IMG closes its European football division

Sports agency IMG has folded its European football division, making about 15 per cent of employees redundant including managing director Philip Grother and senior executive Philip Hauber. The move follows the death of founder Mark McCormack last month.

The company has suffered from the general downturn in the football sponsorship industry as well as specific losses to its football business. As a result, it has moved its remaining business and staff to its London-based television distribution arm TWI.

Jonathan Hill, former head of the football division, left to become marketing director for Wembley National Stadium in January.

IMG is now in talks about the immediate future of its player-management business, with a sale strongly tipped as a possibility given the personal involvement of those people who have been made redundant.

The company challenged TEAM Marketing but failed to win Champions League work last year (MW January 31, 2002), while the majority of player-management work has been lost to rivals such as SFX Sports.

IMG Europe president Eric Drossart says the company’s business strategy in football has shifted towards specialising in TV rights, moving away from the playermanagement sector.

Drossart adds: “TWI in London is the natural home now for the business, which generates about 85 per cent from TV. We are still aggressively involved in the business but with reduced personnel and a shift in strategy.”

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