Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Governance & Commercial Growth, Partnerships, Sport Business | Feb 17, 2021 | 8 min read

The lede: Your next big idea is in here.

By James Emmett

Hello everyone, and thanks for having me in your inbox once again. Welcome to the Leaders Digest, your fortnightly magpie’s guide to the glittery bits to look out for across the sports business and the industries that shape and inform it.

6  Questions, Answered

1.)    Travis Scott in Fortnite, Lil Nas in Roblox, now Post Malone in Pokémon, surely sport will get inside a game for a live broadcast soon?
You’d think so. But which sport, and which game?

2.)    Why all the noise about audio?
I enjoyed this Unofficial Partner podcast about the opportunity in audio for sport, and I’m watching Rich Greenfield’s new audio-focussed fund with interest. Personally, I think we’re at an odd inflection point with audio and it’s almost as if we’ve gone giddy with the tech. We want apps to spin the written word into audio so we don’t have to spend the time reading, and software to transcribe audio back into written text so we don’t have to listen to it. Basically, we want technology to implant information directly into our brains so we don’t have to bother doing the work of consuming it. That being said, I would relish a WhatsApp group in which Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta dropped voice notes explaining his bamboozling substitution decisions to me (and a few million of my closest friends) immediately after the game.

3.)    We all know about Cazoo and Cinch, but where can I find the next company about to spend big on sports sponsorship?
Keen lingerie biz observer Tim Crow makes an astute observation here. All eyes on Rihanna’s pants company.

4.)    What one thing have you learned from Mark Ritson this week?
There’s a lot to learn from the great man’s 14-step guide to an effective presentation. He’s writing about marketing planning, but this one is universal: 20 slides, 60 minutes. Nothing should ever, ever require more than that.

5.)    Had we but world enough, and time – as well as some grade-A coding skills and a joyful naivety about rights and geo-blocking – what would we build?
This, but for sports broadcasters around the globe.

6.)    Is your next big idea in here?
Pinched, unashamedly, from Matthew Stone’s excellent Performance Digest. The Next Big Idea Club reviews all the latest non-fiction so that you don’t have to (but then ultimately recommends two good books that you should make time for).


Get me on the guestlist

–    Harlequins have launched the first LGBTQ+ supporters group and are running a webinar at 1900 GMT exploring ‘how can rugby improve its support of the LGBTQ+ community and why does it matter?’ Sign up here.

–    You’re invited to our next Diversity Series community call on 26th February at 1600 GMT on managing sustainable change in diversity. Get yourself on the list here.


Tying the threads together

–    A thread on a new way of hiring where the CV comes last.
–    A thread on remote working and why we’re never going back.


The Digest, Digested

Fort consultancy to advise prospective US investors in European football (2 mins)

Rakuten buys Neo’s Sumo wrestler doc (1 min)

RedBird Capital buys into Wasserman Media (1 min)

Giro d’Italia extends IMG International broadcast rights deal (2 mins)

RDA appointed for international media distribution rights to RLWC2021 (1 min)

Olympics content expanded as Discovery and Snapchat renew deal (2 mins)

TikTok becomes official Uefa Euro 2020 sponsor (1 min)

Stratechery – Clubhouse’s Inevitability (10 mins)

The Clubhouse Effect: Is live audio just live video 2.0? (3 mins)


What’s new

–    Sport by Fort – Coca-Cola’s Head of Global Sponsorships Ricardo Fort is leaving the soft drinks giant to set up his own consultancy, Sport by Fort.

–    Gaming in the system – Gaming and esports are now being offered as classes in the Swiss schooling system.


What’s trending?

–    Sumo wrestling – finally, some international interest in the History of the Greatest Sport. Kudos to Andrea Radrizzani and the team at Neo Studios.



The team at EmailAnalytics have lived up to their company name and run the numbers for January for their Productivity Benchmark Report. Looks like, in general, we send the most emails on Monday, but receive the most on Thursday. Curious. The average person receives 83.7 emails a day, and sends 33.4. Are you over or under?




–    Former NFL player Martin Nance has left his role as Senior Director of Marketing and Sports Intelligence at PepsiCo/Gatorade for a new position as EVP and CMO of the Minnesota Vikings.

–    Former Miami Dolphins CCO Todd Kline is leaving his role as SVP, Sports Talent & Properties at Endeavor to take the job of CCO at Tottenham Hotspur.

–    Two Circles have appointed former Barclays director Lakhbir Sandhu as its new CFO. The agency has also promoted George Foster and Dale Kirsop to the positions of MD, UK Services & Products and COO respectively.


–    Are you Premier League Productions’ new Head of Technical Operations & Innovation?
–    Are you Matta’s new Brand & Strategy Director?
–    Are you LA28’s new Consumer Products – Senior Manager of Apparel or Senior Manager, Strategy?
–    Are you the new CEO of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia and New Zealand?
–    Are you Rangers’ new Head of Partnership Management?



