Manchester City Has Got A New Head Of Digital

TV and online exec Russell Stopford is the new head of digital for one of the world’s richest soccer clubs, Manchester City.

He is replacing former Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI) and Tiscali director Richard Ayers, who is leaving as planned after a year in the interim post.

“I’ve got a family in London and we thought it was important to have someone Manchester-based, so I happily filled the role till we could find the right person,” Ayers writes. “And now we have. Russell has an excellent pedigree.”

The pair previously worked at TV producer Magic Lantern, where Stopford was creative director. Stopford remains chairman of online production house Glow Labs.

Ayers retains a relationship with City as “digital playmaker”, working on digital business development, new products and innovation.

Under Ayers, City, whose owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan has spent an estimated £1 billion on the club since acquiring it in 2008, has turned previously paid digital content free and built out new video, mobile and location initiatives to ensure the business can build up fan relationships.

“It genuinely feels to me like a startup. We’re running as fast as we can, but under the umbrella of a very sensible ‘VC’,” Ayers told paidContent when I interviewed him in August 2011.