Paul Barber (soccer administrator)

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Paul Barber is an English football administrator and executive who is currently the chief executive of Brighton & Hove Albion.

Management career[edit]

The Football Association[edit]

As Commercial Director and latterly Director of Marketing and Communications for The Football Association (The FA), Paul Barber created "FA Partners", The FA's sponsorship programme for 2002–2006 which secured multimillion-pound agreements with McDonald's, Pepsi, Carlsberg, Nationwide Building Society, British Airways, Giorgio Armani, Sainsbury's, and Umbro, while shielding The FA's prime assets - The FA Cup and England teams - from title sponsors. Barber also secured The FA Council's agreement to rename The Charity Shield as The FA Community Shield to better connect a top sponsor to both the grass roots football community and the highest levels of the game, a sponsorship concept Barber later sold to McDonald's. FA Partners also included sponsorship of women's football, courtesy of Nationwide Building Society, for the first time, as well as other significant support for grass roots football, an area of the game Barber is believed to be passionate about.

During his time at The FA, Barber led negotiations for The FA's various long term broadcast media agreements with BSkyB, BBC and ITV ensuring a terrestrial broadcast platform for The FA's major properties and innovative sports coverage from BSkyB together with rights fees worth several hundred million pounds. Following in the footsteps of close friend and former FA Chief Executive, David Davies, Barber often acted as The FA's public and media face and voice during a high profile and at times highly controversial period for organisation which included the last match at the old Wembley Stadium, the appointment of Sven-Göran Eriksson as England coach, Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand's missed drugs test, a threatened England players strike ahead of the crucial European Championship 2014 qualifier in Turkey, and the resignation of Chief Executive Adam Crozier.

Following The FA's decision to re-build Wembley Stadium, Barber was tasked with finding alternative venues for England's matches and for The FA Cup Final and The FA Community Shield matches. Barber's answer was the commercially successful and highly popular 'England on the Road' programme which saw England's senior team and under 21 internationals taken to different English stadiums, including Old Trafford, Anfield, White Hart Lane, Stadium of Light, St James's Park, St Mary's Stadium, Pride Park, and Villa Park during the period of the new Wembley Stadium's construction. Barber took The FA Cup Final and The FA Community Shield to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. During the same period Barber led the development of England fans, the FA's official supporters' scheme.

Barber's international football experience extends to him being a senior member of England's official travelling party to major tournaments including UEFA's European Championships in 2000 (in the Netherlands and Belgium) under Kevin Keegan's management, and to the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and Korea when England were led by Sven Goran Eriksson. From 1997 Barber acted as a part-time adviser for The FA's ultimately unsuccessful attempt to stage the World Cup in England in 2006 and, latterly, he provided part-time support from his base in Vancouver for The FA's similarly unsuccessful and controversial 2018 campaign.

Tottenham Hotspur FC[edit]

As Executive Director at Tottenham Hotspur of the Premier League, Barber enjoyed a close working relationship with the Club's demanding and tough negotiating Chairman, Daniel Levy. Barber was responsible for running the club's day-to-day operations, including all commercial areas, sponsorship, marketing, ticketing, hospitality and the clubs's international development. He joined the Club's Board early in 2005 and was tasked with re-shaping and improving the Club's commercial structure and building closer relationships with supporter groups.

During his time at Tottenham Hotspur, Barber secured the North London club's then-largest ever shirt sponsorship deal – worth over £34 million over 4 years – with Gibraltar-based online betting firm, Mansion.com, and agreed international club partnerships with MLS side San Jose Earthquakes and Hong Kong-based South China FC.

Barber created One Hotspur – the club's supporter membership and season ticket holder programme – and was credited by many Tottenham fans for the direct link he provided between supporters and the club's Board making himself approachable, responsive and accountable to supporters' queries and questions. Barber worked closely with Daniel Levy to bring manager Harry Redknapp to the club in the Autumn of 2008 after a poor start to the 2008/9 Premier League season under Spanish coach Juande Ramos.

Barber resigned from his position as Executive Director and a member of the Board at Tottenham Hotspur early in 2010 to take up an opportunity to become Chief Executive Officer of Vancouver Whitecaps FC and become the first British-born sports executive to lead a franchise in to Major League Soccer, football's top tier in North America. He stayed on the Board at Tottenham Hotspur as a Non-Executive Director until the summer of 2011.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC[edit]

During his tenure at Vancouver Whitecaps FC, one of the oldest and largest professional soccer clubs in North America, Barber inked a number of major sponsorships with telecommunications giant Bell Canada, EA Sports, Budweiser, Kia Motors, BMO Bank of Montreal, Rogers Sportsnet TV, and TEAM 1040 Radio. In all, it was reported in the Canadian media that the club signed a total of 25 new commercial agreements in a 24-month period while Barber was chief executive officer.[citation needed] The Vancouver Whitecaps also became the first MLS club to have all its League and Cup matches broadcast live on TV, radio, mobile and online, while also securing more than 15,000 season ticket holders for its first MLS season, one of the highest in the league.[citation needed]

While in Vancouver, Barber oversaw two complex stadium moves in less than 12 months between November 2010 and October 2011. The Whitecaps completed its 2010 season in the 5,000-seat Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, British Columbia, before moving to the temporary but historic Empire Field site in Vancouver (capacity 27,000) in March 2011, and then on to the newly refurbished 2010 Winter Olympic Games venue, BC Place with a 55,000 capacity, a spectacular retractable roof, and the largest centrally hung video board in North America, in October 2011.

However, the club was unable to replicate its commercial success on the field of play and struggled throughout its first MLS season, leading to the early dismissal of coach Teitur Thordarson and the subsequent appointments of Tommy Soehn, as interim head coach, and Martin Rennie (who subsequently parted company with the Whitecaps at the end of the 2013 season after two seasons in charge).

