“Business Development in a Modern Sports Business: And why English football clubs still have some work to do.”

The Business of Sport – Seminar Series

Room G01 – Clore Management Centre, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1 7HX

Wednesday 19th November 2008 at 6pm
(For directions click here)

“Business Development in a Modern Sports Business: And why English football clubs still have some work to do.”

Given by:

Ben Hatton, Chief Executive, Alexander Ross Limited


Ben Hatton is Chief Executive of Alexander Ross Limited, one of Britain’s leading sports business consultancy companies. He was formerly Director of Commercial Enterprises at Manchester United Plc from 1998 to 2005 during its most successful era.

In this presentation Ben will discuss recent trends in business development in the English football industry, and will pose the following key questions:

  • Despite the huge commercial success of Premiership and Championship clubs in driving revenues, to what extent have individual clubs fully internalised the need to move from a focus on developing short-term revenue generating initiatives, towards a genuinely long term strategic focus on business development?
  • Is it the case that the real strategic thinkers in the football industry have been the broadcasting and sporting goods companies, such as BSkyB and Setanta, and Nike and Adidas?
  • How well equipped are English football clubs in terms of the quality of their business thinking to meet the challenges of an economic downturn?



Ben was Director of Commercial Enterprises for Manchester United Plc from 1998 to 2005 during United’s most successful commercial era.  As a member of the Executive Committee Ben was involved in the creation and implementation of the Manchester United Plc business strategy and had responsibility for much of Manchester United’s non-football commercial operations. He also managed the integrated media business, the global fan club with over 220 clubs and 300,000 members worldwide and a website in 3 languages; negotiated and executed Manchester United’s overseas tours, including the ground breaking tour of the USA in 2003 and the tour to Asia in 2005.  Key achievements include the negotiation of the Nike sponsorship agreement, still the largest individual club sponsorship contract in the world at £303 million over 13 years; implementing the Manchester United Interactive business, setting up the MU joint venture with Vodafone in 12 countries and re-launching and re-branding the fan club business.

Prior to Manchester United, Ben was Group Treasurer for First Choice Holidays Plc, the UK’s second largest travel company with responsibility for all aspects of the cash, debt, foreign exchange, oil trading and aircraft leasing aspects of the business.  Whilst with First Choice, Ben, a Chartered Accountant, was responsible for numerous acquisitions and fund raising activities and managed foreign exchange trading lines of in excess of £1.4 billion in value.

Ben is now also a Licensed UEFA Match Agent.

Contact Details:

Ben Hatton
Alexander Ross Limited
10 Greycoat Place

Tel: +44 20 7960 6075

For further details on this Seminar Series contact:

Sean Hamil
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Email: or Tel: 020-7631 6763

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