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Dentsu Sports acquires 33.3% stake in American sports agency Athletes First

MUMBAI: Dentsu Sports, a subsidiary of advertising and media company Dentsu, has reached an agreement with California-based sports agency Athletes First to acquire a 33.3 per cent stake in the company.

Founded in 2001, Athletes First is a full-service agency which represents National Football League (NFL) players, NFL and college coaches, professional baseball players, individual athletes in other sports, and other sports-related clients, including broadcasters, with regard to individual contract negotiations, marketing/commercial endorsements, and other client services.

The firm’s core expertise involves the representation and management of athletes and coaches associated with the NFL, a sports league which boasts popularity and economic scale that is unparalleled even among the four major professional sports leagues in the U.S. Its championship game, the Super Bowl, holds nine out of the top ten rankings for the most watched television broadcasts in the US.

It has more NFL clients than any other privately-owned representation agency including the reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, as well as several other high-profile NFL players including Clay Matthews, Carson Palmer, Earl Thomas, Von Miller and Jamaal Charles.

The sports agency also represents ESPN broadcasters Steve Young, Ray Lewis and Trent Dilfer, as well as NFL head coaches Chip Kelly and Jason Garrett. Forbes Magazine lists Athletes First as the eighth most valuable sports agency in the world and the most valuable (tied) sports agency which focuses primarily on football.

The Dentsu Group has to date been involved in business with sales of marketing and broadcasting rights for professional sports leagues in the US. The investment in Athletes First will enable it to expand its array of services to its client base in terms of sports marketing and related endeavours in the country.