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JUAN AÍSA is the CEO of You First Sports, a Madrid-based global athlete representation and sports marketing firm that represents 520 coaches and athletes. Aísa, a former pro basketball player who played in Spain and France during the '90s, helped found You First in '02. In addition to the services the company provides as an agency -- its clients include 35 NBA players through associate ASM sports/Andy Miller -- You First also provides marketing consulting by employing what Aísa called a "different model," providing clients advice without owning properties.
On the inspiration for creating You First ...
Juan Aísa: In 2002, we realized that the services being provided to professional athletes outside of the USA were not good enough and the organizations providing them did not follow high standards of quality and professionalism. There were needs on the side of the players and clear ways to improve the response to such demands. We decided to jump into the market guided by three strong principles: hire the best talent to work for us; provide an excellent level of service; and develop a global structure to be able to serve our clients in any part of the world. Twelve years later, and we are proud to say that we correctly identified the opportunity and that we have executed according to our plans. We are present in 10 countries, represent more than 500 athletes, have an excellent team of 114 employees, and provide marketing consulting services to more than 100 companies. We have strong relationships with organizations such as the NBA, Euroleague Basketball and some of the top soccer leagues in the world.
On the regions You First considers priorities for expansion ...
Aísa: Our priorities are to consolidate our basketball business and to keep growing in our soccer and marketing services business lines. We have extended our footprint in Europe in the last few years (openings in Italy, France, Turkey, Lithuania and new openings coming soon). We see strong growth potential through our operations in China and in the Americas and we will focus on those markets in the near future. Once we establish the geographical priorities, we place great emphasis on finding the right people to make our business grow. We are a service company and we differentiate by being very close to our clients, which enables us to understand their goals, values, and core objectives. Finding people who can do precisely that, who can be responsible, knowledgeable, team oriented and who can share our strong culture has been and will be the key to our success. We devote many of our resources to accomplish this.
On expanding the business into the marketing sector ...
Aísa: Despite the continuous growth and development of the international sports markets, many companies are still trying to find the right way to utilize sports as a means to communicate, to reach their potential customers and to ultimately increase sales and brand awareness. That's where we come in. We make sure to understand the company's goals and we understand how they can reach them through sports. We also realized that many agencies which were providing consulting services were, at the same time, acquiring rights, which could raise doubts about their independence. We've built a different model. We don't own properties and our advice to companies is driven solely by their needs.
On social media's impact on the industry ...
Aísa: We’ve tried to anticipate the demands of our clients and identify improvements in our services driven by new technologies and new communication platforms. We help our athletes to shape their image and reach new audiences through social media. If it’s done in the right way it is an asset for their teams and sponsors but also an asset for themselves, enhancing their influence and legacy. As for the marketing services, the new platforms have evolved from being a new opportunity for our clients to being an indispensable tool. A creative and efficient use of the social media in the activation of their sponsorship investments is now a fundamental step of our service.
Hangin' With is a weekly feature that runs Fridays in SBD Global.
ManU and NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers Owner MALCOLM GLAZER, who died aged 85 on Wednesday, "enjoyed sporting success as an owner on both sides of the Atlantic but will be remembered very differently in Tampa Bay and Manchester," according to Nick Mulvenney of REUTERS. In Florida, "he was the man who shelled out" a then record $192M in '95 to buy one of the NFL's least successful franchises and turned them into Super Bowl winners eight years later. Under his ownership, ManU "enjoyed much more success," but the manner of his '05 takeover "made him a divisive figure at a club he never visited." The Buccaneers "led a outpouring of tributes from around the NFL" for a man they described as "a pioneering thinker." ManU "later responded to the news with their own statement. " It "is unlikely, however, that Glazer will be mourned by many fans of one of the best known and supported clubs in the world." A vocal group of ManU fans, whose motto is "Love United, Hate Glazer," has "never forgiven the family for loading the club with debt" in a £790M pound takeover in '05 (REUTERS, 5/29).
