Niels de Vos, former commercial director of the Manchester Commonwealth Games 2002, has been appointed chief executive of Rugby Union club Sale Sharks.
De Vos now plans to turn the North-west rugby team into a world rugby brand offering a host of sponsorship opportunities. His brief is to turn the team “into the Manchester United of Premiership rugby”.
He will be overseeing the team’s move to a new stadium next year and a rebranding as The Sharks.
De Vos became commercial director for the Commonwealth Games in 1999 and raised an estimated &£35m in sponsorship revenue. Previously he was general manager, sponsorship, at the Millennium Dome.
The team, owned by Everest Double Glazing group chairman Brian Kennedy, is based at the Heywood Road stadium in Greater Manchester.
The Rugby Union has ruled that Zurich Premiership clubs must have stadiums with a minimum 10,000 capacity from next season. Sale Sharks, with a 4,600 capacity venue, will have to move or improve its site.
De Vos believes The Sharks will be able to offer a number of sponsorship and commercial opportunities when the team has a new ground. Current shirt sponsors are AMD Microprocessors.
“The Sharks are the only Premiership rugby club in the North-west, with 15 million people within an hour’s drive,” says De Vos. “We believe we can take a quantum leap and build a real sports brand.”