The Scottish Premier League has appointed a former United Distillers & Vintners (UDV) sponsorship chief as marketing director.
Stewart Thompson starts this week and replaces Paul Blanchard, who has joined English Premier League club Southampton as commercial director.
Thompson spearheaded UDV’s sponsorship of the Bell’s League Championship and Hennessy Gold Cup. He was also responsible for running the UK division of the Johnnie Walker Ryder Cup.
One of Thompson’s first jobs will be to secure a new broadcast rights contract for the Bank of Scotland-sponsored league. The deal, worth £45m two years ago, is shared between Sky and BBC Scotland and expires in May 2002.
Talks over the new contract will open soon. NTL, which sponsors the top two clubs in the league – Celtic and Rangers – is likely to join Sky and the BBC around the negotiating table.
Thompson says: “I will build the Premier League as a brand and increase revenue through sponsorship and other commercial activities.”
As well as the Bank of Scotland headline deal, the league has associate sponsorship contracts with McDonald’s, Express Newspapers, Mitre and Panini.
Before joining the Scottish Premier League, Thompson worked for sports sponsorship consultancy The Sports Business.