Howden’s reinsurance chair Elliot Richardson has sold Dugout, the European football media company which he co-founded in 2016, to a German digital media group.

Elliot Richardson, left, and Lucas von Cranach

Elliot Richardson, left, and Lucas von Cranach

 

Richardson – a prominent London market figure who was head of Benfield’s fac unit before a high-profile team move to Aon in 2006 – raised over £20mn to launch the business. 

The 48-year-old reinsurance broker utilised his sporting connections to persuade many of Europe’s largest football clubs – including Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain – to become founding shareholders. 

Initially launched as a B-C platform, Dugout capitalised on the growing demand for digital video content by swiftly pivoting to become a wholesaler of football-related media to publishers and holding the archive rights of over 125 clubs and federations. It has been described as the Getty Images of football, supplying content as varied as training clips, behind-the-scenes action and iconic match clips to large publishing brands such as Bild, Le Figaro and MailOnline using proprietary video technology.

This week, it was announced that German digital media group OneFootball GmbH has agreed to buy London-headquartered Dugout in a cash-and-stock deal.

The Berlin-based firm did not disclose acquisition terms but said it has raised €50mn ($60.6mn) to finance the cash element of the deal and the combined group’s expansion.

“Our ambition has been to become the ultimate destination for everything football, both on and off the pitch, and our acquisition of Dugout reflects this,” Lucas von Cranach, chief executive officer and founder of OneFootball, said in an interview.

“The clubs will speak with one voice in this venture,” Stefan Mennerich, director of media, digital and communication at Bayern Munich, explained. “OneFootball will be a relevant worldwide platform, partially owned by the clubs. It will be good to be not just a passenger on the train.”

Richardson will remain involved post-completion as chairman of the club supervisory board. But his primary focus remains the expansion of Howden’s reinsurance arm. In recent years, the UK broker has built its reinsurance arm to over 50 producers by hiring from rivals while also launching a supporting data and analytics arm led by David Flandro.

Approached by this publication, Richardson said tongue-in-cheek: “I launched a digital football media business to find something less glamorous than the Lloyd’s insurance market.”

He added: “The two industries are actually incredibly similar and it was an enormous privilege to work on this with so many great people and to stay involved. Post-transaction it will be great to see how the combined business re-shapes the football ecosystem.”

The Insurer comment

The London market has a rich tradition of polymaths with exotic side interests. Former Benfield boss and Capsicum Re founder Grahame “Chily” Chilton leads the UK motor racing team Carlin; reinsurance broker David Barrie doubles as a collected artist via his alter ego Piran Strange; Conduit Re supremo Neil Eckert is an expert in carbon trading; Gallagher Re chair Raja Balasuriya is a property mogul; former Beazley A&H head Chris Branch won an Oscar in 2014 for a documentary he co-produced and Richardson can now describe himself as a sporting digital rights entrepreneur…