One thing to start:liverpool fc and boston red sox owner is in talkswith the blank cheque company co-founded by billy beane of moneyballfame, in a potential deal to cut his sports holdings public at a valuation of $8bn, according to two people familiar with the matter.

In this edition of scoreboard, we explain why hollywood talent agency icm partners has acquired the uk company that represents footballers like gareth bale, hail the national basketball associations $150m bubble that kept coronavirus at bay, explore why the uk horseracing industry believes a financial crisis is an opportunity for tax reform, chronicle the saga of arsenals gunnersaurus, and more.

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When gareth bale moved from real madrid to tottenham hotspur last month, it was perhaps the most eye-catching football transfer of the summer and masterminded by the star players representative jonathan barnett.

This week, the super agent completed a more significant transaction: selling stellar group, his london-based company that represents around 800 leading athletes across the world, to hollywood talent agency icm partners.

It was much harder to do the deal through the pandemic, i cant lie, barnett told scoreboard, without revealing financial terms for the transaction. but...i'm quite good at negotiations.

Los angeles-based icmis one of the big four hollywood agencies, alongside creative artists agency, endeavor and united talent agency. it currently represents celebrities like beyonc and jerry seinfeld and is seeking growth by expanding into representing sportspeople for the first time.

Icm chief executive chris silbermann reckons building its sports practice from a base in european football will give the company a competitive edge against american rivals he believes do not quite understand the global resonance of the sport.

But the move comes just when things are getting ugly for the beautiful game.

The continents clubs face a revenue shortfall of 3.6bn over the next two years due to the pandemic, according to the european club association.

Column chart of spending during summer transfer windows (bn) showing transfer fees in europe

Clubs in europes top five leagues in england, spain, italy, germany and france, spent a combined 3.3bn in this summers transfer window, according to transfermarkt, a football data site. this is around 2bn less than was spent in the equivalent period last year.

Reduced spending will hit the pockets of agents, as commissions from player sales are the principal way they make money.

Barnett reckons those agents who represent the top names are struggling least.

This summer, jorge mendes, founder of portugals gestifute agency, will have made healthy commissions from facilitating several transfers, such as defender rben diass $80m move from benfica to manchester city.

A relatively quiet window for mino riola did, however, include a lucrative contract extension for his star client zlatan ibrahimovic at ac milan.

As well as negotiating bales return on loan to tottenham hotspur, barnetts stellar also facilitated defender ben chilwells 50m move from leicester city to chelsea.

But a regulatory clampdown is coming.

Fifa, international footballs governing body, has responded to perceived excesses in the agent industry, by proposing new rules, such as through capping agents fees from transfers.

Barnett has joined with mendes, riola and other top agents in a legal challenge against fifas regulation.

Even if the super agents win that battle, clubs are being forced to re-evaluate the worth of players and are cutting wage bills.

Icm may have just bought stellar at the top of the market. if so, it will be barnetts greatest deal yet.

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The national basketball association's longest, hardest, most bewildering season is drawing to a close with the completion of its finals inside the much-touted bubble at disney world in florida.

While the league is not the first nor the only american sport to carry out its 2020 season in an enclosed environment, nba teams have spent the longest period roughly four months secluded from society in service of completing a season that started last october.

From a public health perspective, the results are stunning. since players and staff entered the bubble in july, not a single case of coronavirus was recorded.

On saturday night live last week, colin jost joked: instead of stopping the bubble when the season ends, why don't they slowly expand it until it covers the entire country?

The logistical success hasn't precluded financial challenges. people familiar with the arrangement put its cost between $150m and $200m. the loss of ticketing revenue from the games played is estimated at approximately $1.7bn, according to ticket iq.

Television ratings for the nba playoffs are down sharply, as games are competing with more us sports than ever before.

Details of the 2 season which, in a normal year, would begin this month are still being finalised. nba commissioner adam silver said that the earliest possible start date would be christmas, but the league understands it needs to give players a rest.

The bubble was definitely a challenge for everyone from a mental health standpoint, michele roberts, executive director of the national basketball players association, told scoreboard.

She said that if the virus is not under control, the logistics of next season may require another bubble but added it's probably the least ideal way to proceed".

Silver has said everything regarding next season is still up for discussion, but that he's looking closely at how other autumn sports, like the english premier league, fare in the coming months.

Part of my job is to study...what other leagues are doing, including international soccer leagues, he said.

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Britains horseracing industry is stumbling.

Uk prime minister boris johnsons decision to tear up plans for paying fans to return to sporting events this month means racecourses could lose up to 300m this year in revenue, according to racecourse association chief executive david armstrong.

That hit will be felt by the likes of the jockey club, which operates 15 leading tracks and runs the grand national, britains top steeplechase, weakening their ability to put up prize money.

Lower prize money could deter investors from buying horses or even send existing owners to overseas markets. racecourses could face closure.

Thats why jockey club chief executive nevin truesdale has been pleading for a government rescue and urging for the return of fans.

Those calls might just be heard. matt hancock, health secretary, is just one racing aficionado in government. his parliamentary constituency includes newmarket, a town known as the home of the uks horseracing and breeding industry.

The crisis has opened the door to a bigger opportunity: reform of the levy, a tax on gambling companies that raised around 95m for the horseracing industry on profits from more than 14bn of bets in 2018.

It sounds like a sweet deal at face value. but frances equivalent of the levy raised 447m in 2016 for france galop, the non-profit that controls the countrys thoroughbred horseracing industry. and in any case, france galop co-owns pmu, the betting operator.

In hong kong, horseracing authorities have a legal betting monopoly, so the scope for leakage from the sport is even more limited.

Racing, which is worth an annual 4bn to the british economy, has had some success in lobbying for alterations to the levy before.

In 2017, the uk government brought in major changes to expand the levy to include online betting revenues.

The british horseracing authority, the industry regulator, says it will assess all the options for levy reform.

One priority is to ensure bets placed by uk punters on irish races are taxed in the uk, given that wagers in ireland on british races already raise money for irish racing.

Another avenue could be to change the way the levy is calculated so that it applies to gambling revenue rather than gross profit.

The government might have to give something to the horseracing industry after barring the return of fans. gambling companies are on notice.

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One you may have missed last week. portugals rio ave was seeking a famous triumph over italian giant ac milan to reach the group stages of the europa league football tournament. the tie went to penalties, leading to one of the most dramatic shoot-outs ever. we think the viewing experience is enhanced by the italian commentators less-than-subtle change of tone when describing the goals and misses.