Sports Conference 2024

Date: Tuesday 20th February 2024
Time: 08:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Location: No.1 Circle Square , 3 Symphony Park, Oxford Road, Manchester, M1 7FS
Cost: £Free for members, £40 for non-members
Key Events
Member Event
Sports Industry

Brought to you by pro-manchester's Sports Committee, join us for pro-manchester's Sports Conference this February. We will be bringing industry experts to delve and cover a spectrum of sports-related themes.

From broadcasting, advertising and media rights to fan engagement, technology is playing an even bigger role in the sports industry than ever before. Hear from key professionals within the sports industry about the current challenges businesses are facing and the exciting future developments to keep fans engaged and incorporate AI.

Equality, diversity and inclusion in Sport was high on the agenda in the UK for 2023. In this discussion, we will hear from an esteemed panel as to how far we have come, the future landscape and aims for 2024 and the longer term and invite discussions from the member audience on this vital issue in Sport and beyond.



08.30am – 09.00am  Registration, Breakfast & Networking

09.00am – 09.05am Welcome by host David Broadbent – City in the Community

09.05am - 09.10am Welcome from sponsors Mills & Reeve - Carol Couse

09.10am – 10.00am Panel discussion - EDI in Sport

Rachael Somerset – Level

Carl Austin-Behan – LGBTQ+ Foundation

Dr Sarah Carrick – MMU

Sarah Attwood – Mills & Reeve

Fern Whelan – PFA

Lisa Pool – Women in Football


10.00am – 10.15am Comfort break


10.15am – 11.05am Panel discussion - Fan Engagement

Leanne Grindrod – Gateley

Pippa Nash – The Padel Club

Ed Abis – Dizplai

Gemma Avery – Fanfare Sport

Sam Foakes – LTA Tennis

Andrew Hicks – Coordinate Sport


11.05am – 11.20am Keynote speech from Michael Geary & Sam Dainty – City in the Community

11.20am – 11.25am Close by Sam Booth – pro-manchester

About the Speakers:

Lisa Pool Senior Commercial Manager - Women in Football

Lisa holds an LLB in Law from the University of Hertfordshire and completed her LPC at the College of Law. While not pursuing a legal career, she has amassed over 20 years of experience in the retail sector, focusing on developing commercial and marketing strategies to generate income across diverse categories. Throughout her career, Lisa has contributed to leading UK retailers like Argos, Currys, and Ryman, holding director roles in both retail and wholesale over the last decade.

Beyond her professional pursuits, Lisa has a lifelong passion for football, starting at age five and overcoming societal norms to join her local women’s team at twelve. Despite the challenge of transitioning from retail to football, Lisa seized the opportunity at Women in Football, supporting by her transition by undertaking an MSc in Sports Business and Management at Liverpool University.

Dr Sarah Carrick Senior Lecturer - Manchester Metropolitan University

Originally from Scotland, I completed my LLB in Law at the University of Stirling in 2014. After 6 months or so of travelling, I returned to complete my PhD and graduated in 2019. Having played handball at both national and international level, I’ve always had a keen interest in sports. My thesis explored the relationship between athlete image rights and taxation. As such, my research interests range from sports law to tax law and also to intellectual property law.  My current research is focussed on gender equality and equity in sport. Before joining Manchester Metropolitan University in June 2021, I was a lecturer at the University of Stirling for two years as well as teaching part-time at the University of Edinburgh.

Sarah Attwood Principal Associate - Mills & Reeve LLP

Sarah is a Principal Associate at Mills & Reeve, specialising in advising clubs and players on image rights deals and commercial sponsorship agreements. Sarah is a member of the global group Women in Sports Law and Pro-Manchester’s Sports Industry Steering Group. Sarah heads up The Equaliser, a bespoke sports law package to help support growth and level the playing field for women in sport. The Equaliser supports sportswomen at all levels from grassroots to elite athletes, sporting teams, governing bodies and brands investing in women’s sport.

