Meet the Team | Khalid Savage, Global Partnerships Executive, Football

team IMG

13.06.2024
Khalid Savage, global partnerships executive, football

What does your role entail?

The key aim of my role is to support our Global Partnerships sales team – this involves brand discussions, CRM and reporting, and connecting teams across the business. As a department we have a collective goal to secure commercial partners for our clients and the operations team works to arm our Senior Sales team with the data and research to support their discussions with brands. The sales team are the strikers, and rightly get the plaudits, but every good goal needs an assist (just like Mesut Özil and Cristiano Ronaldo during their time at Real Madrid).

Outside of our existing network of brands, we also facilitate new discussions by sourcing contact details and supporting outreach efforts. This scope of work extends to our clients as well, acting as an extension of their team and an additional research function. This ensures our rightsholders are kept up to date with industry reports, the latest trends and other analytical resources.

 

How does market research and data used within your role to identify potential partners for football sponsorships?

Ultimately, we aim to source brand partnerships that align with our clients’ objectives, goals and values. Market research is hugely important to ensure we have a comprehensive understanding of where a brand has been, and where it’s looking to go – and that the journey runs in parallel with our clients’.  

Data also builds the foundation when speaking to brands about why we believe a partnership would benefit them. Brands are evaluating opportunities in an increasingly sophisticated manner and we need to ensure we’re at the forefront of market trends.

 

One of your key clients is Inter Milan, how do you approach developing and maintaining relationships with our partners? 

It is a privilege to work with rightsholders of the stature and size of Inter Milan – one of the biggest clubs in football. As a team it is important we work in close collaboration with our clients, maintaining transparent communication. Ultimately, their success is our success. In addition, we add value through leveraging IMG’s network beyond partnerships to lean on experts in other areas of the business and in other regions across the globe.

This manifests itself in delivering in-market global roadshows for our clients. For example, with Inter Milan, we delivered in-person activations, hosting visits from numerous brands where they currently have no local presence.

 

Can you provide an example of a successful partnership you facilitated and explain why it was successful?

When defining success, it’s important to view this through the eyes of the brand – ultimately hitting their partnership objectives is what we at IMG and our rightsholders strive for. An example that comes to mind would be the role we played in securing PUMA as the technical partner of CAF, across their Total Energies CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Total Energies CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and TotalEnergies CAF Champions League properties. PUMA, wanting to strengthen their global football presence further, were looking for a major property in Africa, while CAF is always striving to partner with the world-leading brands. The two coming together was a real statement for both companies’ objectives, which was made testament when PUMA created PUMA created the tournament ball for the latest AFCON tournament in Cote D’Ivoire and named it after the host nation’s legendary football player, Laurent Pokou, demonstrating their intimate understanding and dedication to the continent.

 

A lot of our service lines work within football, what is your role in bringing different work streams together to collaborate?

As someone who has been with the company for over 5 years, I can confidently say that the Endeavor ecosystem is truly like no other – you’re an email away from connecting with an expert in a completely different field whether it be media, partnerships, PR, talent or licensing.

Football is a huge part of our ecosystem. It is incredibly important to be across our different work streams, making sure other departments are aware of the partnership team’s priorities. With this in mind, we have a specific taskforce set up to provide open communication across the various departments that intersect within the industry.

 

You previously worked in sales operations in SailGP, how do sales differ in Football to other sports? 

Working in partnerships will largely consist of high-volume outreach and sourcing strategic partners – regardless of the sport. Above all, it is about instilling honesty and accuracy in everything we look to sell. One of the biggest misconceptions is that sales in football come with a level of ease due to the sport’s popularity and fandom. Whilst football has a huge following; the premise of selling is the same as any other sport – the need to demonstrate a client’s worth to a brand remains.  

 

What emerging trends in football partnerships do you find most exciting or promising?

The rise of the women’s football game is particularly exciting – attracting new sponsors to the game that perhaps don’t traditionally sponsor football properties (DFB x Google, etc.). With full confidence that the football vehicle delivers for sponsors, I believe we will see these brands expand their football portfolios and better the game. Our work in concluding a ground-breaking deal between FIFA and Bank of Montreal for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the growth of our CONMEBOL Libertadores Femen in a property are also testament to this.

Another area is the growth of African football. As someone with Nigerian heritage, I’ve always enjoyed watching some of the continent’s biggest stars who have also gone on to excel at the highest level (Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Mo Salah etc.). With previous success within our portfolio across Europe, APAC and the Americas, we are very proud to partner with CAF.

 

You started your career at IMG in the HR team and have since moved twice internally – how has working in different teams been useful in your career so far? 

Moving around the business has been hugely beneficial to me, deepening my understanding of our offering and cultivating personal relationship within. I have also been very fortunate to have had great managers and mentors who have all been huge advocates for my development.

 

Why football, and why IMG?

I’ve always wanted to work in sport – the pipe dream was to play on the pitch but working off the pitch in football was the next best thing.  

Although football has always been my biggest passion, I’m not tied to working in a singular sport and enjoyed my time working with SailGP. Working at IMG offers the opportunity to work across a diverse portfolio of sports and across multiple work streams. I feel fortunate to have been a part of the collective success within our football partnerships team in recent years – and look forward for what’s to come.