Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Governance & Commercial Growth, Partnerships, Sport Business | Mar 18, 2021 | 8 min read

The lede: How to put the ‘fun’ in non-fungible token.

By James Emmett

Hello one and all and thanks for welcoming this – another edition of the Leaders Digest – into your inbox. We put this sports industry missive together once a fortnight and it’s designed to give you a pretty handy helicopter view on what’s happening, where and why across the global business of sport. If you’re not subscribed and you’d like to be sign up here.

3  Questions, Answered

1.)    Am I really going to have to understand what an NFT is?

I’m afraid so. Following the success of the NBA’s Top Shot launch, NFL player Rob Gronkowski has raised more than $1.2 million through the sale of his own range of collectible digital clips. It won’t be long before any Tom, Dick or Harry is chancing his arm in the non-fungible token market.


2.)    Ever wanted to know precisely how little you’re contributing to a WhatsApp group?

Want no more. ‘Personal insights engine’ sounds terrifying, but looks strangely compelling.


3.)    Are combined national domestic football leagues about to happen?

If the Belgians have their way, then it certainly looks as though the top flights of Belgium and the Netherlands could merge at the end of the current five-year rights cycle.


Get me on the guestlist

–    You’re still very much invited to join us for the next iteration of our all-singing, all-dancing live show – Leaders Week Direct/Abu Dhabi – which kicked off on Tuesday 16 March. All the content will be neatly laid out on the platform until 24 March too.


Tying the threads together


The Digest, Digested

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

Paris 2024 appoint sports marketing agencies to aid sponsorship programme (2 mins)

Sportswear tycoon Li Ning seeking $250m for sports SPAC (2 mins)

Dodgers co-owner Boehly sponsoring new sports real estate SPAC (2 mins)

Elevate SV, Premier Partnerships names US hospitality agents for Qatar 2022 (2 mins)

Elevate acquires ticket data firm DPP (1 min)

Altman Solon podcasting report – investment flowing (3 mins)

Sportradar going public in SPAC deal worth $10 billion (1 min)

Podcast – One Careful Owner: Marc Lasry (44 mins)

Inside ESPN’s media rights deal with the NHL (2 mins)

What is community anyway? (8 mins)


What’s new

–    Help! – Organisers of the Paris 2024 Olympics have enlisted an unprecedented amount of agency assistance as they look to build out their sponsorship programme, bringing in no fewer than eight sports marketing agencies.


What’s trending?

–   Still SPACs – Chinese Olympian-turned-entrepreneur Li Ning wants in, so too does LA Dodgers co-owner and new Sportradar investor Todd Boehly, again

–   Elevate signing deals – A Qatar 2022 hospitality sales mandate and a ticketing data firm acquisition within the space of a week.

–   Therabody – a flurry of top-tier sports sponsorship deals for the wellness tech firm, which has added Arsenal, AC Milan and Red Bull Racing to its portfolio in rapid fire style this week.



If it feels like there’s been an increasing amount of money being invested in podcast businesses, that’s because there has been. The market is liquid. Our friends at global strategy consulting firm Altman Solon have been scrutinising it recently, and they’ve charted some of the major transactions in the space over the past two years above, and added much deeper context and analysis in their latest podcasting report.




–    Martin Stevenson has been appointed as the next CEO of Racecourse Media Group, replacing Richard FitzGerald in the role.

–    Ravi Kumar is replacing outgoing Asian Football Confederation communications chief Colin Gibson on an interim basis.

–    Former New York Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum has been brought in as senior advisor to Bruin Sports Capital.

–    James Woodroof has been promoted to the role of Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Crystal Palace.

–    Chandresh Patel has left his position as Director of International Media Business Development at the NFL for a new role as COO of sports podcasts network Blue Wire.

–    Max Van Den Doel has joined AS Roma as the Serie A club’s new CMO, leaving Adidas after 16 years in various sports marketing and leadership roles.

–    Karl Budge has left his position as tournament director of the ASB Classic tennis tournament in Auckland for a role as New Zealand Event and Commercial Director at SailGP.


–    Are you Madison Square Garden’s new VP, Events Presentation?
–    Are you ByteDance’s new Senior Strategic Partnerships Manager in Brazil, or in Mexico


How do you manage?

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

Emily Caroe is Founder and Director of integrated, creative sport and purpose PR agency Mallory Group. She lives in Surrey with her three teenage children.

How are you feeling now on a scale of 1-10?
Today is definitely an 8. I’ve been as low as a 2 over this past year, and particularly recently: this current lockdown has felt never-ending at times. My mother died of Covid-19 in April of last year, so have had to live this pandemic in a very personal way – the statistics we see each day directly relate to me and my family. And that can be tough at times.