Fern Whelan Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Women’s Football Executive - Professional Football Association
Dr Carl Austin-Behan OBE DL GM LGBTQ+ Community Ambassador – LGBT Foundation / Managing Director – VA Clean Ltd -

Dr Carl Austin-Behan OBE DL is a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester and former LGBT Advisor to the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham. Currently Greater Manchester’s LGBTQ+ Community Ambassador with LGBT Foundation This role sees him visiting schools, youth groups and workplaces to promote diversity, equality, inclusion and respect as well as working on projects with Community Action, Public Sector Liaison and LGBTQ+ Networks across GM.

Carl was one of the last people to be discharged from the RAF in 1997 due to his sexuality although having an exemplary service record. He  joined Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service in 1998 and left 1999, then went on to win Mr Gay UK 2001.

Having served on Manchester City Council representing Burnage from 2011 – 2018, was lead member for LGBT issues within the City Council. Carl was the first openly gay Lord Mayor of Manchester 2016 – 2017. Also owns his own Cleaning Company VA Clean – working with Property Management Companies specialising in the communal areas of apartment blocks.

Carl has devoted himself to LGBTQ+ advocacy. Ambassador for The Proud Trust, George House Trust, Broughton House; Patron of Contact Theatre, Manchester Pride chourus; Trustee for Fighting with Pride (LGBT veterans charity run by veterans. The first and only lived-experience charity addressing the health and wellbeing of LGBT+ veterans.) he passionately promotes diversity, equality and inclusion within our communities. Carl was awarded the OBE in the 2020 New Years Honours for services to charity and LGBTQ+ Equality & Inclusion.

In April 2019, his daughter Willow was born where Carl & his husband Simon are carrying out duel parenting with a lesbian couple.

November 2019, was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester and was awarded  the OBE in the 2020 Queens New Year’s Honours List for services to Charity and the LGBTQ+ Community.

Andrew Hicks Sports Technology and Business Advisor - Stack Sports & GameDay

Ex-Professional Golfer turned Sports Tech Professional, Andy is now regarded as one of Europe’s leading Sports Technology Advisors having worked across, Software, Broadcast Graphics, Fantasy Gaming, Digital and Fan Engagement.

Andy started his Sports Technology journey with Sportz Interactive, Asia’s leading Digital Agency, whose clients included, FIFA, UEFA, NBA, IPL and many more, he went on to have numerous advisory roles in the Sports Broadcast sector, working with the likes of European Tour and Euroleague Basketball before joining Stack Sports, the world’s largest Sports Software Company, founded out of the Dallas Cowboys by the Jerry Jones family where he acted for 5 years as their European Advisor.

Andy is now very excited to be joining Coordinate Sport as UK Managing Director, a leading Coaching and Administration platform serving thousands of clients across the Sports and Leisure sector. Andy also sits on the Board of England Futsal, an off-shoot of The FA, governing the Sport of Futsal across England.

Rachael Somerset Partner - Level

Rachael is a Partner at Level and is the first female Chair of the Pro Manchester Sports Committee. She is an experienced disputes lawyer across sport, media and entertainment with a specialist practice in defamation, privacy, media crisis and reputation management, which she has handled at the highest level for newsworthy clients against national and international media outlets. Whilst naturally most of her work is confidential, her work over the years has included advisory services to a broad range of clients including topflight professional footballers (PL, EFL, WSL), football and rugby clubs, sporting organisations and individuals and managers working across football, golf, boxing, athletics and rugby, well-known actors, musicians, newsworthy OBE and MBE recipients and individuals in official public roles. As part of her work, she has regularly considered and handled EDI and reputational issues in sport as part of her practice.

Leanne Grindrod Solicitor - Gateley

Leanne has commercial experience in the entire sports sphere, from football clubs, sports governing bodies, national and international sports organisations to athletes and leading sports brands. Leanne advises on drafting and negotiating a vast range of commercial agreements including merchandising, supply chain, technology and sponsorship agreements, working for both sports bodies and sponsors. She advises these organisations on how best to protect and exploit their valuable intellectual property as well as comply with data privacy regulations.

