Barney Francis. Head Sky Sport.
Chairman: Paul Sheldon
Since the London Olympics, sport has never been so popular in the UK, among participants and viewers alike. Our sportsmen and women are celebrated as national heroes; but without the administrators behind the scenes, their highly-anticipated sporting events would never take place. Sport is not just about the winning; it is also big business, with major television channels battling to win coverage deals, and sponsorship now a major feature of all key sporting events. With the help of friends and contacts across the sector, chairman Paul Sheldon’s list celebrates the organisers and deal-makers; the promoters of British sport, who are helping to shape the sporting landscape now and for years to come.
Paul Sheldon was educated at Marlborough and the University of Durham. He worked at Hodder Stoughton Publishers from 1975 to 1993, before becoming managing director of Hodder and Stoughton New Zealand. Sheldon was CEO of Surrey County Cricket Club from 1996 to 2011, and then founded his own consultancy firm, Paul Sheldon Consulting, in 2012.
Karren Brady, CBE. Vice-chairman West Ham United FC.
Known as the First Lady of Football, Karren Brady is an impressive and inspirational female executive in the male-dominated world of football. At the age of 23, Brady was appointed as managing director of Birmingham City Football Club, becoming the first woman to hold such a post in the Premier League when the team was promoted. She is the current vice-chairman of West Ham United. In this role, Brady was responsible for securing the Olympic Stadium as the new home of her club. Featuring on The Apprentice as an aide to Lord Sugar, Brady uses her high profile television role to promote her business acumen and to influence the sporting world.
Sir David Brailsford, CBE. Performance director British Cycling.
British cycling coach Sir David Brailsford is the current performance director of British Cycling and the general manager of Team Sky. Cycling has forced its way onto the back pages and Brailsford, the BBC Sports Personality Coach of the Year, has led the march. Under Brailsford’s leadership, Team GB has become the most successful track cycling team in modern history. In a golden age for cycling where the sport has a higher profile, more medals and increased participation than ever before, Brailsford must be credited for his influence on this intensifying sport.
Richard Scudamore. Chief executive the Premier League.
Richard Scudamore has held the post of chief executive of the Premier League since November 1999. It was his father who ignited his love of sport generally and football specifically. According to Scudamore, “he also instilled in me...the notion that independence does not exist: we all need others to achieve the most basic tasks and that hurdles are just things to overcome.” Whilst Scudamore may not be the talent scoring the goals or creating the drama, he commands the League’s broadcasts to around 212 territories and 643 million homes. Scudamore is also a founding member of the Football Foundation, a grass-roots football charity that receives over £200m in Premier League contributions. Scudamore is one of the most influential sports administrators in Britain.
Helen Grant, MP. Minister for sport and tourism.
As the recently-appointed minister for sports and tourism, Helen Grant plays an influential role in sport at the policy level, particularly with regard to the Olympic and Paralympic legacy. Grant has identified increasing the number of women in sport as one of her main priorities in the role. Grant recognises “from powerful personal experience the power of sport and the positive impact it can have on people’s lives.” Growing up on a council estate in Carlisle, Grant was a successful athlete at school, representing the region at judo, the county at hockey and playing a high standard of tennis. These early sporting accomplishments have fuelled Grant’s interest and make her a key player in the future of UK sport.
Bernie Ecclestone. President and chief executive Formula One Management.
The Formula 1 tycoon Bernie Ecclestone demonstrated his business acumen from an early age. He would work two paper rounds before school and used his wages to buy cakes that he would then sell to his peers at an inflated price. Ecclestone left school aged 16 and started working at the local gas works which allowed him the time to cultivate his love of motorcycles. His control of sport developed in the 1970s from his revolutionary sale of television rights. Today, as the president and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration, Formula 1 has been converted into one of the world’s most watched entertainments under his powerful influence.
The Baroness Grey-Thompson, DBE. Paralympian.
As one of Britain’s most successful Paralympic athletes, having held over 30 world records and 16 Paralympic medals, Baroness Grey-Thompson has become an influential voice in sports administration having retired from her competitive career in 2007. She is the vice-president of the Women's Sports Foundation and a member of the Board of the London Marathon. Grey-Thompson also sits on the Board of the London Legacy Development Corporation. In 2005, she was awarded a DBE for her services to sport and was appointed to the House of Lords in March 2010 as a non party political crossbench peer.
Greg Dyke. Chairman the FA.
British media magnate Greg Dyke is the current chairman of the FA. Dyke left grammar school with one E grade A-level in mathematics and was recruited by Marks and Spencer, who “let him go” from his role as a trainee manager after only four months. After a short career as a newspaper reporter he studied for a degree as a mature student, and then embarked on an extensive career in broadcasting, culminating in the role of director general of the BBC. Dyke accepted the FA position in July 2013, where he has overall responsibility for policy. Dyke was a director of Manchester United in the late nineties and assumed the role of non-executive chairman at Brentford in 2006.
Marc Watson. Head of BT TV.
Marc Watson is the head of BT TV, assuming the position in 2009. In the summer of 2013, he was part of a small group of BT executives who masterminded the telecoms company’s striking entrance into the top-tier level of football coverage when the giant acquired the Premier League rights. This was the first time since Sky won the Premier League rights deal in 1992 than a competitor has established such a foothold. As a key competitor to Sky’s sporting monopoly, the influence of BT TV should not be underestimated.
Barney Francis. Head Sky Sport.
Sky Sport has played an integral role in the increased commercialisation of British sport. As the managing director of Sky Sport, Barney Francis is a crucial player. He is responsible for Sky Sport’s output across the four core principal channels and Sky Sports News HD, as well as online and mobile content. Francis has managed important advances in the industry such as F1 and the Masters moving to Sky. He is credited with Sky’s first exclusively live coverage of England’s domestic test cricket matches, before moving on to Premier League and UEFA Champions League production.
Barbara Slater. Director BBC Sport.
Barbara Slater is the daughter of former professional footballer Bill Slater, who she credits as her role model, saying “he showed me that you can succeed with humility, dedication and a quiet but steely determination”. Barbara Slater became director of BBC Sport in 2009 – the first woman in the role. In this role, she is responsible for around 20,000 hours of global sports coverage across TV, radio and online every year which reaches 40% of the UK on a weekly basis. She was also responsible for supervising the sports coverage of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, the biggest planned event which has ever been held in the UK. In 2014 she will oversee the BBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics, FIFA World Cup and Commonwealth Games.