Football Marketing Asia director Yu Hang to leave

Yu Hang, a director at the Football Marketing Asia agency, is leaving the business in the coming months, SportBusiness understands.

Yu, an experienced sports industry executive that formerly worked with Chinese sports media firms LeSports and Sina Sports, is understood to be taking up a role at another company.

It is not yet clear if Yu is also leaving Wuhan DDMC Culture and Sport (DDMC), the Chinese sports and entertainment company that owns 70 per cent of FMA.

Yu joined DDMC in 2017 from the now defunct LeSports streaming platform, to play a senior role in the growing company’s expansion in sport. At the time, it had just acquired the Super Sports Media agency in China, and would go on the next year to form the FMA joint venture – originally called DDMC Fortis – and win the rights for the Asian Football Confederation in the 2021-28 period.

Yu joined LeSports in 2014 as vice-president and was subsequently named chief operating officer. Before joining Sina Sports, he worked in the marketing department at the AFC.

Yu was unavailable for comment when contacted this week.

Yu’s impending departure from FMA follows that of another senior executive, David Tyler, a co-founder of the business and its chief operating officer, last month. The exits have increased the focus on the future of the FMA agency, which is grappling with the $2.4bn (€2bn) project to commercialise the AFC rights. Last month, SportBusiness revealed that FMA is renegotiating the financial terms of the deal with the Asian Football Confederation.

The impact of Covid-19 on the sales process was the prompt for the renegotiation, although FMA was already facing a challenge to monetise its investment before the pandemic struck, with, in particular, downward-trending Asian markets affecting media-rights sales.

Speaking to SportBusiness, a source close to FMA dismissed recent suggestions amid some industry observers that there have been significant tensions between the Chinese and European elements of the management team.

Meanwhile, FMA continues to increase staff in operational sections of the business, with the matches and competitions it is responsible for producing and distributing beginning next year.

The start of its cycle has been postponed due to the pandemic – the first set of matches it was responsible for were originally to take place later this year, but will now be played in the second half of 2021.

FMA is currently hiring for two positions at its Hong Kong headquarters – an associate vice-president of partnership management and a senior manager of digital analytics.

FMA was created as a joint venture between DDMC and Fortis Sports, a sports marketing company founded by Murphy and Tyler, former colleagues and senior executives at the Team Marketing agency in Switzerland.

DDMC, along with other Chinese sports media firms, is facing a financial squeeze in its home market due to overspending during recent boom years and the impact of the pandemic. DDMC is understood to be attempting to renegotiate its deal for Spanish LaLiga media rights.