Major League Rugby has hired veteran sports executive Mark Yates as its new chief commercial officer.
Yates has over 25 years experience in advertising sales with most of his career at Fox Sports Southwest, where he led local and national sales for the largest regional sports network in the United States.
He will replace Jon Persch, who was appointed in the role in September 2019. Persch revealed in April that his position had been “eliminated” due to the financial uncertainties of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
MLR commissioner George Killebrew said: “I have worked with Mark for 20 years and he is the ultimate sponsorship professional and I’m happy to have him on the MLR team. His experience is a huge asset for our budding league and we’re already seeing his impact in new partnerships.”
The appointment of Yates is a key part a new sponsorship sales strategy for the start-up league.
This includes an agreement with sports sponsorship agency Maestroe Sports & Entertainment, which has been brought in to help the league develop new commercial partnerships.
Maestroe, which will work in tandem with Yates, specializes in developing or “high growth” sports properties, such as Beach Soccer Worldwide, the American Ultimate Disc League and the American Cornhole League.
“We knew that Maestroe was a perfect fit for MLR because of their experience with challenger leagues,” Killebrew added. “Maestroe’s lengthy history and success with start-up leagues made it clear that they’re qualified to find the right partners for our growing League.”
In March, MLR announced it had canceled the remainder of the 2020 season due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. The start-up domestic rugby union competition was just five weeks into its third campaign, with Killebrew as its new commissioner.