Chiefs fund Sportal’s dash for cash

The executives have bailed out struggling sports website Sportal. Their investment should keep it going for a month or so, during which time the company desperately needs to find about £5m to take it to profitability.

The CEO and finance director of Sportal, the struggling sports website, have rescued the company from its cash crisis for the moment. It is believed the money will keep Sportal going for about a month.

CEO Rob Hersov and finance director Manilo Marocco have baled Sportal out in a bid to convince investors such as 3i, Nomura and Europe@web of its long-term viability. Sportal spokesman Mark Thursfield would not say how much they had put in.

According to Thursfield, the money will give Sportal the breathing space it needs to land a big investment that would take it through to profitability. “Hersov and Morocco have dipped into their own pockets,” he said. “We needed to raise a bit of interim funding. It gives us time to make sure we secure exactly the right deal.”

Sportal is seeking new investors for the £5m it needs to take it to profitability, planned for the first half of 2002. Thursfield said its existing investors such as 3i were being “very supportive” and that he was “fairly confident” Sportal would secure the investment.

According to Thursfield, Sportal has not suffered as much as other content-based internet businesses from the downturn in internet advertising. “We haven’t really found it so,” he said. “Advertising is reasonably buoyant, and will be more buoyant when the future is cleared up.”

Sportal was set up about two-and-a-half years ago and runs websites for some of Europe’s top football teams such as AC Milan and Bayern Munich. It also operated the official website for Euro 2000. Thursfield said it had revenues of about $1m a month.