| Oct 5, 2016

As a buzzing day at Stamford Bridge becomes a bustling evening in its environs, welcome to your on-the-button round-up of the Leaders Sport Business Summit 2016. We can’t promise this will be comprehensive, but it should at least provide a few nuggets from what was an action-packed programme once again.

The SportBusiness chaps have been chronicling the day on their excellent (and free) live blog platform, so do check that out. All four content streams were covered – which was a tough ask, but adroitly done.
We’re off to Frankie’s for one of those famous Leaders After Parties – more on that in tomorrow’s round-up no doubt – but in the meantime, catch up on a business-card busting day below.



  • The NBA EVP & CMO Pam El leaning in on the front row for Maverick Carter’s Uninterrupted session. Pam, it seems, is a fully paid up LeBron fan. Just don’t tell Kobe.
  • Sport England Chairman and London Marathon chief Nick Bitel watching an eSports session intently in an overflow room, while simultaneously playing a game on his phone. Interactive? Engaged? Suggestible? You make the call. Bitel, like the majority of the sports industry, is trying to understand which way the wind is blowing with eSports. In the meantime, fact fans, here’s a quick Bitel fact: he’s a closet Championship Manager 2001/02 player, and is currently managing Wigan in the 2011 season. Hasn’t quite cracked the Champions League yet.
  • Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark embracing his Philadelphia counterpart Scott O’Neil in the speaker room. They stick together, those NBA boys, and their culture of sharing at executive level is admirable. Later on, Yormark revealed his latest wheeze in a private CEO forum: outsourced decision-making. He’s put together an advisory board of some of the brightest minds in media, fashion and entertainment across America. It’s working like a dream; provides him with a ‘CEO insurance policy’; and is something he’s about to replicate internationally.
  • Scott Bowers, Jockey Club communications guru and near-enough professional moderator, honing his questioning style in the speaker room. An admission: if you saw any other sessions begin today with a quick-fire ‘let’s get to know you’ round of questions, it’s a red-hot piece of Bowers IP.
  • Some real life deal-making. Leaders partners HotelPlanner sealed a deal with Swansea City today.
  • An office jester getting in there early on the in-house Leaders Whatsapp group: “James, you’ll be wanting to try this Scott O’Neill ‘CEO for a day’ idea then”.



  • OgilvyOne’s Executive Creative Director Rory Sutherland: “Contactless payment makes things feel 15% cheaper for the consumer.” We feel at least 15% more informed after listening to the tremendously entertaining Sutherland.
  • CONCACAF President and Fifa VP Victor Montagliani: “It doesn’t matter how old or unfit you are, you always feel like that 12-year-old who fell in love with the game. I try to keep that kid inside me.”
  • Discovery Networks International President JB Perrette: “We’re thrilled to have Formula One in the family. We won’t be sharing anything now, but look forward to speaking further down the road.”
  • LeBron’s business partner Maverick Carter: “The ‘Decision’ was scrutinised and that was great. When you’re blazing a trail you expect some blowback, but we didn’t expect it to be that bad. Actually we used the same framework when he moved back to Cleveland. It’s all about controlling the message. That’s what Uninterrupted is about.”

In between his Ryder Cup gag and his creative pronunciation of Carles Puyol’s name, Leaders founder James Worrall mentioned we’d been hard at it for a day already. He was right; we hosted the Fan Marketing Summit and the Future Stadium Summit for a hand-picked band of rights holders here at Stamford Bridge yesterday. A conference wouldn’t be a conference without a conference write-up. So here are brace of them:


Do people still say tweeps?

@Ridyard: Superb insights into Neuromarketing and Behavioural Economics with Rory Sutherland

@samcunningham: Brady: ‘A stadium doesn’t make a club, it’s the people who support it.’ #Leaders16

@JakeFCohen: Very cool panel at #Leaders16 – CEOs of Liverpool, Inter Milan + Aston Villa share the stage to talk about capturing emerging Asian markets

@gdicastri: The average age of an NFL fan is 47. Ave player of esports, 22. 70% of esports audience, under 34.#numbers #Leaders16

@StepanHanus: Great session full of passion hold by Pamela El, @NBAOfficial. Wish to be so enthusiastic in my job, too.#Leaders16


The cameras were off, but the tongues were wagging in one of the most eagerly anticipated sessions of the day, as West Ham Vice Chairman Baroness Karren Brady sat down with Napoli Chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis. We had a man on the ground with a pen and a pad. And here’s what he turned out:

The rhetoric was a tale of two personalities: The Baroness’ professional, sensible approach to growing West Ham’s global appeal while remembering its blue-collar foundations vs. Mr. De Laurentiis’ straight-shooting, bombastic vision for reforming European football and creating a new world order

  • From humble beginnings – “no players, no facilities, just a name” – Mr. De Laurentiis discussed his business-centric approach to growing Napoli after his initial purchase, explain that his team spent an entire year securing the full image rights for Gonzalo Higuain during his transfer to the club
  • As the audience warmed to both speakers, moderator Brad Ruskin of Proskauer broached the topic of global expansion, and the fireworks were lit. Mr. De Laurentiis proclaimed, “clubs should not be constrained by UEFA…let them be entrepreneurial…salaries are not paid by [FIFA President Gianni] Infantino,” as he outlined his vision of an annual, closed-off, cash-rich tournament restricted to Europe’s largest clubs
  • The Baroness rebutted by defending the current Champions League setup, which requires all teams to qualify, commenting that “once you start selecting who plays, you lose the merit of competition” and that cash influx in the game is eroding the traditional values of sport
  • As attendees hung on every word, the conversation careened from the impact of Brexit on the Premier League to West Ham’s upcoming film, “Iron Men,” which documents the club’s move to the Olympic Stadium through the eyes of fans (“You will give to distribution rights to me?” Mr. De Laurentiis inquired)
  • As the conversation wound to a close, The Baroness espoused the new value proposition that West Ham can offer: sold-out hospitality, a huge waitlist for tickets, concessions tickets for 10,000 young fans. Again, Mr de Laurentiis wanted a piece of the action: “You will sell West Ham to me?” to which she responded, “I don’t think you can afford it.” As the moderator adeptly pointed out, every negotiation has its opening gambit.

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