March 10, 2017 / 11:08 AM / 5 months ago

Formula One makes commercial appointments

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One has appointed global heads for sponsorship and research as it accelerates into a new era under U.S.-based Liberty Media following the departure of Bernie Ecclestone.

It said in a statement on Friday that former ESPN executive Murray Barnett would join from World Rugby, where he was chief commercial officer, in April as global head of sponsorship and commercial partnerships.

Matthew Roberts starts in June as global head of research, joining from Sky television where he led the sports insight division. He also worked previously for ESPN and BT Sport.

Commercial managing director Sean Bratches said the appointments marked "an important next step in the evolution of the sport.

"There is enormous interest among global brands to align themselves with Formula One and Murray is well suited to lead this division, supporting our incumbent partners and broadening the number of sponsors.

"Likewise, we are pivoting to a research driven platform that will inform decisions across the company and there is no one better to lead us in that endeavour than Matt."

Liberty Media completed their takeover in January, with 86-year-old Ecclestone moved aside in an as-yet undefined "emeritus" role.

Ecclestone was famously controlling of all aspects of Formula One's commercial affairs, from sponsorship deals to circuit contracts, and did not have a spokesman or marketing operation.

Formula One, which last month appointed a director of global communications, will also move into new premises in central London later this year.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Alison Williams

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