The Transfer Window: Eleven Sports, Brian Barwick and RMG

Each week, InsiderSport is rounding up the signings and departures from the business of sport. This edition breaks down a major departure from English Rugby, as well as a key appointment for OTT broadcaster, Eleven Sports.

Barwick to depart RFL

Brian Barwick has confirmed he will stand down as the Chairman of the Rugby Football League chairman in July.

Barwick will become the President of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, having served two three year terms at the RFL.

Barwick stated: “With over four decades in and around top-class sport behind me‎, I feel it is time now to scale back on some of my wide range of activities.

“I have played a central part in the governance changes and re-structuring of the game that has taken place over the past 18 months and at times it proved very challenging – and so it should have.

“However, I was determined to stay in my current role until a satisfactory conclusion was reached – which is now imminent.”

Collard to lead Eleven in Belgium and Luxembourg

Eleven Sports has appointed Guillaume Collard as the Managing Director of its thriving operations in Belgium and Luxembourg.

Collard has been with Eleven Sports since 2016 and takes over from Anouk Mertens who was appointed as COO of the Eleven Sports Group in November.

Collard was previously Head of Business Development for Eleven Sports in Belgium and Luxembourg, playing an integral role in the success of the business by achieving commercial agreements with distributors, sponsors and partners while also securing the key sports rights.

He later combined this role with the position of Head of Acquisitions for the Eleven Sports Group, which he will continue going forward.

Eleven Sports Group COO, Anouk Mertens, reacted to the appointment: “Having worked with Guillaume in our Belgian team for almost three years, I am confident our business is in very capable hands. This will be a seamless transition and I look forward to continuing our close working relationship.

“Guillaume has excellent knowledge of the local business and the market dynamics. As part of our team he has helped to establish Eleven Sports as a leading sports provider in the market.”

Collard added: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to continue the great work done with Anouk and the team to create a very successful business in Belgium and Luxembourg.

“We have a first-class team that is eager to keep improving and innovating our offer for fans all over the country. I am looking forward to working together to ensure we reinforce and grow our strong market position.”

Racecourse Media Group strengthens senior team

UK Racing media rights holding firm Racecourse Media Group (RMG) has strengthened its directorial board with the appointment of Jim Mullen and Britt Boeskov as independent non-executive directors.

Mullen joins RMG having held various positions in the gambling sector, specifically at Ladbrokes Coral Group and Ladbrokes. Mullen was Managing Director of Ladbrokes Digital and Chief Operating Officer of International Business at William Hill.

Boeskov, meanwhile, has worked in the industry for over 15 years, with executive and managerial experience at Kindred Group. She joins RMG after working as the Chief Experience Officer at Kindred, having previously held the position of Chief Operating Officer and Business Development Manager.

Roger Lewis, Chairman of RMG commented on the new appointments: “These new appointments will enhance the RMG Board’s desire to work closer with the betting and gaming industry. Jim, Britt and Antonia will provide RMG with a better understanding of this critically important driver of our business and will help us build stronger relationships across the industry.

“The RMG ambition is to add as much value as we can to our shareholder racecourses, working alongside our betting and gaming partners, and these appointments are a clear signal of our intent to do so.”

Ian Penrose unites with DataPOWA

Former Chief Executive of  Sportech Plc, Ian Penrose has been announced as the new Non-Executive Chairman of AI technology platform DataPOWA, a company seeking to revolutionise sports marketing.

A twenty-year sports, tech and gambling leadership executive, Penrose formerly led Sportech Plc from 2005-2017, transforming the wagering systems provider from a heavily indebted £45 million business to a £225 million valuation by the end of his tenure.

In 2017, Penrose stepped down as Sportech CEO, taking on governance roles as the Chairman of the National Football Museum and becoming a Non-Executive Director of gambling technology Playtech Plc.

Founded in 2016, by sports management executive Michael Flynn, DataPOWA seeks to disrupt the all processes of the traditional sports sponsorship market, developing an AI-sophisticated platform that can analyse 2.4 trillion data points a day, helping sports stakeholders make optimal decisions.

Backing DataPOWA Ian Penrose stated: “I am very excited about working with Michael Flynn and the team at DataPOWA. They have bold ambitions  – and I’m confident that their combined understanding of sports and digital will enable their innovative AI technology, POWA index, to become an important business in the sports sponsorship sector.”