Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry
U.S. Soccer Head to Step Down in October After Two-Year Tenure
The U.S. Soccer Federation’s CEO and secretary general Will Wilson will leave his position on Oct. 31, 2022, to pursue new professional ventures and opportunities. U.S. Soccer’s board will immediately begin a nationwide search for Wilson’s successor, and he will remain in his current role during the transition. As CEO, Wilson led the effort to achieve equal pay for its senior men’s and women’s national teams. He also helped steer U.S. Soccer through the early disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, secured a record-setting 10-year renewal with apparel partner NIKE and closed an eight-year English-language broadcast and digital media deal with Warner Media that commences in 2023. He oversaw the federation’s strategic decision to bring its commercial rights in-house beginning in 2023. U.S. Soccer’s board of directors intends to retain a leading executive search firm with relevant experience in sports administration and related fields to assist in its search for Wilson’s successor.
Dazn Adds Chief Marketing Officer
DAZN Group, a sports entertainment company, has added to its leadership team by naming Pete Oliver as chief marketing officer. In that role, Oliver will lead the group’s marketing teams and distribution partnerships. He’s coming from BT, where he spent the past 20 years launching, marketing and distributing BT’s consumer services. He spent seven of those years leading multi-discipline teams across marketing, product, commercial, partnerships and digital for BT Sport, BT Fibre and EE.
FUBOTV Announces Executive Appointments
Sports-first live TV streaming platform FuboTV has brought on three executives to bolster its strategic partnerships, content strategy and business development operations. Ben Grad has been named senior vice president, head of strategic partnerships and operations. Todd Mathers has been named senior vice president, content strategy and acquisition. And Andrew Steinberg has joined FuboTV as vice president, business development. Grad, who’s been with Fubo since 2017, will develop and lead external partnerships and internal cross-functional initiatives, covering both the streaming and online wagering segments. Verizon/FIOS veteran Mathers will oversee content strategy, acquisition and licensing with the aim of expanding the portfolio of sports, news and entertainment programming. Steinberg arrives from Goldin and will manage and grow distribution of FuboTV’s networks and create new business opportunities with current platform partners such as Amazon Fire, Apple, Google, Roku and Samsung TV. All appointments are effective immediately.
Betting Exchange Bolsters Team Ahead of Launch
Following its market access agreement with Caesars Entertainment in 2021, Prophet Exchange is on track to launch its peer-to-peer sports betting exchange, which gives users the ability to name their own price in New Jersey this summer. In advance of its arrival, the company has hired Matt Stolarz as director of technical product, Zhifeng Shi as director of software engineering, and Casey Halpern as director of social media and content. Stolarz is a former senior software engineer at Caesars Entertainment while Zhifeng comes from Compass, where his team designed and built a transaction management platform. Halpern was most recently at Action Network, where he managed and oversaw their social media channels.
777 Partners Names CEO of Football Group
777 Partners has named Don Dransfield as CEO of its football group. In this newly created role, Dransfield will oversee the commercial and football operations for 777 Partners’ portfolio football clubs as well as non-club-related football businesses, while spearheading continued growth for the Group. The network of clubs include Genoa C.F.C. in Italy, SA Standard de Liege in Belgium and Red Star FC in France, as well as a significant minority stake in Sevilla FC in Spain. 777 Partners is currently in exclusive negotiations to acquire a 70% stake in Vasco da Gama in Brazil. 777 is based in Miami, but Dransfield, based in London, brings nearly 20 years of experience in sports management, media and private equity, most recently as chief strategy officer at City Football Group. Dransfield will officially join 777 Partners later this summer.
Buzzer Tabs New Chief Business Officer
Andrew Barge has joined Buzzer, the mobile platform for short-form live sports, as chief business officer. In his role, Barge will oversee Buzzer’s business development and commercial strategy, including the management of new and existing partnerships and strategic revenue opportunities. Barge will serve on the senior leadership team and will work directly with the CEO and CPO on strategic planning and execution of Buzzer’s suite of fan-centric live sports products that complement the existing business models of all industry players. Barge joins Buzzer after eight years at Twitter, working in the company’s Global Content Partnerships organization in various capacities
Renowned UConn Coach Joins Track160
Performance analytics and automated video highlights platform Track160 has appointed former UConn men’s soccer coach Ray Reid as senior strategic advisor. Reid will focus on strengthening the company’s presence in the U.S., acting as the company’s brand ambassador in helping to elevate U.S. soccer through the adoption of FIFA-certified technologies previously only affordable by elite clubs. After 33 seasons as a head coach for the University of Connecticut and Southern Connecticut State University, Reid announced his retirement in 2021. Recognized as Coach of the Year four times by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, Reid coached his teams to several championships, including the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship in 2000 and three Division II Championships (’90, ’92 and ’95). Reid’s announcement comes as Track160 recently expanded its offering of performance analytics video experiences used by European pro leagues to youth clubs and academies in the US.
Altius Sports Partners Adds College Leader
NIL launch platform and consultancy Altius Sports Partners has added Brittney Whiteside as vice president of collegiate partnerships. Whiteside will help develop and execute strategies aimed at supporting Altius’ school partners in the ever-changing NIL environment. She’ll also help strengthen Altius’s current school partner relationships through supporting established Altius NIL programs while also developing and delivering opportunities for continued engagement. Additionally, she will focus on programs serving the needs of the broad and diverse scope of athletics programs. Whiteside has been involved in college athletics administration for more than a decade, including the last three with Virginia, serving as deputy athletics director and senior woman administrator.
Canadian Hoops League Partners With Fanaply to Launch NFTs
Canadian Elite Basketball League will release a series of NFTs throughout the 2022 CEBL season in partnership with Fanaply, an NFT solutions provider. This partnership marks the first time any professional Canadian sports league has entered the NFT space. The league’s 2022 NFT season initiative will offer cost-accessible NFT drops for fans throughout the season to engage and reward everyone from the newest to the most passionate fans. The first NFT arrived on May 30 and featured limited-edition collectible tokens for each of the league’s 10 teams. Future offerings will in-game rewards, collectibles commemorating notable moments and limited-edition championship tokens.
Premier Lacrosse League Announces Partnership With Cash App
The Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) powered by Ticketmaster has named Cash App the official cryptocurrency exchange, peer to peer payment technology, and investment/trading platform of the PLL. As part of the partnership, players will have the option to get paid in bitcoin by automatically investing a portion of their PLL paychecks into bitcoin through Cash App. Players have the ability to instantly turn on, off, and adjust at any time. Cash App will be the presenting partner of Goals for Greatness, a 501(c)(3) organization created by PLL co-founder and president Paul Rabil. With the help of Cash App, Goals for Greatness is committed to resourcing lacrosse goals in all 50 states every year. “Our mission is to trailblaze the future of professional sports, and we believe that Cash App is one of the most innovative businesses and marketing brands in the world,” said Rabil.