Burnley Commercial Premier League

Meet the Member: “There is such a buzz around the club and that energy transcends all the different departments.”

August 9, 2023

Ahead of this Friday’s Premier League curtain-raiser between Burnley and Manchester City, we caught up with the newly-promoted side’s Head of Commercial, Marcus Mellor to speak about the energy around the club and the challenges around dealing with partnerships when you can’t be sure what league you will be in.

So Marcus to kick off, take us through your journey in sport?

My journey working in the business of sport began at TRM Partners, a boutique sponsorship sales agency. When I was there we worked as white label sales proposition for some premium rights holders such as Mercedes F1, UEFA and Cricket Australia. My role was based around research, analysing and understanding cohesive brands to approach on behalf of those particular rights holders. 

Following this, I went to work for a company called The Energy Check, I started there as a Partnerships Manager and then worked my way up to Head of Partnerships. At the company’s peak involvement in sport partnerships, we worked with over 40 rights holders, both in the US and the UK. My main role was to drive ROI through our relationships, different marketing campaigns and branding assets with multiple rights holders across a variety of sports.  

I then moved to work for Social Chain, becoming Head of Commercial Partnerships. This was a step outside of sport, with Social Chain being a company that focused on e-commerce, social commerce and media publishing as well as being a marketing agency; my role here involved developing relationships with brands in a slightly different way, as we would work on campaigns that focused on content delivery and traditional media metrics on socials (impressions, reach, engagements etc.). I worked with brands such as BT & EE, Ebay, Logitech and EPOS, focusing on content delivery and returns through ecommerce sales.

So essentially, all roads lead to Burnley… kind of! I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Social Chain but I always kept a keen eye on any relevant opportunities in sport. Being a football fan, I was aware of the waves Burnley were making, and meeting the management and ownership as part of the interview process only affirmed that, I knew I wanted to be part of the journey immediately! 

You have been at Burnley for 10 months now, talk to us a bit about your time at the club and what has surprised you the most?

Honestly, as cliche as it might sound, the first 10 months have been an absolute whirlwind and felt more like 10 days. I don’t think there have been many weeks where we haven’t announced something new and exciting, whether it be JJ & Kealia Watt’s involvement, Vincent extending his contract (amongst much PL interest), multiple partner announcements, promotion… the list goes on! 

We are actually a very young organisation in terms of the people we have, I like to describe us as a startup, with 140 years of history and it definitely feels that way in the office. Cliche again but we want to get 1% better everyday, growing fast and learning from our failures (which I have plenty to learn from). No day is the same at the moment and it really is an exciting time for the football club. 

The pace at which the club is moving is incredible and we have a plethora of amazing young talent in our ranks who are driving us forward every day. We have extremely ambitious owners and we are all bought into the ethos of evolving, we are making massive leaps forward in terms of establishing the club as an exciting brand in sport and football.

How has it been different to other roles you have held previously?

It is my first time working for a rightsholder in my career and it has been really interesting being this side of things. I think understanding the market and what brands are looking for from rights holders has probably been the biggest difference, everyday I seem to uncover something which may not have crossed my mind in my previous roles, I have really enjoyed that learning aspect.  

Fundamentally, there are a lot of similarities between what I do now and what I have done before which has put me in good stead. My position allows me to both pitch to brands, trying to bring on new partners as well as focusing on delivery. I think the best part about working for a football club is the opportunity to be creative, working collaboratively both internally and with brands to ideate on unique concepts. I love taking ideas to brands we work with and pitch new things, it’s the best part of my job! We really want to break the mould with what we do with partners, I will definitely be leaning on Dude Perfect for some content ideas!

It was a great season for the club on the field earning promotion back to the Premier League, what has it been like behind the scenes?

It has been great, there is such a buzz around the club at the moment and that energy transcends all the different departments. I’d also like to shout out our women’s team, they came incredibly close to promotion last season, we’re all hopeful they’ll follow the men with promotion this upcoming season. Thankfully, in my role, both our men’s and women’s teams’ success has supported us to have an extremely successful period of onboarding new partners as well. For us, it has really been an opportunity for us to supercharge our off field operation also.  

We continue to try and emulate that success we have seen on the pitch through exciting partnerships and business developments. We have introduced a brand new ecommerce site, slightly rebranded (you may notice the slight change in colour of our crest), and announced a unique partnership with Dude Perfect to combine and grow our youth audience, hopefully capturing new football fans and making them Burnley FC fans for life! We also continue to develop innovative transfer announcement videos with our amazing content and social team continuing to smash it out of the park. 

Everyone is really excited about the strategy we have for this season both on and off the pitch, we will do our best to achieve off the pitch and fingers crossed both Vinny and Rebecca can get the teams to do the magic on it.

It is obviously tricky to put a value on your sponsorship packages when you’re not sure whether you are going to be in the Premier League or in the EFL Championship. Tell us a bit about how that process works?

We were in quite a fortunate position because we had a good steer that we were probably going to get promoted from about half way through the season. I think the conversation very much depends on who you are speaking with. We are certainly leading conversations with the journey we are on as a club, we have made some really unique strides with the likes of JJ & Kealia coming on board as investors as well as working with Dude Perfect, so utilising this as a key way we value our proposition. Having this to leverage certainly assists in ensuring we have a stable level of outreach and impressions no matter which league we are in.

Our owners continue to work closely with us to evolve our story, we are improving on the infrastructure we have off the pitch to ensure great delivery for partners, we want to deliver no matter what happens on the pitch, and we have a clear strategy to deliver content and activations with this in mind ie. our Sky Documentary and further BTS content with our partners. These considerations have been a key part of valuing our assets, while also understanding that on-pitch success and the broadcast reach of the Premier League is a huge factor to valuing our key media facing assets and will in turn assist our owned channels growth. 

It is another big challenge to try and stay in the top division. With your partners how does a multi-year deal work when you can’t be certain what league you are going to be playing in?

Again, this is through open and honest conversations, as well as really leading with the journey we are on as a club and our story. This is something we have been really strong on as well in my opinion, and has been supported through the unique work we have done already.

I think it also comes back to understanding the different assets that are available in the EFL to the Premier League. For example, we have been flexible in the development of our contracts meaning that some partners will take up some on-kit assets if we are relegated, this is to ensure we still deliver value to them as a brand marketing tool even in The Championship. 

If you could work for another sports organisation, in or out of football, who would it be and why?

I think for me it would be the PGA Tour. I am a massive golf fan and the idea of touring with a sport I love is something that really appeals to me. I’d also love to end up in the USA at some point. 

That being said, I am really loving my time here at Burnley, and I truly thank the management and owners of the club who were willing to give me an opportunity at this truly amazing club. UTC!

Burnley Commercial Premier League