FAMILY MATTERS: In London, Mark Ogden reported while the death of Glazer "will have no immediate effect" on ManU's day-to-day affairs, the long-term implications "may only become clear through the actions of the three unknown Glazers on the Old Trafford board." KEVIN and EDWARD GLAZER, and their sister, DARCIE GLAZER KASSEWITZ, "are the low-profile members of the family, but they own the same stake in United" as the club's co-Chairs JOEL and AVRAM GLAZER and Dir BRYAN GLAZER. Joel, Avram and Bryan "are regular visitors to Old Trafford for first-team fixtures, but while Kevin is known to have attended at least one United game, Edward and Darcie have shown less inclination to make the trip from Florida to Manchester during the family's nine-year reign as the club's owners" (TELEGRAPH, 5/28).
LARGE SHADOW: The BBC wrote for someone who "never actually set foot inside Old Trafford," Glazer "casts an extraordinarily large shadow" over ManU. Glazer's stewardship "split the United fan base." Some "were ambivalent, preferring to concentrate on matters on the field." The majority "were vehemently opposed." There were plenty -- including, DAVID BECKHAM -- "who maintained their association with United but made their feelings plain by wearing the green and gold colours of the club's first ever strip, which protestors adopted as their uniform of choice" (BBC, 5/29). In London, Lewis Smith reported even after a decade of continued success, however, many ManU fans "accused him of using the club’s money-making capacity to finance other debts rather than using it to invest in transfers and the club’s future." The club "was debt-free when he bought it but now has debts" amounting to £400M ($668M). He "borrowed to finance the purchase and then used the profits to pay off interest" (INDEPENDENT, 5/28).
NOT A FAN: In London, Jim White wrote "To paraphrase" JOHN F. KENNEDY, when he took over the club, Glazer "was not interested in what he might do for Manchester United." He "was solely motivated by what Manchester United might do for him." Glazer "had no concern about being a custodian of the club’s history, tradition and cultural standing." He "was not a fan." What attracted him to the most profitable football business in England "was straightforward: he was in it for the money." Glazer "had many charitable interests at home in Florida." He "was also a family man, and his passing will be mourned." But "he was an owner who should never have been allowed into English football" (TELEGRAPH, 5/29). In London, David Anderson wrote "judging by all the noises coming out of Old Trafford, nothing will alter in the running of Manchester United." Although some ManU fans "will not mourn Glazer's passing, he was shrewd enough to follow one important business maxim -- if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Unlike some foreign owners, who "try to pick the team for their managers or drag them half way round the world for meetings, Glazer took a back seat completely and never interfered." The Glazers "are far from being absentee landlords." Although Glazer's shadow "never darkened the door at Old Trafford, Joel, Avram and their brother Bryan are regular visitors" (DAILY MIRROR, 5/29).
La Liga side Málaga "is expected to sign" JAVI GRACIA as its new coach on a two-year contract. The club's intention is to "officially present him as its coach before Tuesday, and if possible, to do so on Friday." Gracia spent the past season coaching La Liga side Osasuna, which was relegated to the Spanish second division for next season (MARCA, 5/29). ... La Liga side Levante has reached an agreement for JOSÉ LUIS MENDILIBAR to coach the club next season. The "contract covers the '14-15 season and includes the option to extend it through the following season" (SUPERDEPORTE, 5/29). ... Bayern Munich has appointed former player and coach FRANZ BECKENBAUER as its new int'l ambassador. Bayern Exec Chair KARL-HEINZ RUMMENIGGE said, "Franz is the most popular figure that Bayern Munch has ever had. He is very highly regarded in the world of football. I'm very happy that he supports us in this way." The club, which opened an office in N.Y. on April 1, "will play a U.S. tour from June 30-Aug. 6." Beckenbauer "will join the team on the tour." He said, "It should have been done 10 years ago, just like other nations did. It's