|This article does not cite any references or sources. (January 2014)|
Sportal was one of the leading companies in the dotcom boom at the end of the 1990s. Founded by Rob Hersov, and backed by BSkyB and Silvio Berlusconi's Fininvest among others, the company, originally called Pangolin, voraciously acquired rights to host a plethora of official websites of Europe’s leading football clubs (including Real Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan and Bayern Munich) as well as lower-profile sites across a number of other sports. It also opened offices across Europe and in South Africa and Australia.
In December 1999 it was valued at $170 million, and in the summer of 2000 it was named as the Sunday Times’s #1 web company at the same time it ran the website for Euro 2000, attracting record numbers of visitors. Negotiations were taking place with Vivendi Universal to sell the company for an estimated £275 million, but those coincided with the internet bubble bursting and the deal collapsed.
The bloated staffing, number of offices and poor deals meant that money was being haemorrhaged and as the world woke up to the reality that the web was not a licence to print money, the cash fast ran out.
By the end of 2000 the company were engaged in an endless round of fund raising (by then there had already been one round of redundancies) and more people were laid off throughout 2001. In August it was bailed out by a £5 million investment from Bernard Arnault's Europatweb vehicle and the staff – down to 60 from more than 300 - were put on notice.
In November, what remained of the company was sold for £190,000 to 365 Media Group (then known as ukbetting plc). 365 initially continued Sportal as sports content site then in 2002 relaunched the brand as a multi-sports broadband video portal sportal.com. The website continues in that guise to this day and continues to develop the content available.
The South African and Australian operations continued as independent entities from 2001.
Sportal Australia has established itself as a major player in the digital media space in Australia. In 2005 it established a subsidiary, Sportal New Zealand, and in 2006 it acquired Champion Data, a sports data business specialising in Australian Football.
Sportal also has forums, including having 21,000 Australian and Kiwi members,[according to whom?] who talk over a variety of sporting things.
In 2008, Sportal also opened its office in Mumbai and their India-centric website, www.sportal.co.in, was launched in November 2010.
A Sportal is also a reference to a web portal related to a sports team. These web portals, called 'Sportals' are sports websites that bring together all information about a professional sports team. These sports portals are created by the fans, for the fans.
- Sportal.com (UK)
- Sportal.com.au (Australia)
- Sportal.co.nz (New Zealand)
- Sportal.co.in (India)
- (Sportal Australian Forums)
- Sportal.sk (Slovakia)
- Sportal.rs (Serbia)
- Sportal.bg (Bulgaria)
- Sportal.se (Sweden)
- sportal.de (Germany)
- Sportal.it (Italy)
- Sportal.es (Spain)
- Sportal.fr (France)
- Sportal.com.hr (Croatia)
- Sportalpolska.pl (Poland)
- Sportalkorea (Korea)
- Sportal.tv (Video)
- Sportal.fm (Radio)
- Sportal.fo (Faroe Islands)