SBJ/March 11-17, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Spotlight: Bruce Bundrant, commercial director, AS Monaco FC

Career in sales for soccer teams leads to sunny Monaco

   
Bundrant is commercial director for AS Monaco FC, in France’s second division.
Photo by: AS Monaco FC
After five seasons with Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, Bruce Bundrant in November joined AS Monaco FC of the second-division French soccer league Ligue 2 as commercial director.
    Born and raised in Abilene, Texas, the 40-year-old Bundrant got his start in soccer with D.C. United. He progressed over his four years with the MLS club from intern to head of the sponsorship department. He moved on to Liverpool after a stint with GMR Marketing in San Francisco.
    Now, with AS Monaco FC in first place in Ligue 2 more than halfway through the season, promotion to Ligue 1 is very possible. The team is owned by Dmitry Rybolovlev, a 46-year-old Russian mining/fertilizer magnate with an estimated worth of $9 billion. Rybolovlev purchased the club in December 2011 and immediately began buying more accomplished players to help it climb in the standings.
    Bundrant spoke recently by phone with soccer reporter Christopher Botta, from his office in Stade Louis II.


Have you learned French yet?
I’m getting there, very quickly. I take two 90-minute classes each week with the teacher who instructs the youth players at our football academy. A big part of it is immersing myself in the language. At many of the business meetings I’m in, only French is spoken. Social situations — going to dinner, watching matches, watching films — help a lot. Perfect command of French isn’t completely required because so much of my business is international and English is spoken the most, but it is crucial for me to fit in as quickly as I can

Being in the second division this season, what are your biggest business challenges?
As commercial director, my goal is to increase all commercial revenue, whether it be ticketing, hospitality, sponsorship, merchandise and licensing — everything that generates revenue except player transactions. Ticket sales have historically been a challenge in Monaco because the town has a population of just over 36,000. Only 6,000 are locals; the other 30,000 come from other countries.

Where do you expect to succeed?
A sweet spot for us should be sponsorship. Brands want to align themselves with the attributes of Monaco: elegance and luxury and glamour and sunshine and fun. I believe we can attract luxury brands.

Did you take the job at AS Monaco with the expectation the club would be promoted to Ligue 1 in the near future?
There’s always the risk when you take a job with an organization and the team is in rebuilding mode, but I met with Mr. Rybolovlev during the interview process, and he told me about his vision for the club. I took his word that he was going to do everything he could to get us to Ligue 1.

What is the professional and cultural environment like for you in Monaco (nestled off the southeast corner of France)?
The winter in the southeast of France is obviously much nicer than the winters I spent in Liverpool, but the really great thing about Monaco is the opportunities you’re presented with. You can go out to a restaurant or a club and the people you meet are CEOs of businesses and celebrities. In a very small community, there are captains of industry everywhere. When I go to networking events, I always come out of them thinking, “I can’t believe I just met those people.” From a business perspective, this is one of the best places on the planet.

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