Tracking sports’ desire for success

The Australian

THE National Rugby League is one of the world’s few major sporting competitions to enforce a salary cap despite the presence of competing leagues in other countries where no such cap is evident.

While average annual player salaries are about one-tenth the level of uncapped European soccer tournaments, the NRL cap has successfully balanced the league’s competitive dynamic.

During the past 15 seasons, 10 different NRL clubs have emerged as grand final victors. By comparison, spoils of the uncapped English Premier League have been focused among just four clubs, while Germany’s Bundesliga has a group of five. The impetus within Australian sport to drive success through means other than player salaries has fuelled the coming listing of Catapult Group.

The technology company was conceived on the back of research collaboration between the Commonwealth Co-operative Research Centre for microtechnology and the Australian Institute of Sport.

It now controls an intellectual property portfolio surrounding the utilisation of inertial sensors (for human movement analysis) and GPS technology for tracking athletes.

A suite of hardware and software products have subsequently been developed for elite sporting organisations designed to appraise fitness and skill levels, training responses, tactical performance, injury risk, and rehabilitation.

With CAT servicing members of the AFL, NRL, Super Rugby, NFL and NBA, its coming float is designed to expand its northern hemisphere presence.

Marketing is scheduled to focus on the company’s subscription-based products, which were launched in 2012 and have seen a doubling in users over the past year.

Proceeds from the float are budgeted to support a doubling in Catapult Group’s North American sales force. However, new investors should consider ongoing funding risks.

While the company has established a dominant market share in Australia’s elite sporting landscape, it remains reliant on external capital.

There is no guarantee it will achieve the required scale to become self-funding. However, with a significant proportion of sales already derived offshore, the risk profile appears acceptable for speculative investors.