BEHIND THE HYPE: Football receives upmarket treatment - Sportal seeks to stand out in the online sports arena

Market positioning Having steadily raised its profile since its inception 18 months ago, Sportal now employs 250 staff at its offices in London, Paris, Milan, Stockholm, Cape Town and Sydney.

Market positioning Having steadily raised its profile since its

inception 18 months ago, Sportal now employs 250 staff at its offices in

London, Paris, Milan, Stockholm, Cape Town and Sydney.



Site characteristics Sportal is responsible for the official websites of

some of Europe’s largest football teams including Juventus and Real

Madrid. Sportal recently became the only official UK sponsor for the

Euro 2000 football tournament. Its site, euro2000.org, has more than

1,000 pages of editorial and 40 journalists dedicated to the event.



However, its remit doesn’t stop at football. The company also runs the

Benetton Formula One website and the rugby site scrum.com. It claims its

editorial combination of intelligence and humour sets it aside from its

more downmarket rivals.



Target demographics Anyone who has an interest in sport.



Principals Rob Hersov, the founder and chief executive, Neil McDonald,

the chief operating officer, Steve Nuttall, the head of sports, and

Andrew Croker, the co-head of sports and marketing.



Backers Sportal raised dollars 7 million in private funding when it

launched in July 1998.



In December 1999, Sportal secured a further dollars 50 million, from

investors including 3i and Nomura. One month later, BSkyB took a 5 per

cent stake.



Marketing strategy Last week Sportal became the first site in its sector

to launch a TV advertising campaign. The campaign will run until Euro

2000 and features the England football coach, Kevin Keegan.



Competitors Its main competitors are quokka, sports.com,

footballunlimited and soccernet.



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