The sport business community has united in mourning after news of the sudden death of SportBusiness Founding Editor Kevin Roberts, one of the sector’s most liked and admired professionals.
Kevin, who joined SportBusiness International as it was being created in 1996, played a key role throughout its 24-year history, originally editing the publication before a brief hiatus and then returning as Group Editorial Director in 2019.
An immensely well liked and personable member of the sport business community, Kevin was often seen at or hosting a number of major industry conferences, including the Global Soccer Awards, the IHT Sports Summit, Sportel and SportAccord.
As news of Kevin’s death broke, the industry came together in sharing memories of him. Current and former colleagues wrote messages, including Ben Speight, Adam Nelson, Matt Cutler, Richard Gillis, Andy Rice and Matthew Glendinning with current SportBusiness editor Ben Cronin tweeting: “A wonderful bloke who did things with style, panache and good humour. His love for sport (and Crystal Palace) shone through in his work, and he was the best conference moderator I saw.”
Others from across the sport business’ media community also shared their thoughts, with the likes of David Cushnan, James Emmett, Jon Rest, Mike Laflin, and Gerry Cox, while SportsPro’s Editor at Large Eoin Connolly described Kevin as “a terrific guy, unfailingly decent, helpful and friendly, and always brilliant company.”
The likes of World Rugby Head of Communications Dom Rumbles, The Jockey Club’s Head of Corporate Affairs Scott Bowers and Premiership Rugby Communications Director Paul Morgan shared their memories of working with Kevin over the years, while sports marketing veterans Patrick Nally and Michael Payne also commented, with Payne describing him as a “true pioneer” and Nally calling him a “kindred spirit”.
Outside of the media world, many within the wider sport business community came across Kevin, and Y Sport Managing Director Sally Hancock expressed her sadness at the news, explaining that he was “one of the absolute gents of sport business” and that they had only spoken two days prior. Two Circles co-founder Matt Rogan described it as a “real loss to our industry”, UK Athletics CEO Joanna Coates called him a “true trailblazer” and M&C Saatchi S&E Global CEO Steve Martin named him “one of the good guys”.
Alex Coulson, Managing Director of Sport Industry Group, added: “On behalf of Sport Industry Group and our team, we were devastated by yesterday’s news. Kevin was a leading light who set the blueprint for how sport business was covered, discussed and conducted but more importantly was a brilliant man who, as many have said, brightened every room he walked in and conversation he had. He had time for everyone and did it all with a brilliant sense of humour. He was a hugely influential figure in our sector and his memory will continue throughout the community.
“All of our thoughts are with his family, friends and our colleagues across the sector.”
Read SportBusiness's tribute to Roberts from those who knew him best here.