about time! Let's do it! I'm glad that I can help" (BILD, 5/28). ... Lagardère Unlimited, the sports and entertainment division of media group Lagardère, has named ARNAUD LAGARDÈRE as chairman and CEO. SEAMUS O'BRIEN, ANDREW GEORGIOU, ANDY PIERCE and LAURENT CAROZZIA will oversee the business on a day-to-day basis as well as manage the transition to a globally integrated organization. O'Brien will serve as the deputy chairman of the exec committee. Georgiou will serve as Lagardère Unlimited COO (Lagardère). ... National Rugby League Parramatta Eels Dir MARIO LIBERTINI resigned from the board of the Parramatta Leagues Club on Thursday night. The exit of Libertini "came on the eve of Friday’s PLC board meeting, which will discuss the club’s fresh internal investigation into tampering of memberships as well as this month’s farcical annual general meeting." A Parramatta statement said that Libertini "had advised directors of an intention to resign at the end of last month" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 5/29). ... BRENT IMPEY "has been appointed" the New Zealand Rugby Union chairman "following the recent retirement" of MIKE EAGLE. Impey, a former businessman, broadcaster and independent NZRU board member, "was elected to the role was chief executive of MediaWorks" from '00-09 and a former radio broadcaster. He "has also been" chair and exec director of the Fred Hollows Foundation (STUFF, 5/29).
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France's FRANCK MONTAGNY has been named the first of two drivers for Andretti Autosport's Formula E team. The relationship between MICHAEL ANDRETTI and Montagny dates back to '08 when Montagny competed in the ALMS series with Andretti Autosport (Andretti Formula E). ... The Int'l Cycling Union "is investigating claims" by defending champion CHRIS FROOME "that he has not been drug-tested at a Tour de France training camp." The Briton, 29, "also claimed there had been no tests" for leading riders ALBERTO CONTADOR and VINCENZO NIBALI (BBC, 5/29). ... England Cricketer STUART BROAD "is to be reminded of his responsibilities on social media following a complaint" by the Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistan spinner SAEED AJMAL. Broad "incurred the anger of Ajmal and the Pakistan board after making comments on Twitter that could have been perceived as questioning the legality of the bowler’s action" (PAKISTAN TODAY, 5/28). ... For a second straight year, Israeli Premier League club Maccabi Tel Aviv "has lost its coach just a few weeks after winning the Premier League championship." PAULO SOUSA announced on Wednesday that "he is leaving the club to join Swiss side FC Basel as its head coach." After guiding Maccabi to its first Premier League championship in 10 years last season, Spanish coach OSCAR GARCIA "left after a single year due to personal reasons before eventually signing with English Championship side Brighton." Sousa "signed a two-year contract" (JERUSALEM POST, 5/28). ... Indian Premier League Chennai Super Kings captain MAHENDRA SINGH DHONI and Kings XI Punjab's GLENN MAXWELL "have been the most searched 'Man of the Match' players in this season's" IPL. This season's Google Search Trend analysis revealed that besides Dhoni and Maxwell, the other most searched players were YUVRAIJ SINGH, AB DE VILLIERS, GAUTAM GAMBHIR, ROHIT SHARMA, DALE STEYN, ROBIN UTHAPPA, RAVINDER JADEJA and YUSUF PATHAN (HINDUSTAN TIMES, 5/28).
WORLD CUP PROPHECY: Physicist STEPHEN HAWKING "was hired by a betting company to break down data from every World Cup that England has played in since winning the title in 1966." His conclusion? To have its best chance of winning in Brazil, England "must avoid high temperatures, adopt an aggressive 4-3-3 formation and wear red." But, Hawking noted, that it is "only a theory." He is backing the host to win the tournament, saying, "You would be a fool to overlook Brazil" (MCT, 5/29).
NBC's WILL BUXTON: "Only in England could we make a TV programme in which we determine the lineup for an imaginary all time crappest football team. Brilliant."
AP's ROB HARRIS: "Man United debt is currently £351.7m. JP Morgan predicts it will drop to £265m by next year"
ManU's ROBIN VAN PERSIE: "My condolences go out to the Glazer family and friends."
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