Ed Abis CEO - Dizplai

Ed Abis is the Managing Director of Dizplai, a cloud-based data display platform which supports production teams with the tools to deliver data-driven graphics live to air. Dizplai works with global broadcasters, sports properties, brands, and content creators to connect audiences through engaging formats. Ed developed his strong commercial and content strategy skills as the Marketing & Communications Manager for English Premier League’s Burnley FC. Using that experience, he has successfully delivered expansive partnership deals with global rights holders and brands over the years, while working for Nike, ITV, Manchester United, and Perform (now DAZN).

Gemma Avery Founder - Fanfare Sport

Fanfare has been established by Gemma Avery, whose career started in broadcasting in 2009 and moved in to football marketing at Burnley FC, Arsenal FC and Manchester FA. Gemma worked on freelance projects before starting Fanfare, including work for the Barclays FA WSL, Women’s Championship and Women’s National League.

Pippa Nash Head of Brand Marketing - The Padel Club

Pippa is Head of Brand Marketing at The Padel Club, the first club to launch Padel in the North-West. Padel is the UK’s most on-trend, emerging sport and has become sports players’ latest obsession – with interest, participation and demand for court time increasing exponentially. Pippa has been involved in the Club’s brand and marketing strategy since inception, rebranding The Padel Club and creating innovative and leading brand marketing since the Club launched in 2022.

Her experience in dining club membership marketing and building the tastecard brand from c£20m to c£140m in 4 years, then setting up her own business with contracts at luxury hotels, including Kimpton Hotels and in sports, Manchester United and the matchday VIP (luxury restaurant No. 7) and the Executive Club being the highlight for her. Pippa put her efforts into a MSC in Luxury Brand Marketing and developed an IPO protected app – during lockdown – during the investment process she met The Padel Club.

The success of The Padel Club has exceeded all expectations, the Club has Cheshire’s most in demand courts and is an influential padel brand in the UK. The Club attracts players of all skill and abilities, age and genders. The parity of Padel, makes the sport incredibly accessible due to the tactics and game play. The Club is developing Padel participation from beginner level to advanced; with elite athletes, ex and current, playing Padel at the Club.

Pippa’s brand marketing strategy has delivered collaborations with global sports teams and players, including Manchester United, Manchester Originals and Salford City FC and individual notable athletes in the sports of cricket, football, snow-boarding, ice skating, professional dancing and rugby. This strategy has built The Padel Club brand as an authority in the sport of Padel – substantiated by the experience of the CEO and Founder, Kristopher Ball, and the Head of Coach, Ben Goodeve, and as a team, delivering the highest standards of operations and coaching.

The Padel Club are proud, and humbled, to be awarded This Is Manchester’s Leading Newcomer for making an impact in Greater Manchester’s sports scene in 2023 and are looking forward to this year as Club 1 is extended to 8 courts and Club 2, with 11 courts at TraffordCity by end 2024. The Padel Club brand will have the most courts in the North.

Sam Foakes Head of Region - North - LTA

Originally from Cambridge and graduating from Loughborough University in 2007 in Sports Science and Physics, Sam competed at Elite level internationally in BMX Flatland, reaching World Number 1 in 2008. Following his competitive bike career,  Sam moved to Manchester in 2009 to work for British Cycling as a Community BMX Coach which led to a role managing the National Cycling Centre BMX facilities and programmes from 2011 onwards. Sam joined the Lawn Tennis Association in 2014 and is currently Head of Region, North, leading the delivery of the LTA business strategy locally alongside managing the regional team and key stakeholder relationships. Sam has been involved in Major Events Activation throughout his career in sport, leading the BMX World Cup, Manchester Trophy and most recently the Davis Cup activation working groups to maximise community and participation impact in conjunction with elite sports competition.

Interested In The Event?

If you’re interested in attending, you can book online here.

For any further enquires about this event, contact [email protected]

With thanks to our Partners: