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As we exclusively reported in October last year, Michael Payne is to join the Formula One group as number two to Bernie Ecclestone. The 46-year-old Briton is one of the world's best known sports marketers, having started out in the business in the mid 1970s, when he began working in skiing. A professional freestyle ski champion in the 1970s, Payne began his marketing career in skiing and then move on to work with the pioneering sports marketing agency West Nally Ltd, which had been started in the 1960s by cricket commentator Peter West and businessman Patrick Nally. Payne was involved in deals in cricket and athletics and then the launch of the London Marathon. He moved on to the ISL marketing agency which at the time ran the marketing of the Olympic Games for the International Olympic Committee and started working on the Games in 1983. After the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988 Payne joined the IOC and became its first marketing director and created the marketing department of the organization. In this role he organized not only the sale of TV rights but also sponsorship, helping to build the Olympics into the huge operation it has now become. Payne continued in his role after Jacques Rogge replaced Juan Antonio Samaranch as IOC president in 2001 but in recent years is reported to be less than happy about changes within the organization.

The fact that Ecclestone has hired Payne is a major change in the Formula One company's history as it means that Ecclestone will be handing over some of his work to Payne and perhaps intending that Payne one day steps into his shoes as the head of F1's commercial activities.

Ecclestone (73) says that he has no intention to retire but the appointment of Payne is a step towards easing himself away from some of the responsibilities and preparing his organization for the future.

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