EXCLUSIVE: Baku 2015 CEO Simon Clegg “Hopeful” of UK TV Deal
By iSportconnect | March 4, 2015
The chief executive of the Baku 2015 European Games tells iSportconnect he is “hopeful” of acquiring a broadcasting partner in the UK for the event this summer.
Speaking on the day the Azeri capital celebrates 100 days to go until the inaugural event, price order Simon Clegg was also mindful that a lot of work needed to be done between now and the opening ceremony in the National Stadium on June 12.
Recently, Baku 2015 announced a deal with cable network Universal Sports Network to broadcast the Games across the USA. Also Setanta have acquired the broadcast rights in Ireland.
But a deal in the UK has yet to emerge, with Clegg admitting negotiations were ongoing.
“I am hopeful that we will have a broadcasting partner in the UK,” Clegg told iSportconnect.
“We are still working on the UK market and I’m not in a position to give any further information in that regard at this stage but what I can tell you is that we continue to be negotiations with a couple of broadcasters.”
BT Sport is thought to be one of the broadcasters involved in the negotiations but at this stage the company could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, it’s not just people watching on TV that Clegg has to worry about – later this month the ticketing scheme will be launched meaning it will be a tight window for ticket sales.
However, Clegg explained that the ticketing pricing strategy they have in place means he can be confident of packing out the venues.
“The pricing policy has been devised to achieve that objective”, he said. “Whether it will be successful or not, only time will tell.
“But I am incredibly confident in the research that was undertaken to come up with those ticket prices to achieve that objective. I’m confident we will sell out the venues.”
BECOG announced that tickets will go on sale between March 19-21 and that prices will range from £12 to £32, maintaining that affordability was key.
An issue that has slightly overshadowed the 100 days to go celebrations has been the news that a report by Amnesty International has condemned Azerbaijan for, it alleges, a number of human rights abuses.
Amnesty’s report says that there are at least 22 prisoners of conscience awaiting trial “following trumped-up charges ranging from fraud and embezzlement to abuse of drugs and even treason”.
In answer to the allegations Clegg was purely focused on sport, not politics.
He said: “Sport has no nationality we’re very focused on delivering the inaugural European Games here. This is a major undertaking… we’re very focused on delivering a sporting event for athletes.”
Baku 2015 will include 253 events in 20 sports and 12 of the Olympic sports involved will use the Games as qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
So there is pressure to get the preparations right – a fact Clegg is aware of.
“100 days to go and still a good amount of work to do,” he said. “I think we should never forget that Baku was given just 30 months to deliver this event – not the seven years that’s normally allowed to prepare for an Olympic or Winter Olympic Games.
“So a little respite today to celebrate the occasion, to make some important announcements here, including ticket prices and to release the design of medals.
“But outside of that a lot of work is going on behind the scenes and of course we’re hosting the gymnastics test event at the moment where I was just at the opening ceremony earlier on today. So another busy day in the office.”
As the clock ticks down until the milestone event, Clegg faces many more busy days before the European Games begins.