How do you manage?

A window into the working worlds of people from across the sports industry now that nothing is as it was.

Nathan Hines is Business Development Director, Premiership Rugby, for Gallagher. He focuses on driving ROI for the insurance firm through its title sponsorship of Premiership Rugby. He won 77 caps for Scotland in an international rugby career that spanned from 2000 to 2011. He lives in Cheshire with his wife and four children.

How are you feeling now on a scale of 1-10?
Today is a good day. A solid 8 I think.

Who was the last person you spoke to before me?
I was on a group call with Land Rover. Both Gallagher and Land Rover are partners of Premiership Rugby and we were trying to make some plans post lockdown. One of the benefits of my job is I get to talk to with people who support sport and its values.

Are you working from home or the office? If both, what’s the split like?
I am 100% from home.

Where do you work? What’s the environment like?
I do have an office in the house but I had to relocate when the schools closed as it is next to the ‘classroom’ for Chloe and Lachlan (twins, 7) and Elliott (3). Our eldest Josh (12) works in his bedroom, as do I. It is a little quieter but I get visitors from time to time offering me cups of tea.

Who do you share your ‘home office’ with? 
At the moment Leann, my wife’s job is teaching the kids. She does 90% of the home schooling which I think is a lot more difficult than my job. I couldn’t imagine the stress of working at the same time as helping with all the class work.

How have you changed as a manager? As a person?
As a manager I have had to adapt. Changing careers from rugby coach, where there was close personal contact every day to business development director and establishing new relationships while working remotely has been challenging. Life and work are intertwined more now than before and I’m taking more time to talk on a personal level to colleagues. Especially those that are finding it more difficult during lockdown.

What does your daily routine look like? How do you run your job and your life?
Usually start at 0530 with a run or go to the gym (if open). If I am really busy I catch up on emails or admin instead. 0800 is getting everyone ready for their day then I tend to do a 9-5 while working from home.

Early mornings or late nights?
I’m better in the mornings but I’m happy to pick up things when the kids are in bed.

How do you cope with stress? How do you focus? 
Exercise has always been a part of my life and after playing rugby professionally it is a habit that has stayed with me. It helps me with my mood and gives me time to think about what’s going on at work and at home.

How do you unwind?
I cook. Usually I bake cakes. I’m not a master baker but my four customers are easy to please.

Who do you consider your mentor to be?
I don’t have an official mentor but I have two people who I would consider would be. Vern Cotter who is now coaching Fiji, helped me as a person and as a coach. If I need honest feedback, I know where to get it. Much like Simon Waine, my manager at Gallagher, who is helping me adapt to my career change with his wisdom and knowledge.

This is an edited extract from the full interview, which is available here.​​​​


The early bird catches the worm
Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital has purchased a stake of ‘between 30% and 40%’ in Wasserman Media, the agency run by his long-time friend Casey Wasserman. The RedBird stake was acquired from Madrone Capital Partners, the only other investor in the Wasserman business.

Agency plays
The scramble for business that the pandemic might have precipitated in the agency world could well be offset by a new mood of caution across rights holder organisations which now can’t afford to take a risk in navigating the newly choppy international rights sales waters on their own. Two significant deals this week: IMG’s renewal of its Giro d’Italia distribution deal with RCS Sport, and the global Rugby League World Cup rights going to RDA.

Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney spent time with former Liverpool CEO Peter Moore before pushing the button on their £2 million deal to buy Welsh football club Wrexham. According to Moore, it was the Netflix documentary ‘Sunderland ‘til I die’ that really convinced the pair to invest in British football – both the warts ‘n’ all documentary style, which they are aiming to replicate on their ownership ‘journey’, and the clear connection between the football club and the hard-bitten community it sits within. Although Moore has ruled himself out of the running for the Wrexham CEO job, could former Sunderland CEO Martin Bain – the star of the Netflix doc – be set for a return to our screens?

Deal o’clock
The importance to sport of short-form video social platforms Snap and TikTok was reinforced last week when, on the same day, Snapchat renewed its Olympic deal with Discovery and Eurosport, and TikTok became the fourth Chinese-owned sponsor of Euro 2020.


Longer read

–    Clubhouse is an odd one. So much has already been written about so little. I’ve been impressed by the building momentum of user sign-ups, the canny manufacturing of scarcity and the subtly gamified invitation process that has fueled it; less so with the product itself. Fortunately, the smart folks are on to it, and their takes are red hot. Here’s the Stratechery view, and Alan Wolk’s prediction.


Thanks for reading this edition of the Leaders Digest. We’ll have another for you in a fortnight; and if you haven’t subscribed yet, do remember to opt-in here.

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