Anson spent two years on the bid (WFI)

(WFI) Former England 2018 World Cup bid chief Andy Anson is named as the new chief executive of UK-based sports retailer Kitbag.

It’s Anson’s first full-time post since England’s humiliating first-round elimination in FIFA’s vote for the 2018 host city last December. Russia won the rights to stage the competition.

Anson replaces Ray Evans at UK-based Kitbag, which is owned by home shopping group Findel. The company touts itself as “Europe’s leading sports online retailer”, offering the products from the biggest football brands on the planet such as Nike, Adidas, Puma and Umbro.

“I am excited to be joining Kitbag, which is a great business with a strong reputation and brand in exciting and rapidly evolving markets,” he was quoted by the Manchester Evening News. “I look forward to bringing my experience from the worlds of sport and business and working with the great team at Kitbag and Findel.”

Anson will draw on his previous experience as commercial director at Man Utd in his new role at Kitbag.

Kitbag, which manages web retail operations for clubs including Barcelona, Man Utd and Real Madrid, recorded revenues of £58 million ($93m) in 2010/11, an increase of nearly £10m on the previous year.

In its financial report for last year, Findel said Kitbag had made progress with company bosses saying they were looking to accelerate profitable growth.

Anson is charged with tackling the challenges identified, namely: Accelerating the roll-out of outsourced retail management to other football clubs; and developing the pipeline of new sporting partnerships.

Earlier this month, Kitbag struck an agreement to operate the new UEFA Champions League online store for Europe and Asia. It opened a new £1m City Store at Manchester City’s stadium last week.

But Findel chiefs are reportedly considering floating off Kitbag, a project that Anson would be heavily involved in.

Kitbag’s current best sellers include replica shirts of La Liga giants Barcelona, featuring the new Qatar Foundation sponsorship branding, retailing at £44.99 ($72) and Manchester United’s home jersey at the same price. Customers can also buy Nike T90 Laser III football boots, as worn by Wayne Rooney, and the latest adidas F50i TUNiT collection, the boot of choice for Barca superstar Lionel Messi.

After two years on the England 2018 bid, Anson was among the English football critics who lambasted FIFA for running a flawed bidding process. The 2018/2022 bid procedure gained worldwide attention last autumn when the cash-for-votes scandal broke. FIFA subsequently banned two Ex-Co members, Nigeria’s Amos Adamu and Tahiti’s Reynald Temarii before the Dec. 2 vote.

Anson blamed FIFA Ex-Co members for reneging on their promises to vote for England made in face-to-face meetings.

England 2018 bid officials believed they had an outstanding chance of winning 2018 hosting rights after emerging as the strongest candidate in FIFA’s evaluation reports on the four European bidders – competition came from Holland-Belgium, Spain-Portugal and Russia – and delivering a polished final presentation.

Bid chiefs felt FIFA president Sepp Blatter had a major hand in influencing Ex-Co members to reject England’s after British media allegations of corruption against FIFA rocked the governing body and damaged the president’s reputation. It was a Sunday Times expose that led to bans for Adamu and Temarii. A BBC Panorama documentary also made allegations of corruption against another three members.

Blatter responded by labelling England bid officials as “bad losers” for their angry reaction to Russia and Qatar being awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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