The Quarterly Interview # 35: John Barton

John Barton, originally from UK, is Director of Sponsorship Sales at TEAM Marketing, UEFA’s exclusive commercial agency for its club competitions.  He attended the first edition of the FIFA Master, 20 years ago, and since then, has forged an outstanding career in sport. Prior to taking the masters programme, he worked as a lawyer, in London, specialising in shipping litigation.  After the Masters, he worked at FIFA for one year in the Player’s Status Department, before joining the legal department at TEAM Marketing, where he spent three years negotiating media and sponsorship contracts.  In 2005, John moved to Sunderland FC as Club Secretary for one season before re-joining TEAM Marketing in 2006, where he has remained ever since.  From 2006 onwards, he spent a number of years working on the commercial event delivery of UEFA Champions League season matches and also UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions League Finals.  John gradually moved across into a more commercial role and for the last few years has worked on the sale of sponsorship rights for UEFA’s club competitions.

When John applied for the first edition of the programme, there wasn’t much information about it. He recalls: “I was very keen to move away from shipping litigation and had been looking into taking an MBA to help me achieve this.  I randomly saw a short article in the Sunday newspapers about a new sports programme that was starting in September 2000 and just managed to apply in time.  I figured that the course might be able to help me to move into an industry that I knew I would be passionate about”. And it couldn’t have worked better. John says that taking the FIFA Master was “absolutely vital” for his career. He explains: “it helped me achieve the objective of working in sport and, without it, I am not sure that I would have managed to do that.  In addition, I remember we had a 2-day session during the course on the key elements of media contracts and, without that knowledge, I don’t think I would have got a job in the legal department at TEAM”.

FMA Quarterly: What is your job like, as Director of Sponsorship Sales at TEAM Marketing?

John Barton: It consists of three main aspects - working with our internal strategy department and with UEFA to develop sponsorship concepts for UEFA’s club competitions, discussing those sponsorship opportunities with both incumbent partners and other brands in the market and, finally, reaching agreement with brands to become partners of the competitions and processing those deals on UEFA’s behalf.

FMAQ: What is the thing that you love about your job? And what is its biggest challenge?

JB: People working in the sports industry are usually very good to meet and share a passion for sport, so I really enjoy building relationships with the multiple stakeholders that we deal with.  The biggest challenge in my current role is that, just when you think you have a path towards completing the sales process, something happens that throws you off course - but that also keeps it interesting!

FMAQ: Which aspects of the FIFA Master helped you most inyour career?

JB: The FIFA Masters has a broad focus across the humanities, business and law relating to sport.  There are often a wide variety of interests and stakeholders to take into account when working in the industry (sporting, political, commercial etc) and I think that the Masters gives you a good appreciation and understanding of the various areas that need to be considered.

FMAQ: What are your fondest memories of the FIFA Master?

JB: I really enjoyed the last semester in Neuchatel, Switzerland.  By then, we all knew each other well and we had some really enjoyable nights out as a group in the lovely old town.

FMAQ: What advice would you give to the current (or future) students of the FIFA Master?

JB: Make the most of it from the first day to the last, as it goes very quickly.  Take the time to get to know all of your fellow classmates and learn from their experiences and backgrounds.  Also, fully engage in all of the topics that are covered in the course as you never know when they may come in useful later in your career. 



John Barton, British, Swiss

Director of Sponsorship Sales at TEAM Marketing

Married to Mirella, and father of Michael (16), Emma (13), Oliver (5) and Nina (2).

FIFA Master Class: 2001 

Favourite sport: I currently enjoy playing touch rugby, skiing and golf and I make time to watch international rugby.

Favourite team: Newcastle United

Favourite sports personality: At present, I would go for James Milner and Jordan Henderson at Liverpool, who are incredibly unselfish and drive a great team forward.

Favourite sports moment: England beating New Zealand in the 2019 Cricket World Cup Final – hours of tension and a sensational ending.