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Appointment of Lang heralds new-look SIS

10 September 2013

WITH Ladbrokes TV soon to launch, business is booming at SIS’s Milton Keynes broadcasting base. ATR has already switched there, with Coral TV established some four years.

Heading the list of new staff is Richard Lang, formerly chief operating officer at Coral where he spent 25 years before leaving in January. He was an enthusiastic driver of the Coral TV project, which transformed the standard of broadcasting into betting shops.

Lang has been in place for just over a month as managing director, commerce & operations (SIS Betting), working alongside George Irvine, MD, betting & international (SIS Betting), the pair reporting to chief executive Gary Smith.

The departure of key staff such as Phil Siers and more recently Brent Dolan and Paul Ritchie – all to Betfred’s Totepool operation – has given an opportunity for a reappraisal and reorganisation Lang has replaced Dolan, and returning is a popular old face Terry Mahoney, who at one stage oversaw SIS international development, before moving to OpenBet.

Mahoney is back as part of the major account team that also involves Rachel O’Reilly and Nigel Boardman reporting to Lang, as does production director Jason Barker, who did such a cracking job for SIS integrating Betfred TV into Media City.

David Bradshaw, racing controller, has been handed additional responsibility, as has Helen Scott, head of customer services and Jim Proudfoot, who takes charge of SIS on-course staff and data-gathering. Debbie Bayley is race-planning executive.

The latter three report to Bradshaw, who in turn reports to Irvine.

Lang said: “It’s all bedding in nicely and there’s a fantastic team spirit here. The market is dynamic and customers’ expectations are higher than ever – our challenge is to deliver core content even better to them, and at the same time seek and develop new markets.

“I’d taken some time out after leaving Coral and looked at several possibilities, but joining SIS is a wonderful opportunity – and my task is to help the company kick on from here.”

SIS’s securing of the Irish racing contract and other long-term deals with the likes of Arena Racing Company and other jurisdictions – South Africa and South America for example – offers a three-year period of stability.

But Lang says it’s also about looking after the rights holders such as Arc, which controls some 40 per cent of the fixture list. He is keen to protect the long-term relationship.

“My background has involved exactly that, developing broadcasting rights for mutual benefit, previously being strategically involved with the ABB, 49’s, the Bags board [greyhound racing] all this prepares me for this new challenge,” he says.

“I will be looking at the ways we might develop our services, make them more flexible and appealing to our customers – perhaps through hand-held devices and self-service terminals, and also look at developing TV gantries and video wall solutions.”

SIS has Arc content, some other UK independent racecourses, Irish racing, greyhounds, 49’s and virtual, South America, Dubai and some US.

Rival TurfTV boasts the prestige Jockey Club Racecourses plus other leading tracks, some US and its own virtual.

Long-suffering independent bookmakers muddle through a disjointed service the best they can, but they would appreciate any technological advances that make things easier.

“My challenge,” explains Lang, “is to make a difference, engage with existing customers and rights holders and go out and find new business.

“It’s exciting for everyone with the launch of Ladbrokes TV approaching – and it will be fascinating to see what new ideas emerge there too.

“We will be working closely with all our customers who each have their own individual demands and service delivery requirements.”

Lang is the new boy but for Mahoney, who originally joined SIS in 1987, it’s back to the future.

“I left some eight years ago,” he said, “so there has been a lot of change, but I’m excited to be back – and there’s still plenty of familiar faces around, including of course George [Irvine].”

Irvine himself said: “I’m delighted with the new team, getting Richard aboard and Terry back.

“We’ve had a good year, for instance taking on the Sky contract for greyhound racing – with the fantastic reception that received from the sport.

“We’re proud of the way our Sky programmes have evolved, and the job now is to bring that sort of quality elsewhere, and especially internationally.

“In a sense it’s simple. Governments in general have come round to our way of thinking – and realised it’s better to have legal bookmakers paying tax.

“New markets are opening – we intend to exploit them.”

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