Vancouver Whitecaps hire former AS Roma executive Mark Pannes as CEO

What happened: The Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Jan. 7 announced that a global search for a new CEO netted them former Italian Serie A club AS Roma executive Mark Pannes.

Why this matters: The hire is a major one at a time of rebuilding that follows the November announcement thatAxel Schuster — a former executive with German Bundesliga teams — would be the team’s sporting director.

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Pannes will report to the team’s ownership group, which includes Jeff Mallett, Steve Nash, Steve Luczo and Greg Kerfoot, and will oversee all business aspects of the club.

“My job is to focus on the business by building upon the foundation that already exists among fans, supporters, and partners, and accelerate our growth with the tremendous opportunity that is in front of our club,” Pannes said in a release.

For the past few years, Pannes has been managing partner at Union Sports, LLC — a private consultancy that advises domestic and international sports and media clients on how to develop sustainable revenue platforms, facilities and fanbases, according to the club.

He also spent six years with Italian Serie A club AS Roma, where he held positions including CEO, but also president of the club’s IP licensing business. He was also CEO and project lead for Stadio della Roma during the 2011-2016 timeframe.

Pannes between 2006 and 2011 was director of the global sports group at HSBC Private Bank, London, where he managed funds totaling USD$1.45 billion for more than 500 athletes and institutions in sports such as football, Formula 1 racing, rugby, tennis, golf and cricket; and events such as the Americas Cup and the Olympics.

He also spent 10 years with the New York Knicks, including three years as vice-president of marketing, when he oversaw all ticket and sponsorship revenue and brand management for the franchise.

“The club sold every ticket in his last nine seasons,” the Whitecaps noted in a release.

Pannes also launched the first team-directed HD game broadcasts and the Women’s National Basketball Association’s New York Liberty — a three-time league finalist — during his tenure in the 1990s, according to the club.

“Mark has been a leader of globally recognized sports organizations and will help our club continue to strive for excellence in everything we do,” Mallett said. “We have made clear our ambitions for this club to grow, highlighted with the addition of sporting director Axel Schuster and the investments being made in our first team roster.”


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