Who was the last person you spoke to before me?
Alicia Glenn – our account executive. She joined the business the day that London went into lockdown. She arrived as an intern at 2pm and left at 5pm with the office plants. She tells me they are still alive …

Are you working from home or the office?
I’m working solely from home. For a while last year colleagues were working from here as well, but that all stopped once again late last year. I’m looking forward to getting back in the office a few days a week – it’s important to come together as a team.

Where do you work? What’s the environment like?
I am very lucky in that I have a home office with a big window that looks out over the front of my house, so I can see trees, hear the birds, enjoy the weather, even when stuck inside. It also means I can keep an eye on the deliveries as they seem to be coming thick and fast these days – no more having to go and collect a parcel on the weekend.

Who do you share your ‘home office’ with? 
I’m a single parent of three teenagers but luckily they all have space in their rooms to work, or they move to the kitchen table. So when colleagues aren’t here, I share my study with my Peloton bike. I bought it on a whim in December 2019 and it’s been a godsend. I’ve met a great (virtual) community of women I regularly join in 8-week long challenges and having it here gives me no excuses not to exercise.

How do you run a meeting?
I try to come into each creative meeting with ‘What does success look like?’ as the first thing we look at. If we don’t do this, then it is easy to get distracted and lack focus.

I have read quite a bit recently about people turning off their cameras on conference calls having got ‘Zoom fatigue’, but actually I really like seeing people’s faces and their reactions. But I should give it a try – perhaps we’d all focus more if we had to ‘just’ listen.

What does your daily routine look like? How do you run your job and your life?
We have a full team meeting at 0930 every morning. I always like to hear a ‘win’ or two from the previous day, rather than just looking through the to-do list for the day. We also might just talk about something in the news that is on our minds. This week we all shared about what a week it has been for women. IWD on Monday, the Meghan/Harry interview, the terrible news of the murder of Sarah Everard. We feel vulnerable and I think it is really important to talk it out. We were also discussing just this morning about the Palace’s comms responses to the H&M interview and what we would do, from a professional POV. One of my colleagues said that she would love the challenge of transforming the Palace’s comms – I wished her all the best in that ….!

I then try to do my ‘quiet’ work in the morning: strategy papers, press releases, journalist pitches, creative work etc as the afternoons are often full of back-to-back calls. We work for an offshore sailing team based in Rhode Island and they are five hours behind – so from 2pm the calls kick in, often back to back to back until 7pm. It can be exhausting.

Early mornings or late nights?
Both. Depends on the deadline. But I often go back to my desk when the kids are in bed and prepare for the next day. Write my new list, review what I have done, and clear out my inboxes ready to go again.

How do you focus? 
Sometimes with difficulty if I am feeling overwhelmed or don’t have a list to focus my mind. If my inbox has exploded and I don’t know exactly what I need to accomplish then I can find myself floundering. I run multiple lists – online, in my work book and also on a fresh, small piece of paper, I write each evening what I must do the next day and it sits right in front of me as a constant reminder. I also have post-it notes to jot down the quick thoughts and stick them all over my screen. Ripping them off when completed and recycling them gives me a great boost.

How do you cope with stress?
I find stress beneficial sometimes – it really drives me on and keeps me focused. I have a good therapist who helps me to be kind to myself – I can be quite punishing as I put very high expectations on me.. Exercise also really helps me creatively.

How do you unwind?
Cooking with the kids is a great one. They stand like flamingos in the kitchen, on one leg, on their phones, but at least they are around. I love hearing their chat (which is mainly focused around the quality of the toilet facilities at their school …. does anyone else have this?).

Who are you speaking to next?
Sam Mallinson, the Head of Communications at E1 Series. A new client with a really different method of working (in a positive way). I have never worked with a client who is so collaborative in his approach. That’s not saying our other clients aren’t collaborative, as they are and we are treated as an extension of their inhouse teams, but he comes at it from a totally different 90-degree perspective which is great and it’s keeping me on my toes.

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



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.

Sportradar flashing dollar signs
Data giant Sportradar is about to cement its status through a huge $10 billion valuation as it gets taken public through a SPAC.

Bucks and sense
Bucks co-owner and renowned New York hedgefunder Marc Lasry is the first guest on Leaders Chair Jimmy Worrall’s new One Careful Owner podcast. In it, he explains why there’s no such thing as a ‘hands-off’ sports owner.

SBJ’s peerless John Ourand gets himself right inside the new blockbuster, $2.8 billion NHL-ESPN rights deal and explains exactly what he saw there.


Longer read

–      We’ve been thinking a lot about community lately – what it means for our own organization and for the wider sports industry. This pontification on the subject as it pertains to the fitness industry – via the excellent Fitt Insider newsletter – is worth reading.

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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