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BRITISH athletics spent more last night on one meeting than its total

annual sponsorship income just a few years ago.The Royal Mail Parcels

Games at Crystal Palace had a budget of #350,000 - yet five years ago

the sport could attract only #300,000 backing for a whole year.

The key to the change in fortunes is former European and Commonwealth

hurdles champion, Alan Pascoe, who has struck even more gold off the

track than on it.

Pascoe, at 41, is now one of the most powerful figures in the world of

sports sponsorship/marketing and personality management. His companies'

interests stretch far beyond athletics, embracing the 1990 Commonwealth

Games, 1994 World Cup, Cowes Week, the CBI, the 1992 Garden Festival,

and the management of many of Britain's best-known public faces.

APA, Alan Pascoe Associates, which he launched six years ago, have

just signed a new contract with British athletics giving him exclusive

marketing rights until the end of 1993.

It is a four-year extension to a five-year deal which was shortly due

to expire. When he won the original contract, Pascoe guaranteed to

provide #3m over five years. In fact, they raised nearly #10m. That

successful track record meant that they had to give no guarantees at all

when the contract was extended earlier this month.

''The success of our relationship with both sport and sponsors meant

we were re-appointed without a re-pitch,'' said Pascoe.

His involvement is now worldwide, far beyond the UK arena. The kid

from a Portsmouth council house is rapidly becoming an international


APA have an annual turnover which director of operations, John Perera,

says is in excess of #15m. ''When we began, in 1983, it was about #1m,''

he added.

They handle the affairs of the European Athletic Association,

marketing and selling the rights to the European championships, indoor

and out, and the Europa Cup - a pan-European market with backers such as

Swiss Timing, Coca Cola, IBM computers, and Thomas Cook. They also

represent the major sponsors in Britain of ice skating, swimming, and

table tennis. In London alone, Pascoe employs 42 people specialising in


West Nally, the company of which commentator Peter West was once head

and which controlled the rights for the 1982 World Cup, is now part of

Pascoe's expanding empire. Now called Pascoe Nally International, they

are the sponsorship consultants for the 1990 Commonwealth Games in


For all his high-profile, egocentric style, Robert Maxwell was unable

to prevent a financial debacle in Edinburgh three years ago, and

consequently candidates were not sprinting to raise cash for New


But Pascoe confirmed yesterday that PNI have already quietly raised

#20m for Auckland (Edinburgh raised less than #7m and many creditors

lost money.) They have signed up a list of blue-chip sponsors including

Auckland Savings Bank, Air New Zealand, British Petroleum, Dominion

Breweries, Kodak, NEC, New Zealand telecom, TV New Zealand and Unysis.

But the biggest advances which PNI have made include selling the

Commonwealth event to Japan - interests such as Nikon, Seiko, and

Toyota. And Pascoe revealed what he described as the major breakthrough:

''The imminent signing of a network TV contract with the USA.''

He confirmed that it has not been easy. ''In the US and Japanese

markets you have to start by telling them what the Commonwealth is, and

then describe the Commonwealth Games.''

A further Pascoe company, US Soccer Properties, has the exclusive

pre-marketing rights to the 1994 World Cup, i.e. everything that happens

before the tournament, but not the arena advertising during matches.

Another wholly-owned subsidiary, Baginall Harvey, is Britain's biggest

management company for media personalities, handling such as Michael

Aspel, Mike Smith, Sarah Kennedy, Richard Baker, David Coleman, Ron

Pickering, and Dickie Davies.

Pascoe confirms that athletics is still the biggest individual aspect

of APA's work. ''But because of the way we have diversified and spread,

the total group income is not dependent on APA or on athletics.'' He is

particularly happy that not only the shop window of athletics is being

backed. Companies like Dairy Crest, McVitie's, and the Post Office are

supporting junior, development as well as coaching programmes which are

not normally viewed as attractive options for potential sponsors.

''It has been a very exciting time to be involved in the sport,'' said

Pascoe. ''We took over when athletics was still controlled by amateur

rules, many of which dated back into the last century.''

But the one-time hurdler is just getting into his stride. If the

ambitious Pascoe gets his way, what has gone before is only the