MEET THE TEAM
Matt Le Tissier
Matt became a Southampton legend during 16 years at his only professional club, winning eight England caps.
A technically-gifted attacking midfielder, Matt, nicknamed ‘Le God’ by Saints fans, is the club’s second-highest scorer with 209 goals and was voted PFA Young Player of the Year in 1990. He was the first midfielder to score 100 Premier League goals.
Matt was renowned for his penalty prowess, converting 47 of his 48 spot-kicks. He has been honoured by having a hospitality suite named after him at St Mary’s Stadium.
Since 2005, Matt has been a regular panelist on Sky Sports’ iconic Soccer Saturday show with Jeff Stelling and become a popular after-dinner speaker.
In 2012, he launched the MLT Natural Coaching Academy, where young players are encouraged to express themselves while having their talents honed by professional coaches to fulfil their natural potential.
Francis is another Southampton legend, spending the vast majority of his 20-year playing career at the South Coast club.
The former left-back remains a fans’ favourite thanks to his fully-committed performances, famously playing on with a broken arm! Hard-working, dependable and loyal are the traits he became synonymous with during his 389 outings for Saints.
Since retiring, Francis has underlined his passion for developing young talent. He has remained an integral part of Southampton through his work with the Saints Foundation and is also Head Coach and Director of the MLT Natural Coaching Academy.
Benali’s knowledge and experience of the game has earned him regular punditry work with the media, including Sky Sports, BT Sport and talkSPORT.
Francis has also earned national acclaim for his charity work. In 2014, he raised over £265,000 for Cancer Research through his Big Run – a grueling 1,000-mile charity run between every Premier League ground in just 21 consecutive days, averaging 45 miles per day.
Since joining the management team of Southampton FC in March 1999, James has held a number of senior roles in both football and cricket, having been the Commercial Director of both Watford FC and the world famous Edgbaston Cricket Ground.
James has also worked as a Product Manager for Nike and in 2012 was asked by 2011 ICC World cricketer of the Year Jonathan Trott to become his agent. Since then, he has negotiated a record bat sponsorship deal with global brand New Balance as well as negotiating the rights for Jonathan’s autobiography which is due out in September.
All of James’ roles have required engagement with playing staff and with now nearly 20 years’ worth of experience dealing with professional sportsmen, James has a detailed understanding of how to ensure any commercial deals need to be structured in a way that can work for both the player and respective brand.
Having been a partner in the sports and media practice of a global law firm, based in London, James has over 20 years’ experience in advising clients in the sports industry and, in particular, football. He has worked on deals involving some of the world’s best known footballers and their playing contracts, image rights, representation and endorsement deals. He has also advised various Premier League football clubs, sports governing bodies and global brands in connection with their commercial arrangements, including their own high-value sponsorship, endorsement and image rights deals. He has also advised the European football-governing body, UEFA, on a variety of their commercial matters.
He has written articles for a wide variety of sports publications and wrote the Media and Sponsorship section for a leading legal know-how website used by lawyers. He has been recommended in various leading lawyer guides and is a member of both the British Association of Sport and the Law and Business in Sport and Leisure.
James played football to semi-professional level and continues to play (albeit a little slower these days!). He is also an FA qualified football coach and has helped design and launch grassroots soccer academies in the United States.
John is a PR, Media and Communications consultant with 20 years’ experience of the sports media industry. After seven years as a newspaper journalist, covering regional, national and international sporting events, he moved into Public Relations.
As Head of Communications, he ran the media operation at West Bromwich Albion for over a decade. A major part of John’s wide-ranging brief was overseeing all media activity involving the first-team squad and Academy, including commercial and sponsorship appearances. John offered media and social media guidance for all playing staff, including media training, and has vast crisis management experience, having guided many players through troubled times in the spotlight.
With contacts at all levels of the game, John is well-respected throughout the sports media and communications industry.