NRL: Expat buys into Melbourne Storm

By Steve Deane

Kiwi sports lawyer based in London part of four-man consortium taking ownership of champion NRL club.

The price the Bart Campbell syndicate paid to News Ltd for the Melbourne Storm has been kept secret. Photo / AP
The price the Bart Campbell syndicate paid to News Ltd for the Melbourne Storm has been kept secret. Photo / AP

Elite All Blacks, Major League Baseball stars, EPL footballers and top international cricketers are among the sporting heavyweights in the portfolio of Bart Campbell, the expat Kiwi sports agent whose syndicate has purchased champion NRL club Melbourne Storm.

Mr Campbell, a London-based sports and contract lawyer who was educated at Otago and Auckland Universities and later at Harvard Business School, is the chief operating officer of CSM Sport & Entertainment.

The company, whose chairman is Lord Sebastian Coe, promotes itself as the world's fourth-largest sports marketing company.

Mr Campbell is also the non-executive chairman of TLA Worldwide, a London Stock Exchange-listed company that has acquired sports management businesses in the United States to gain a foothold in Major League Baseball.

He describes himself as having "a wide-ranging and global network with experience in combining capital investment with growing sports businesses".

Mr Campbell maintains his links to New Zealand through his role as a director of Essentially Group, the player management company whose Kiwi clients include All Blacks Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, and cricketer Daniel Vettori.

He was the driving force behind the Crusaders' "home" Super Rugby match with the Sharks in London in 2011, which was also played as a fundraiser for the Christchurch Red Cross earthquake appeal. The game attracted 40,000 to Twickenham Stadium on a Sunday afternoon, despite being marketed for about only 10 days, and raised more than $100,000 for the earthquake fund, while also contributing to the Crusaders' coffers.

"In the end we got there," Mr Campbell said last year. "The occasion worked because, a) the cause was a good one, and b) the rugby was scintillating. Both those teams knew they were there for a special reason and for me the game more than lived up to any kind of rugby billing. It was phenomenal."

News Ltd's sale of Melbourne Storm to Mr Campbell's four-man consortium was announced at a press conference yesterday.

The consortium is said to boast a wealth of experience in sports administration, particularly incoming chief executive Mark Evans, the long-time boss of English rugby club Harlequins.

Australian media reported that prominent Melbourne businessman Gerry Ryan was part of the group.

"We have assembled a team of shareholders from Melbourne and originally New Zealand to build on the foundations that exist today," Mr Campbell said. "We are all from this part of the world but international in outlook."

The sale figure is confidential but the new owners will have immediate access to more than $20 million in NRL funding, guaranteed to the club when News Ltd withdrew as part-owner of the competition.

The ownership transfer did not make big waves in AFL-mad Melbourne's media yesterday, with the story not featured on The Age website's home page and ranking sixth in the sports section.

Bart Campbell

* London-based sports and contract lawyer.

* Educated at Otago and Auckland Universities and Harvard Business School.

* The chief operating officer of CSM Sport & Entertainment.

* He was the driving force behind the Crusaders' "home" Super Rugby match with the Sharks in London in 2011.

* This was also played as a fundraiser for the Christchurch Red Cross earthquake appeal.

- additional reporting Patrick McKendry

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 24 Apr 2014 19:59:18 Processing Time: 440ms