Sports Career Spotlight

We've been featuring executives from the sports industry since 2001. Naturally, some of these executives have moved onward and upward in their sports careers. We believe these profiles remain relevant and valuable because they highlight the hard work, dedication, brilliant successes, and lessons learned in a variety of career paths through the sports industry.

John Guppy

John Guppy, Founder

Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing


Soccerís a big pond for Guppyís new marketing agency

John Guppy left England to play college soccer in the U.S. at the age of 18, and he never returned. Instead, he built a career around the sport doing everything from managing U.S. Soccer Federation sponsorships to running the Chicago Fire as its president and CEO. Now heís launching a new soccer-specific agency called Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing designed to help properties and sponsors connect with U.S. soccer consumers.

Age: 40
New title: Founder, Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing
Previous title: President and CEO of the Chicago Fire
First job: Assistant soccer coach, University of Massachusetts Amherst
College education: Bachelorís in marketing, New Hampshire College, 1990; masterís in sports management, University of Massachusetts, 1991
Resides: Chicago
Grew up: Winchester, England
Executive most admired: David Stern
Brand most admired: Apple
Favorite vacation spot: Bermuda
Last book read: ďNew Rules of Marketing and PR,Ē by David Meerman Scott
Last movie seen: ďJourney to the Center of the EarthĒ
Favorite movie: ďA Fish Called WandaĒ
Favorite musician: Paul Weller

What will be the biggest challenge in launching your own agency?
Itís the excitement and uncertainty of stepping out on your own. You donít have the infrastructure of a company behind you. Thereís no full-time job and a paycheck. Thatís what makes people nervous and intrigues them when they step out on their own.

Why are you doing it?
Iíve always wanted to run my own business and Iím at a point in my life where Iím at a point to do that. The soccer world has evolved to where itís truly an industry and thereís a need for the expertise that Iíve built up over the years.

Why Gilt Edge Soccer?
If you look up the definition of ďgilt edge,Ē it will talk about the highest quality or value. If you Google it, youíll pull up British references where itís used to refer to great goals or games. Itís really about what Iím trying to do, which is to provide the highest-quality marketing services.

Any concerns about the economy as you do this?
Yes. Everyone has to be concerned about the economy. Having said that, soccer teams are still going to be playing next year and brands sponsoring soccer are still going to be advertising.

What is the biggest risk youíve taken in your career?
Leaving my family in England at 18 to come to the U.S.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
Managing the transition for the Chicago Fire from Soldier Field to Toyota Park.

What is your biggest professional disappointment?
Not winning a championship with the Fire.

What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
I know this is trivial, but please call the baseball World Series something more appropriate!

This career spotlight is courtesy of the SportsBusiness Journal. CLICK HERE to visit their official website.

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