The Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast by Marcus Luer
Andrew Croker, ”Mr Chairman”

Andrew Croker, ”Mr Chairman”

September 11, 2021

Andrew Croker, Chairman of multiple enterprises and one of the most outspoken sports Entrepreneurs hailing from the UK.  Fun and colorful deep dive into Andrew’s 40+ years in the industry from his days following his dad around Football club board rooms to successfully launching Perform, the Global Cycling Network and getting Hawk-Eye into Football.

 

Key Highlights

  1. How it started, back in ancient history in 1973, his father becoming the General Secretary of the English FA
  2. Opening doors and hanging out with his dad in Football club board rooms and socializing with everyone in sports
  3. Joining BSB (later BSkyB) as employee #4-5, drawing up weekly sports schedule
  4. Finders, Binders, Minders and Grinders.  He was always a “Finder”
  5. How sitting next to Sir Frank Lowe (Advertising Legend) on the Concorde lead to launching Orbit –  sports marketing agency   
  6. Next stop, Ian Todd asking him to start IMG Football Division together with Paul Smith   
  7. Sportal – massive rise and big crash  - missed the big sale by weeks – dotcom boom and bust story of the year 2000
  8. Premier League international TV rights (IMG, Sport+, Fox/Newscorp partnership) –  working with new Sportfive as International Board Member and UK CEO
  9. How “Perform” idea was seeded and came together – group in Hamburg looking at Digital Production idea – Oliver Slipper – Premium TV  & Inform team
  10. Access Industries (Len Blavatnik) comes into the picture – meeting Robert Louis-Dreyfus – and eventually cutting a deal with Len to merge Premium TV and Inform to form Perform
  11. Going public and taking it back private, from de-coupling Perform’s profitable B2B business from DAZN’s B2C business and the differences in business models and valuations
  12. Next opportunity arrives with Play Sports Group – Claude Ruibal, Global Head of Sports of YouTube at the time providing the “seed money” for the Global Cycling Network on YouTube (Chairman role) – great story from how it started and eventually sold to Eurosport/Discovery Network in 2019
  13. Fascinating Hawk-Eye Football story (South Africa World Cup story and how we ended up in the same stadium in Bloemfontein)  and our thoughts on VAR (Video Assistant Referee) in football
  14. Oakwell Sports Advisory – Chairman Advisory Board – intersection between sports world and Private Equity
  15. His views on PE in sports, not mincing his words as usual – and a bit of Consultant bashing to top it off
  16. Final thoughts on why we both love the industry and can’t wait to get back out

 

About Andrew Croker

Andrew Croker is a very well-known figure in the sports management and media business, with over forty years’ experience. He has worked with many of the biggest rights holders, media owners, agencies and sports brands in the world. Andrew was the first Head of Sport at BSB, the forerunner to Sky Sports, and started and ran IMG’s global football division.

In 2007, as Executive Chairman, he co-founded the digital sports rights agency, Perform Group, now DAZN, the live and on-demand sports streaming service. He remains an adviser to Stats Perform, the leading sports data and streaming service. He also consulted to Hawk-Eye for ten years until 2019, focussing on the introduction of technology into football, and was also Chairman of Play Sports Group, which included the Global Cycling Network - the world’s leading community of cycling fans - until its sale to Discovery Networks in 2019.

 

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