very rapid growth’ over next quarters, says BoE’s Broadbent
1. EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE SAGA
Last week saw a whirlwind in the football world as 12 European clubs, sought to form a breakaway league. The European Super League was suddenly announced last Sunday, with seemingly no consultation from those outside of the clubs’ governing bodies. Understandably, this sparked staunch criticism from across the football world.
The 12 founding members, AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona Chelsea, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Spurs would have become permanent participants, with no chance of relegation. 3 teams were considering joining while a further 5 spots would have been available to other clubs based on merit. Each of the founding members would have pocketed a huge £3.5 billion each. The teams would have dropped out of UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League, which currently teams qualify for primarily via domestic performance.
For the owners of the clubs, the Super League would provide a steady stream of income, immune for the nail-biting drama of qualification. All the founding clubs are in significant debt except Chelsea, and the income from the league would have provided welcome windfall.
This sparked criticism over the league’s rejection of meritocracy and wanton greed. For fans, this would provide a stale competition, removing the risk or reward of performances. Furthermore, there were threats of expulsion from domestic leagues meaning the clubs’ only games may have been in the ESL. For footballing bodies, UEFA and the UK’s FA, this could cause significant financial loss as their largest clubs could be dropping out. This meant all voices were united in the football world against the proposals. Even Boris Johnson threatened to take action against the league.
All clubs except Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus subsequently decided to formally pull out. Investment bank JP Morgan has been the largest investor and the driving force behind the league. It has now admitted it misjudged the appetite for the league.
Real Madrid President and proposed Head of the ESL, Florentino Perez has however, fired back at the reneging clubs and warned that they cannot leave. He notes all clubs signed binding contracts and cannot simply pull out. Perez said the Super League was not over, simply on standby and he hopes plans will move forward soon.
2. POSTMASTERS CLEARED
The UK Supreme Court has quashed the conviction of 39 former postmasters in one of the UK’s largest miscarriages of justice. The Post Office workers were convicted for theft and false accounting when money went missing from Post Office branches. Over 700 sub-postmasters were prosecuted between 2000 and 2014. It transpired they never committed these crimes, and the missing money was due to a faulty computer system, Horizon. The Post Office agreed a £58 million settlement with 550 sub-postmasters. This latest ruling clears a further 39 postmasters and paves the way for further legal action. Postmasters can now bring civil cases for malicious prosecution and this could prove costly for Royal Mail.
3. CHANEL LOSES HUAWEI TRADEMARK LAWSUIT
Fashion brand Chanel has lost a trademark lawsuit against Huawei over its logo. Huawei applied for an EU-wide trademark for a new logo for computer hardware in 2017. Chanel objected, claiming the marks were too similar and lodged a complaint in the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The EUIPO dismissed the claim, ruling the Chanel’s and Huawei’s logos were not similar enough to cause confusion. Chanel then took this case to the EU General Court who also dismissed the claim on the same basis. Chanel may now appeal to the European Court of Justice but has not commented whether it will do so. See the two logos here.
4. CMA APPROVES ASDA TAKEOVER
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally approved EG Group’s £6.8 billion acquisition of Asda. There is, however, concern about the impact of competition in 36 different localities. EG Group, owned by the Issa Brothers, owns 395 petrol forecourts in the UK and the CMA have said acquisitions of Asda could lead to higher petrol prices for drivers. If EG can address these concerns, then the CMA will not conduct a further investigation. EG is likely to sell off the forecourts of concern to allow the deal to pass. Furthermore, it was recognised that EG will likely retain Asda’s low prices as they incentivize shoppers to come in store.
EG will take on $1 billion of Asda’s debt as part of the deal and has already announced some significant changes coming in to help bolster finances. It will reduce product range and focus on volume, reduce the proportion of freehold stores, and explore introducing more concessions. Whether EG can turn Asda’s fortunes around remains to be seen.
5. AUSTRALIA – UK TRADE DEAL
Australia and Britain are close to finalising a new trade deal and hope to sign off by June. The deal is estimated to be worth an addition £500 million to the UK economy. British trade secretary Liz Truss has said that great progress has been made between the two sides and finer details just need to be finalised. This would be an important post-Brexit trade deal. It would be a tailored deal as opposed to a rollover. Most deals agreed so far have been rollover deals to continue trading on the same terms as under EU membership. The trade deal with Japan, finalised in October 2020, is the only other major non-rollover that has already been agreed.
6. AMAZON STEPS INTO HAIRDRESSING
Amazon is branching out into yet another field, hairdressing. The tech giant is opening a high-tech salon in London. Here, customers can view how a hairstyle would look on them, before getting the cut, with Amazon’s augmented reality mirrors. Also, customers can point to a product on a shelf and instantly see further information and brand videos on a screen. Amazon will partner with London salon Neville Hair & Beauty to provide the styling and hair care services. Pricing has not been revealed nor have plans for further expansion.
7. TIKTOK SUED FOR DATA PROTECTION BREACHES
TikTok is being sued for illegally collecting personal data from millions of children across Europe. The lawsuit has been brought forward by Anne Longfield, the former children’s commissioner of England. Data shows that 44% of 8–12-year-olds currently use the app and certain protections must be in place to collect data of children. Longfield’s lawyers claim that collects children’s data such as phone numbers, location data and biometric data without sufficient protections. This lawsuit could cost TikTok billions in compensation and fines due to breaches of data protection law. Millions of child users throughout the UK and EU could be entitled to thousands of pounds in damages.
8. CLUBHOUSE HITS $4BN
Social audio app Clubhouse has run a funding round and achieved a valuation of $4 billion. The app has grown in popularity over the latest lockdown and has even had events with Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. Clubhouse is an invitation-only audio social media app. It is an audio-only app that hosts virtual rooms for live discussions. Users can join a discussion either to speak or just to listen. Clubhouse has 10 million active users, increasing five-fold in just 3 months. Given its meteoric rise to prominence, social media giants are mimicking Clubhouse’s features. Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Telegram, Discord and LinkedIn are all creating similar functions within their apps. Twitter was even in talks to buy Clubhouse for $4 billion but talks recently broke down.
9. BRITCOIN ON THE WAY?
The Bank of England has revealed plans to explore setting up a digital currency. Such a currency would be issued by the bank in conjunction with cash and deposits. A new taskforce will be set up and it would examine the risks and benefits of such a currency.
Given the meteoric rise of cryptocurrencies, interest from central banks has peaked of its use cases. While central banks would certainly not adopt any existing currencies, the creation of new tender is becoming increasingly attractive. China is already trialling its digital yuan and many Western countries are examining this. No timetable has been revealed yet.
10. PIZZA EXPRESS NEW JOBS
After slashing 2,400 jobs last year, Pizza Express will now hire 1,000 new workers as lockdown eases. The pizza chain was hammered by coronavirus restrictions which saw it close numerous sites permanently. It has now opened 118 sites with outdoor dining and expects high levels of business once indoor dining resumes in June. Pizza Express’ 7700 staff have been on furlough but are gradually being recalled. The high streets have been battered during the pandemic, but most stores have remained afloat. Check out our insight article exploring the future of the high street.