Following Vancouver Whitecaps' announcement of his decision to return to the UK in the spring of 2012, the London-born Barber was linked to various new roles in English football at Premier League clubs, including a return to Tottenham Hotspur, before surprising some industry observers by accepting the opportunity to join one of the country's most ambitious and progressive clubs, Brighton & Hove Albion in the Football League Championship.

Brighton & Hove Albion FC[edit]

On 28 May 2012, it was announced that Barber would be returning to the United Kingdom after more than two and a half years in North America to take up a new role as Chief Executive of Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion on 18 June 2012.[1] Barber joined Brighton & Hove Albion from Vancouver Whitecaps FC where he was Chief Executive Officer.

Barber's role at Brighton has seen him gain first hand experience of The Football League's Championship level for the first time in his career, as well as working in the American Express Community Stadium, opened in the summer of 2011.

In Barber's first season with the club (2012/13), Brighton recorded their highest league finish for more than 30 years and reached the Championship play-offs with crowds topping 30,000. However, a highly successful season was soured by the acrimonious departure of Uruguayan Manager, Gus Poyet, dismissed by the club for gross misconduct.

During the same season, Barber announced Brighton & Hove Albion's most valuable ever sponsorship deal when he confirmed at a press conference on 13 March 2013 that American Express had signed a multi-year agreement to be the Club's shirt sponsor for its men's, women's and youth teams. The deal, believed to be worth several millions of pounds to the Championship club, extended American Express's relationship with Albion which started with the US financial services giant's stadium naming rights agreement in 2010.

On 19 July 2013, Brighton confirmed the appointment of former Barcelona star, Oscar Garcia Junyent, as head coach for the 2013/14 season. For the second successive year Brighton & Hove Albion secured a Sky Bet Championship play off spot with a 2–1 victory at Nottingham Forest courtesy of a thrilling last-minute goal in the final game of the season from Argentinian striker, Leonardo Ulloa.

Towards the end of 2013, Paul Barber was named overall CEO of the Year at the annual Football Business Awards (on 7 November 2013). Barber also received the award for Football League Championship CEO of the Year at the same event at Chelsea FC's Stamford Bridge stadium in London.[2]

Oscar Garcia resigned for personal reasons at the end of the 2013/14 season and Barber and Tony Bloom, Brighton's dynamic young chairman, started another hunt for a manager to carry them to the Premier League. The initial excitement surrounding the June 2014 appointment of former Liverpool captain and Bayer Leverkusen coach, Sami Hyypia, turned sour when Hyypia failed to get the results needed to sustain Brighton's challenge at the top of the Championship. Hyypia resigned after just 6 months and was replaced by the more experienced Chris Hughton on 31 December 2014. Hughton, who had worked with Barber at Tottenham Hotspur, went on to steer Brighton clear of a surprise relegation fight to retain the club's Championship for a fifth successive season.

In the summer of 2014, Brighton & Hove Albion confirmed its status by opening one of the United Kingdom's best new training and academy facilities completed at a cost of over £30 million. Named as the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre - the club's third long term and lucrative sponsorship agreement with global financial services giant, American Express - the facility houses the club's 1st team, academy and women's football operations.[citation needed]

On the back of its surprisingly poor 2014/15 season, Brighton surprised pundits and Championship rivals alike by setting a new club record with an unbeaten run which, to the end of November 2015, extended to 18 league matches and saw the Seagulls top the Sky Bet Championship. In the same month, Brighton enjoyed more success at the 2015 Football Business Awards where the south coast club were named "Overall Best Football Club to Work For" and "Best Community Scheme (non Premier League)". The club also received wide acclaim[citation needed]for its highly successful staging of two Rugby World Cup 2015 fixtures including the historic Japanese victory over South Africa.

Wider business career[edit]

Recognised as one of English football's most experienced executives[citation needed] Barber has now spent close to 20 years in football administration at all levels of the game including time working for The FA at the 2000 European Championships and the 2002 World Cup, Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League and UEFA Cup, Vancouver Whitecaps FC in Major League Soccer, and Brighton & Hove Albion in England's Football League Championship.

On 22 June 2015, The Football League in England announced that Barber had been elected to its board of directors as one of three Championship representatives - the others being Jez Moxey of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Middlesbrough's Keith Lamb. Barber will serve a three-year term on the board alongside the League's other directors, who include former Rugby World Cup 2015 CEO, Debbie Jevans, and former National Express and Strategic Rail Authority boss, Richard Bowker.

Prior to his career working in professional football, Barber held a variety of senior executive and board level positions in several large British companies including Barclays Bank, Inchcape, Abbey National, Royal & Sun Alliance, as well as the US advertising and communications group Ogilvy & Mather, where he was Chief Executive Officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Barber has also spent time serving as a part-time Non-Executive Director for Rose Bowl plc, parent company of Hampshire County Cricket Club, for Tottenham Hotspur FC, following his departure for Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and for Nolan Partners Ltd, a UK-based Sports Executive Search & Recruitment firm, established by The Football Association's former Human Resources Director, Paul Nolan.

Barber has spoken at major sports industry and business events all over the world, including the United States, Canada, Australia, China, and across Europe. Barber has also delivered lectures and key-note presentations at numerous universities and business schools, including Cambridge University's Judge Business School, and Wharton Business School in the United States.

Born in London, England, Paul Barber, 48, is married with a son and two daughters.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gourley, Aaron (30 May 2012). "Brighton Appoint Former Tottenham Director Paul Barber". F.C. Business. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Football Business Award Winners Announced". www.footballbusinessawards.com. London. 7 November 2013.