Ex-Premier chief sets up agency

Stephen Pearson, the former commercial director of football’s Premier League, is launching a sports marketing agency, Sportacus.

The company aims to develop the UK and European market for sports-venue naming rights, signing up blue-chip clients to sponsor new football stadiums and other sports venues, such as rugby, athletics and motor-racing arenas.

Pearson says the agency could also handle rights for other venues of national interest, citing the Millennium Dome as an example.

Sportacus is backed by investors including Rob Hersov, founder and chief executive of online sports network Sportal, and Michael Watt, founder of TV sports-rights and distribution company CSI.

The US naming-rights market is worth more than $3bn (&£2.1bn), but the European market is worth less than $100m (&£70m), according to Pearson.

Pearson, who quit the Premier League in March 1999, has been hired by Coventry Football Club on a 12-month contract. He is employed as a consultant on naming rights for Arena 2000, the multi-purpose stadium that will be the club’s new home from 2002.

He says: “While I have been working for Coventry FC, I have recognised the gap in the market for naming rights. I have now set up Sportacus to exploit that.”

He says Sportacus is already discussing naming rights with several venues across Europe. He adds: “Global brands are attracted to this marketing opportunity, particularly new-technology companies, which are using stadiums to demonstrate their products and services in a real-life environment.”

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