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Simon Greenberg, ex-News Corp global head of rights, dies aged 52

Simon Greenberg at 2016 World Rugby Conference & Exhibition (Photo by Jordan Mansfield - World Rugby via Getty Images/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Tributes have been paid to Simon Greenberg, former global head of rights at News Corp, who has passed away at the age of 52.

Greenberg died earlier this week of complications from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, as reported in an obituary published by The Times this morning.

He is best known in the sports business industry for his seven-year spell as global head of rights at News Corp, where he headed up the acquisition of short-form clip rights. He was last year appointed as head of international, business and corporate development at The Athletic.

However, he started his career as a sports journalist and made his name at The Mail on Sunday in early 1995 when reporting on the agent payment received by George Graham that led to the then Arsenal manager losing his job.

Greenberg went on to become the sports editor at the Evening Standard and then communications and public affairs director at Chelsea from 2004 to 2009, before a brief spell as chief of staff at England’s ill-fated 2018 Fifa World Cup bid team. He joined News International (now News UK) as director of corporate affairs in 2011 as the News Corp subsidiary continued to tackle the aftermath of the phone-hacking scandal.

While at News Corp, Greenberg also headed up the Dow Jones Sports Intelligence division. In 2018, Greenberg became a board member at the Southeast Asian business of Dugout, the digital media platform backed by top European soccer clubs, upon News Corp’s sale of the BallBall digital video football service.

Reacting to the news of Greenberg’s passing, Aki Mandhar, general manager of The Athletic UK, said: “We are devastated about Simon Greenberg’s passing. He was a gifted colleague and made an indelible impact on The Athletic. We are grateful Simon chose to share his incredible talents with our team and we will miss him immensely.”

Matt Lawton, chief sports correspondent at The Times, which is published by News UK, said on Twitter this morning: “Desperately sad news this. Simon took on some challenging roles after an impressive stint as a journalist but he was a devoted family man and someone I certainly had a lot of time for.”

Rob Draper, chief football writer at The Mail on Sunday, tweeted: “Simon Greenberg broke the mould with his George Graham bung story + paved way for much of today’s sports news reporting. He was just 25 at the time, a fine colleague, dispensing advice + support as I tried to follow in his wake. Desperately sad to hear of his death at age of 52.”

Citing the obituary in The Times, Ben Wells, chief commercial officer at PTI Digital, said: “A fitting tribute to my old @ChelseaFC colleague. Taken far too soon by a brutal illness. Thoughts with all those near and dear to him. RIP Simon.”

Paul Kelso, business correspondent at Sky News and previously chief sports reporter at The Daily Telegraph, wrote on Twitter: “So sorry to hear this. Simon was the most charismatic man you could hope to meet & seemed to run to his own rules. Every meeting memorable, usually provocative, smart, funny and a *superb* gossip. Thoughts with his family.”