Sky Italia’s head of sports rights, programming and production Matteo Mammì said today that his impending departure from the company was not linked to Lega Serie A’s search for a chief executive. He is reported in Italy to be one of the favourites to land the role.
He told SportBusiness Media: “I’m leaving for a combination of personal and professional reasons. Basically, I feel ready for a fresh challenge after over seven intense and challenging years at Sky. I want to do something different, and I’m considering various options.
“It feels like the natural end of a cycle, after having renewed our major rights deals – Serie A, the Champions League and Europa League, Formula One and MotoGP – for the next three to five years, and after having relaunched the Sky Sport channels. The most recent sales process for Serie A was the fourth I have been involved with and was particularly demanding.”
Mammì is stepping down after seven-and-a-half years at Sky. He joined in June 2011 as director of sports rights acquisitions. Previously he had been the IMG agency’s head of sales for Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta.
He oversaw three cycles of Serie A rights acquisitions at Sky Italia. At IMG, he had worked with agency president Ioris Francini on an unsuccessful bid to become the media-rights adviser to the league. The contract was awarded to the Infront agency in July 2008.
Serie A president Gaetano Micchichè wants the clubs to identify a new chief executive at the next league assembly on November 13. The post is currently held on an interim basis by Marco Brunelli, the league’s director general, who would return to that role.
Micchichè said the new chief executive would be tasked with developing a league channel ahead of the next rights cycle, from 2021-22. This is one of the main reasons Mammì’s candidacy is supported by several clubs.
It is thought he has the backing of at least nine of the 20 Serie A clubs: Bologna, Empoli, Fiorentina, Frosinone, Parma, Roma, Sassuolo, S.P.A.L. and Torino.
Mammì said the vacant Lega role was not his reason for leaving Sky but that it was a position he would be interested in. “The difference between the Italian league and some of the other major leagues is that it is at a point where it has to put in place a complete new in-house structure. It has fallen behind some of the other leagues in this respect over the last 10 years. The margin for growth is substantial, which is what would make the role a very exciting challenge. Then there is the league channel, which is a fascinating idea, but it needs to be analysed in depth in terms of the business plan, financials, operations and legal framework.”
Other candidates for the chief executive role include: Alessandro Araimo, executive vice-president and managing director of media company Discovery Italy; Umberto Gandini, formerly chief executive of AS Roma and executive director of AC Milan; and Michele Uva, the former chief executive of the Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio, the Italian football federation, who left the post late last month following the election of new federation president Gabriele Gravina.