Mark Pannes is a highly accomplished US sports executive with an incredible career across the US and Europe, from his early days at the New York Knicks, to leading a large European Football Club (AS Roma) on behalf of a US Owner and learning the inside workings of one of the largest Banks in the world (HSBC Private Bank). Mark has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and his views are well heard (through his own Podcast/Clubhouse talks) and respected in the industry. With the European Super League “fiasco” just over when we spoke, we off course took a good stab at the topic as well. As always, lots of learning and great insights throughout the discussion. Enjoy.
How it all started, a High School dream to have a career in professional sports, leads to studying sports at UT in Austin and a summer internship with the New York Knicks
First job on the operational side at Madison Square Garden (MSG), 19 different trade groups (Unions) working in the building, etc
10 years with the Knicks - Patrick Ewing and Pat Reilly days – MSG a vertically integrated company, the venue owns the teams and broadcast network – sales force is media let - Knicks the bait to sell other content at the venue (bundling)
Starting to sell Knicks as a stand alone property, non-media related – drove US$ 4 mil of new revenue (total team revenue over US$ 120 mil at the time)
Brand driven vs sales driven approach, digital and CRM starting to kick off
Ground breaking deal with American Express, co-branded card for the first time
First Entrepreneurial experience – Skilo Brand agency – range of clients and projects
First overseas sting, overseeing acquisition and then managing a Parisian Basketball Club (Tony Parker, French NBA player was part of the investor group)
After cleaning up the club in phase 1, spending most of the time on ways to finance the “underfunded” Club and connected with HSBC
Next stop HSBC Private Bank, London, banking athletes and IP owners, borrowing against assets
IP owners and athletes, asset & wealth management, borrow against revenue. COI (contractually obligated income) as security
Insider look during the global Financial Crisis (2008-09) – HSBC’s approach
Next Raptor Accelerator, Jim Pallotta, US billionaire Family office – invested in AS Roma – new role as CEO of the club
The numbers in the AS Roma deal – total US$ 160 million investment (according to reports)
Learnings from his AS Roma days, running a Listed company, every club is a “selling club” – ability to sell players is important
New Stadium plans, great project, big plans, the process to get it started (unfortunately till today it hasn’t come to fruition) (Roman politics or what happened?)
European Super League (ESL) discussion – 48 hours of madness – his view as an American Sports Executive with European Football experience
Mismatch and disconnect between team owners, there was no “executive team” in place to represent the group (it appeared), no apparent media partners, rushed announcements, etc
BCG , JP Morgan and many of the big Clubs got their fingers burned it appears in hindsight – surprisingly many rookie mistakes across the groups
The underlying challenges between the big clubs and the “others” haven’t gone away – the issue will come again at some point in the future – even the big clubs have little leverage with UEFA, so they need to come up with these threats to push their agenda
Union Sports – private consulting companies, advising on media and other long-term revenue streams
Vancouver Whitecaps FC , turn around, clean up – just when the pandemic hit six months into it
Inner Market Media – consulting and content creation for sports IP owners – focus on transatlantic view – “OTT Sports Speakeasy” (weekly on Clubhouse, Thu, 5pm UK time) and OTT Sports Podcast together with partner Michael Broughton
Last thoughts on the growth opportunities in sports in current climate – expansion period for sports – new money coming in with lots of changes along the way in the process
About Mark Pannes
Mark is the Managing Partner of Inner Market Media. A 30 year sports and media industry veteran he has managed sports, media, entertainment, and licensing businesses in North America, the UK, Europe, and Canada.
He has served as CMO of the New York Knicks (NBA), CEO for AS Roma (Serie A), CEO for the Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS), and founding director of the global sports practice at HSBC Private Bank, based in London.
He currently also serves as a teaching fellow and advisory board chair for the Center for Sports Communication & Media at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is based.
Mark is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Fordham School of Law.