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People on the move: NEC Group, Aston Villa and more

Featured image credit: NEC Group

Featured image credit: NEC Group

The NEC Group has named Melanie Smith as its new chief executive.

Smith (pictured) replaces Paul Thandi, who has moved to the position of chairman after nearly 17 years as chief executive. Smith will work closely with the NEC Group board and majority shareholder Blackstone to implement the business’ vision across a venue portfolio that includes the NEC and ICC Birmingham, Vox Conference Venue, Utilita Arena Birmingham and Resorts World Arena.

Smith most recently served as chief executive of Ocado Retail, the online grocer and retail company. She previously held senior positions at Marks & Spencer, Bupa, TalkTalk and McKinsey & Co.

Staying in Birmingham, Premier League football club Aston Villa has appointed Ron Erskine as its new chief commercial officer.

Erskine has previously worked at global sports marketing agency Octagon, as well as the NBA, Major League Soccer team New York Red Bulls, and most recently CSM Sport and Entertainment where he was responsible for the commercial programmes at the US Open tennis tournament and the WTA Tour.

Villa has also named Ben Hatton as its chief operating officer. Hatton spent 10 years at Manchester United, AS Roma and most recently Blackpool.

Richard Stevens has also been appointed as Villa’s vice-president of strategy and analytics, while Ryan Disdier joins as vice-president of content and digital. Stevens joins from global mobility app Free Now, while Disdier has previously worked with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards, as well as the NFL’s Washington Commanders.

Villa has also confirmed that Ahmed Elmohamady, a club ambassador and former player, is working closely with the commercial department in a full-time capacity.

Liam Boylan has announced that he will be stepping down as stadium director at Wembley after almost nine years at the venue.

Boylan joined Wembley in January 2015 as head of events before becoming general manager in December 2016. He took up his current role of stadium director in July 2020.

Read our story from last week for full details.

Amy Trynka has been promoted to the role of ticketing and venue strategy lead at Premier League club Arsenal.

Trynka has held a series of positions at the club since joining its graduate programme in 2017. She most recently held the role of senior ticketing and strategy manager.

Sherelle Bartholomew has been promoted to ticketing and customer relations manager for the northwest at The Jockey Club.

Bartholomew has held the positions of senior ticketing/customer relations executive and regional ticketing and membership executive during her five years with the organisation.

David Haggerty has been re-elected as president of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) ahead of Dietloff von Arnim.

Haggerty received 72.94% of the votes and the American will now serve another four-year term from 2023 to 2027. Hagerty, who has served as president since 2015, received 318 of the 436 votes cast at the ITF’s annual general meeting yesterday (Sunday).

USL Championship club Hartford Athletic has appointed Nick Sakiewicz, the former chief business officer of the Arizona Coyotes NHL team, as its new chief executive.

A former professional goalkeeper, Sakiewicz joined MLS as a founding executive in 1995 and helped launch the league as its first vice-president of commercial sponsorship sales. He later went on to serve as president and general manager of MLS teams in Tampa and New York, and played a key role in the sale of the NY/NJ MetroStars to Red Bull, a deal that included the sale of naming rights to Red Bull Arena.

Do you have news of an appointment that we should know about? Get in touch by emailing news.editor@thestadiumbusiness.com and we’ll include it in our next round-up.