SBJ/January 24 - 30, 2005/This Weeks Issue

Soccer tour promoter files for Chapter 11

ChampionsWorld, the New Jersey-based company that for the last two summers has organized, run and promoted the American tour featuring soccer giant Manchester United, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Stillitano
Charlie Stillitano, CEO of ChampionsWorld, said the company lost about $3 million last year despite increasing the overall revenue of the tour from about $20 million in 2003 to $25 million in 2004.

“The debt became pretty significant, and we are not going to have games until this summer,” he said.

Plans include a tour of national teams in May and June, with the ChampionsWorld Series set to take place for the third year starting in July.

Stillitano said the 2004 tour itself broke even but investments in ancillary programs, such as camps and clinics, didn’t pay off. That is not to say that the tour was flawless in year two, he added.

“Maybe we were a little bit overconfident in some of the ticket sales potential in some of these markets,” he said.

The average turnout for the tour dropped from 52,821 over eight games in 2003 to 39,811 over 11 games.

Looking ahead, Stillitano said the company will make changes to the tour and the company itself when it emerges from bankruptcy protection. In addition to going to a tournament-style format for the tour, Champions-World will look to add investors and expand the sponsorship base that last year was limited to MasterCard and Budweiser.

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