UK businessman Chris Akers is the keynote speaker at Connections 2012 – the annual conference of the New Zealand sport and recreation sector, organised by Sport New Zealand. The theme for this year’s conference is innovation.
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Akers was the youngest Chairman of any English Premier League football team when he headed the purchase of Leeds United in 1996, was named UK Sport Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002, sold his Sports Internet Group for £301m (only a year after starting it for £25,000) and is now Chair of Sports Resource Group, an international business offering sports marketing expertise to a range of clients. He is also a Director at the Professional Squash Association and at Hip Hotels Media Ltd.
Akers says sports organisations need to be clear about their commercial goals and be "business like" in working towards them.
"Not every sports organisation has increasing profitability as a goal but every single sports group I’ve encountered needs to be financially sustainable. The reality is that whether their goal is profitability or just sustainability, in the 21st century you need to be innovative and entrepreneurial to achieve it."
Sport NZ Chief Executive Peter Miskimmin says building commercial strength into sport and recreation organisations is a high priority for Sport NZ.
"The fact is we’re a small country, with limited resources, trying to sustain a huge range of sporting and recreation activities. So we need to be innovative and entrepreneurial about it. We simply don’t have a large enough population base to rely on to support our sporting interests," Miskimmin said.
Chris Akers is joined on the Connections speaking programme by anthropologist Michael Henderson, inventor Burton Silver, social media expert Justin Flitter and Sir Graham Henry among others.
Connections 2012 is being held at the Rotorua Convention Centre on Monday April 30th and Tuesday 1st May, and includes the annual New Zealand Sport and Recreation Awards.
Laurie Edwards, Manager Marketing and Communication, Sport NZ
Phone: 027 447 0255 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sport NZ is the government agency charged with promoting, encouraging and supporting sport and physical recreation in New Zealand.