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Volume 6 No. 216

International Football

The English Football League Chief Commercial Officer Richard Heaselgrave is determined that it "should be more proactive in bringing big-name brands to the fans," according to Alex Brownsell of MARKETING MAGAZINE. In an attempt to "bolster its brand and revenue streams," The Football League has recruited Heaselgrave, a former NBA exec, as CCO. It has high hopes that Heaselgrave's "innovative approach will lift the perception of its product among fans and brands alike." Heaselgrave was "one of the individuals hired to grow" the NBA outside the U.S., while Rugby Football Union CCO Sophie Goldschmidt was another. Heaselgrave admits that reinventing The Football League, which consists of three divisions -- The Championship, League One and League Two -- "may well be his greatest challenge." Heaselgrave: "We're the oldest sports league in the world. That's an amazing thing, and the board have finally realised we've a lot to shout about. We attract millions of fans to games every year, so commercially it's time to push on." The statistics "are certainly impressive." Nearly 17 million people attended The Football League games last season, while its network of websites attracted more than 8 million unique visits. Heaselgrave also "gushes about the marketing potential" of the "£90M ($145M) match," the Championship playoff final for promotion to the Premier League. The match is "widely considered to be the most financially rewarding encounter in world sport." Yet, while The Football League annual revenues have topped £100M ($161M) for some time, this is dwarfed by the scale of the Premier League's £1B- ($1.6B)-a-year domestic TV rights deal. If The Football League wants to keep pace with its offspring, Heaselgrave "must package the League as a viable alternative for brands looking specifically at the U.K. market -- something he is confident he can do." Heaselgrave: "There are limitless opportunities to talk to our fans as a brand. People pay money to see our games in every corner of the country -- which brand wouldn't want to talk to those people? Our clubs attract women, kids, men aged 18-25. We can say to marketers: 'Who is your audience, where are they, and what do you want to communicate to them?' and then provide a solution" (, 9/27).