World Chess: Chris King is Agon Commercial Director
Chris King, the co-founder of executive search firm Sports Recruitment International, has been appointed commercial director of Agon Ltd, the rights-holder of the World Chess Championships. King, who will retain a board position and advisory role at Sports Recruitment International, will work on securing sponsors and distribution rights for the next World Chess Championships cycle which begins next March.
King will report to Agon chief executive and founder Andrew Paulson. “I’ve seen many opportunities in the sports and entertainment sector in the last 11 years, but this was just too good an opportunity to pass up," King said in a statement.
“I am enormously excited to work with Andrew and his focused team to help establish World Chess as a commercial proposition that can and should be in the same commercial league as poker and golf, for example.”
The Agon statement added that the organisation is already negotiating with potential partners in the technology, media, financial and industrial fields.
Agon has the rights to the World Chess Championships for the next 11 years in a deal struck with the World Chess Federation in February. According to King, there is no rival event and chess is currently an untapped sponsorship opportunity, though brands such as IBM and Intel have associated themselves with the game in the past on one-off occasions.
King said: "This is the first time a cycle has been put together and the first time we can give a marketing partner commitment and consistency."
The cycle consists of nine events that take place during a two-year period. It will start with a tournament in London later this month and includes events in Tashkent, Madrid, Paris and Berlin.
In London in March 2013 there will be a more important tournament, in which the world’s top players compete for the right to take on the reigning World Chess champion, India’s Viswanathan Anand, in the World Championship Match in November 2013.
Agon has an outline agreement with an undisclosed international broadcaster, which King described as "well-known in the UK and genuinely global", to broadcast highlights of games, which can last between three and six hours.