WorldSBN Interview Series - Andy Rice

8th December 2020

Major Events International's COO, Andy Rice was recently interviewed by the Sports Business Network as part of their 'WorldSBN Interview Series with Notable Experts and Sharpest Minds Professionals in the Sports and eSports Industry'. Here are some of his responses : 

 

  1. Can you give an overview of your experience working with sport? How it started, because sports, challenges, achievements .......

Andy has had a long and successful media and events career. With a Sport and English degree from Loughborough University, he started work as a graduate trainee at IPC Magazines in 1985. After a series of management roles he was part of the team that took Market Link Publishing public in 1998. He then became Publishing Director at SportBusiness International and, over a period of 8 years, helped transform it into the market-leading, multi-media brand it is today. Andy joined the Executive Board of the Press Association in 2011, heading up sport and managing the partnerships with LOCOG and The Premier League. In 2013 he joined the Executive Board of Future Media, heading up the Sport, Auto and Music Division, until their sale to Immediate Media. After following a childhood dream (which turned into a nightmare) he retrained as an Sports and English teacher. He spent a couple of years at his old school and working for an educational charity before returning to the business of sport as COO of Major Events International.

 

  1. For you, what makes the sports industry different from other industries?

There are few industries that are as driven by passion as the sports industry. If you are into sport, you have grown up playing it and watching it. You speak to your mates about it; it delivers a deep emotional connection, providing you with highs and lows; it is ubiquitous in your life. To then be able to make your living from it is a dream come true for most professionals within the sports business. Few of us are talented enough to be professional sportsmen and women; so this is the next best thing for us. We’re not on the pitch, but we are, at least, on the sidelines!

 

  1. What do you love most in your field?

In my field, I love the horses- but they cost me a fortune! But I guess that is not exactly what you mean. What I love most about my job is that I spend my days discussing something that I am passionate about and something that really interests me. My job is to help other people do their jobs more efficiently and more successfully so generally, I get a great buzz from helping canoes go faster and acting as a catalyst for growth.

 

  1. What is your biggest challenge in your daily work with sports?

My biggest challenge is prioritorising the number of opportunities which present themselves: for MEI and for our members. There are only so many hours in the day and we are a very small team that punches massively above our weight. For me there is always a B2B Summit on the horizon to organise and monetise, whilst at the same time serving the needs of MEI’s 66 members and numerous rights holding clients. It’s quite a juggling act most of the time.

 

  1. The sport works with the passion of the people, how does the sports fan influence or participate with their area of expertise?

The fan helps talent maximise potential. I takes hard work, dedication and sacrifice- not to mention a great deal of innate talent-  to become a professional athlete. Performing in front of fans brings out a dominant response and enhances performance. Fans are the financial life-blood of the sports industry. Without them there would be no TV rights, no sponsorship, no merchanding, no ticket sales-  no business.

 

  1. How has the covid-19 pandemic influenced your area / company? What ideas and changes are you and your company planning for the future?

Traditionally we would run a Major Events Summit in the Summer and in the Autumn. Speakers would be flown in and put up in hotels; delegates would pay decent delegate fees; sponsors and exhibitors would want to be involved to have a platform to promote their brand and their solutions. Covid has stripped out the costs, but also the revenues- as delegate and sponsor revenues have suffered by taking the events online. However, our reach and our influence has massively increased. So turnover has suffered but the long-term brand positioning has benefitted. In the future we will embrace the hybrid model. We are desperate to get back to face to face networking, but the online model will stay with us to allow speakers and delegates to join us from around the world, without the need to travel costs and saving valuable time.

MEI provides a very effective conduit to reach rights holding decision makers at host cities, teams, leagues and federations. There has been a plethora of Covid-busting solutions developed over the past 6 months. I am delighted that many are choosing to work with MEI to help launch them into the global major events eco-system.

 

  1. Can you give students advice to professionals looking to enter the sports sector?

Do not do a Masters. Take an internship.