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iSportconnect Directors Club Panel Debate Changing Face of Sports Industry

iSportconnect, the online sports networking community, last night (3rd October) hosted an impressive panel of high-profile executives at the iSportconnect Directors’ Club London.The event, in closed room Question Time format, delved into topics ranging from the role of social media in activating sport sponsorship, to the influence of technology in how we consume sport content. The event, in partnership with Generate Sponsorship and Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, was hailed a huge success, with the esteemed sports business executives including Geoff Cousins, Jaguar Global Director, Sponsorships and Brand Partners; Philip Beard, Chief Executive Officer, Queens Park Rangers Football Club; Roger Draper, Chief Executive of the Lawn Tennis Association and Barry Hearn, Chairman of Matchroom Sport, the Professional Darts Corporation, World Snooker and Leyton Orient Football Club.

The role of social media was debated at length as the speakers, representing both rights holders and brands, shared their views. The general consensus was that social media, particularly twitter, is breaking down the traditional models and gives brands a level of targeting and evaluation that other platforms do not currently provide. The ability to instantly activate a sponsorship through social media was agreed with an on-going requirement to monitor how sport talent use the various platforms being crucial.

Barry Hearn commented: “The biggest education is we need to listen to more young people, we need to get more creative, we need to realise our own shortcomings and be prepared to learn.”

The debate turned to the changes in how people are consuming and engaging sport content and how the rise of Smart TVs and multi-platform viewing will revolutionise the sports industry. The panel agreed that content remains king.

Philip Beard shared his insight: “I maintain that the most important thing is to keep live events attractive enough for us to go to and then we can watch it on platforms as well.”

In addition, the attraction of short-form sports for younger audiences was discussed with the success of Rugby 7s, Power Snooker and Twenty20 cricket highlighted as good examples of extending and broadening the appeal to youth, while also encouraging participation.

Andrew Shelley, Chief Executive at World Squash Federation said: “Nobody doubt the importance of listening and learning from those at the forefront of the sports business. Combine that with the opportunity to link with others in the field and it is quite a heady mix. The iSportconnect Directors Club provides exactly that!”

Barry Webber, Commercial Director at West Ham United, added: “I would like to thank the iSportconnect team for a truly enjoyable evening.  A networking event that brought together a great mix of individuals all of whom have a proven track record in the sports business.  The format (Chatham House rule) allowed a frank exchange of views, new ideas and opinions which allowed the panel to escape from the standard scripted response.  I’m Looking forward to the next event.”

Founder and CEO of iSportconnect Sree Varma, said: “The second iSportconnect Directors Club was the best yet, with an excellent panel, high profile delegates and engaging debate. We are delighted to hear the positive feedback from the attendees and believe the unique Question Time-style format is ideal for getting the best out of our speakers and ensuring an engaging session for the audience. We look forward to welcoming the sports industry to future iSportconnect events.”

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50 invitation-only attendees include:
Andrew Shelley – CEO, World Squash Federation
Jane Purdon – Director of Governance, English Premier League
Rupert Daniels – Partnership Development Director, Arsenal FC
Paul Barber – CEO, Brighton FC
David Harker – CEO, Durham Cricket Board
Keith Harris – Chairman, Seymour Pierce
Weronika Abramowicz – Head of Sponsorship, Fulham FC
Barry Webber – Commercial Director, West Ham FC
Sophie Morris – Head of Marketing, Killik
Roger Devlin – Non Exec Director, The FA
Mark Blundell – Former F1 driver
Keith Wyness – Former CEO, Everton FC & Aberdeen FC
Nick Blofeld – CEO, Bath Rugby
Zoe Ward Club – Secretary, Liverpool Football Club
Tracey Keenan – Head of Global Partnerships, Tottenham Hotspur
Giancarlo Bernini – Head of Sponsorship, Sony Mobile Communications
Michael Cole – Head of Marketing and Communications, London 2012, BT Global Services
Paul Vaughan – Former CEO, England Rugby 2015
Colin Povey – CEO, Warwickshire County Cricket Club
Andrew Hooks – Head of Sponsorship Ebay

Follow the iSportconnect Directors’ Club event with @iSportconnect and through #iSCDirectorsClub.

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