Edition 27 of the SportsBiz Spotlight sees us focus on MatchFit, the PR and and sponsorship agency specialising in the world of football. We sat down with co-founder, Donald Parish to learn more.
Tell us about the business? What does MatchFit do?
MatchFit is an award-winning and completely independent PR and sponsorship agency specialising in football. We’re deeply embedded in football culture, with clients including The FA, LiveScore, The EFL and one of the world’s biggest football clubs.
We help our clients use PR, sponsorship and content to connect with their audiences through the power of football, telling the stories that matter most to them.
We founded MatchFit in early 2019, but we consider June 2020 as the real kick-off, when we won our first game-changing client in LiveScore.
What’s the main purpose of the organisation?
Put simply, we are here to help our clients communicate with their audiences, whatever the challenge. And this means that no two days are ever the same!
We are as likely to be found running an event to launch a major new grassroots football campaign to media, as we are unveiling a big brand football sponsorship via a creative piece of content. Other clients in football come to us with a need to raise their profile within sport business media, whilst some even need specialist crisis communications advice.
Brands, clubs, rightholders and sponsors will always have a range of different communications objectives. We leverage our understanding of football and the media to ensure we hit those through strategic and creative PR and sponsorship activation.
If failure wasn’t a possibility, what would be your biggest ambition?
We aren’t about being the biggest, instead our vision is for MatchFit to be the best communications agency in world football. We want to be at the forefront of a new and exciting generation for the sport, one which can have a big impact in the world. As an example, this will be the decade that truly elevates women’s football alongside the men’s game, and we want to help everyone from the grassroots to the commercial world make the most of that.
What’s your USP?
Our expertise and specialism within football gives us a clear point of difference from competing PR and sponsorship agencies. We are indelibly linked to the game, and in constant dialogue with all sectors of the media about football. This laser focus has accelerated our growth and credibility within the industry.
Importantly, we are 100% independent. This gives us complete freedom to shape and define a unique remote-first culture which has made us a highly resilient and effective agency.
How many people work at MatchFit and what capacity? I.e. job roles etc.
2021 was an incredible year of growth, finishing with a talented team of eight. As Co-Founders, Will and I lead the vision and growth of the business whilst retaining the vital personal connection with our clients.
Our diverse team is drawn from a background of sports sponsorship, consumer PR, in-house Premier League football clubs and journalism, all united by a love of football and its power to move hearts and minds for our clients. This blend is vital as it ensures we benefit from a range of experience and perspective, no matter the client brief. The agency line-up includes a creative director, senior account director alongside the key account team.
Who are your clients?
Our clients span brands and rightsholders to clubs and services within football, with everything in-between.
Amongst our first big clients was LiveScore, one of the world’s leading real-time sports updates providers and brand partner for Cristiano Ronaldo. We also work with The FA across a number of workstreams including St George’s Park, Wembley Stadium, Let Girls Play and the Women’s FA Cup Final 2021.
For The EFL we help showcase their competitions and the impact across the 72 Football League clubs, as well as helping their commercial sponsorship partners such as eBay and Utilita.
At the risk of sounding mysterious, we can’t talk about all our clients unfortunately! However, we also work with one of the world’s biggest football clubs to help them meet new audiences outside of their core football media.
Who would be your dream client?
We are lucky to already work with some of our dream clients! Looking beyond this, we are passionate about both growing the game globally and using it as a true force for social good. With that in mind, we’d love to work with organisations outside of the UK to help advance and mature their communications and increase their profile on the world stage. With the FIFA World Cup coming to North America in 2026, we see a huge opportunity in this area.
Like many others in football, we’ve watched in awe as Marcus Rashford has used his personal profile and platform to drive genuine social change. It would be fantastic to work with other like-minded players across the women’s and men’s game to help them promote their own positive agenda.
What Has Been the Most Exciting Moment So Far?
Every call from a client confirming they want to work with MatchFit has been a truly humbling and exciting moment to be treasured. Recently we picked up our first award, named as ‘Breakthrough Agency of the Year’ at the UK Sponsorship Awards. We are also currently shortlisted as ‘Young Agency of the Year’ and ‘Agency of the Year’ at the Sport Industry Awards and Football Business Awards.
How can people connect with MatchFit? What’s your website and socials?
We always love to hear from people, whether it is a potential client or someone interested in working or collaborating with MatchFit. The best place to start is our website at www.matchfit.biz – although we are also on LinkedIn and (very recently!) on Twitter @MatchFit_agency.
Thank you to Donald for sitting down with us to share the MatchFit journey so far and all they have achieved. If you would like to feature your sports based business or know of an organisation you would like to see feature on SportsBiz Spotlight, get in touch.