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Advertising Space

Duration:
27 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 11 May 2011

John Waite investigates a businessman who has been selling perimeter advertising at televised rugby league and cricket matches to charities and companies. The problem is they have not got everything they paid for missing match tickets, hospitality that never happened, charity auctions that went AWOL and advertising hoardings that didn't go up. The programme reveals how a well-known sports star has had his name and photo used without his knowledge in a sales pitch to prospective clients and how a 'unique' opportunity sold to one charity has actually been sold to several others.

  • Transcript

    THIS TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT. BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF MISHEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY IN SOME CASES OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS COMPLETE ACCURACY.

    Face the Facts: Advertising Space

    Waite
    Today we're pitchside on the trail of a businessman called Paul Faires whose rather un-sportsman-like behaviour has been leaving charities tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket. He promises to promote them at televised sports events. But all too often there's little to see.

    Clips
    To have someone take money from me, tell me a pack of lies as it appears to be, it makes you wonder what sort of person wants to take money from a charity where the charity is making such a difference in people's lives.

    We do expect to get what we paid for and if we don't then we want our supporters' money back so that we can spend it on our core business which is saving lives at sea.

    Waite
    Although he likes payment up-front, this is a man who's left suppliers owed thousands and charities and businesses too, out of pocket and out of patience - over missing match tickets, hospitality that never happened, charity auctions that went AWOL and advertising hoardings that didn't go up. For a man in the sports business, it seems, he has little sense of fair play.

    Tannoy
    Ladies and gentleman, may we have your attention please?

    Waite
    For nearly 20 years Elaine Tozer has been running a charity on the Isle of Wight called Dream Holidays which does exactly that - provides holidays for children with cystic fibrosis and for their parents too - parents perhaps who couldn't afford a holiday otherwise. Elaine was inspired because one of her own close family members has cystic fibrosis and she knows that a family break can bring immense benefits to the youngsters involved.

    Tozer
    I have some lovely, lovely letters and phone calls from the families really thanking us, saying how much they came back regenerated after their holiday.

    Waite
    Elaine's charity provides short holidays for around a 120 families a year. She'd like to help more families so a phone call which came out of the blue two years ago seemed to offer an opportunity too good to turn down. A man called Paul Faires was promising - for just £7,000 - a blaze of publicity.

    Tozer
    Our banner was going to be up in at least 15 Rugby League matches, including some quite big ones, it was going to be on the television, it was going to be on Sky Sports, we were being offered VIP tickets at the final at Old Trafford, we were offered an auction as well. I believe that there were going to be about 800 people at the VIP celebration when we were having the auction and I thought that we would make quite a lot of money out of this to be honest... for the charity.

    Waite
    Of course. Because I mean £7,000 that's quite a lot, that's around 4% of your charity income.

    Tozer
    It's a lot of money.

    Waite
    And there might be some people who wonder why a small charity would spend such a lot of money on advertising.

    Tozer
    I can understand that and it's something we have never done before, we just felt that this was too good an opportunity to miss.

    Waite
    So what actually happened?

    Tozer
    I had a few e-mails showing pictures of our banner up at - I think it was about three matches and then we didn't hear any more from them. And we chased them, we telephoned them, we wrote to them - the time was getting closer and closer for the VIP celebration. We had offered the tickets to various people who had supported us in the hope that that would help them to support us a bit more. It was devastating - just so embarrassing to have to tell one of your best donors - I'm sorry the tickets that we've offered you are no longer there, this company has just totally let us down.

    Waite
    The only explanation from Paul Faires for that 'total let down' was a brief e-mail saying the charity's VIP tickets had been "switched" to a "different" event - an event which Elaine heard nothing more about.

    Mr Faires described himself on this occasion as the "European Marketing Director at RugbyLeague dot com". That, by the way, is a website which has nothing to do with the official Rugby Football League. And it's not the only business through which Mr Faires has been selling sports advertising.

    Music

    Since its start in 2006, Paul Faires has been one of two directors of 'World Sports Corporation Limited', which would buy up advertising space at sports grounds and then sell the offer of perimeter advertising hoardings at televised games mostly to companies but also to charities. The business appears to have got off to a decent start, with accounts for the first year of trading showing it had funds of just over £56,000. But a year later it was in the red to the tune of more than a quarter of a million pounds. And for the company's finances things only got worse, with a string of four county court judgements made against it, including a judgement in favour of St Helen's Rugby Football Club stating:

    Judgement [Read]
    "Payment for the 2009 season advertising boards has not been completed, leaving an outstanding balance of £2,425."

    Despite those court judgements, World Sports Corporation still didn't pay up. Yet it kept on trading, signing up new clients promising not just advertising but also VIP tickets with corporate hospitality. And not just for rugby matches but for cricket matches too.

    Clarke
    My name's Jayne Clarke, I'm the spokesperson for Bettor dot com, which is a social betting exchange, so people can go onto our website and bet - they can back something or lay something. We were looking to increase our exposure within certain sports and cricket was one of them. It was a great deal - £10,000 for banners at all these different cricket events and great exposure. So we looked into exactly what they had to offer and calculated it - how much TV coverage they could potentially get - and yeah we signed up.

    Waite
    And having 'signed up', Jayne was to have dealings with the other director of World Sports Corporation Limited.

    Clarke
    We spoke to somebody, this guy called Adam Wheatley.

    Waite
    Mr Wheatley was checking details of Bettor's payment. Rather a humble task for, in the cricketing world, such a well-connected man. Because Adam Wheatley runs another business, Mission Sports Management Limited, which boasts Sir Ian Botham as chairman. Mr Wheatley you see is a sports agent, representing the England batsman, Kevin Pietersen among others. So with that pedigree, surely there'd be no problems with advertising signs and VIP tickets for some of England's finest cricket grounds.

    Clarke
    Tickets didn't come through for the hospitality event at the Twenty 20 finals and I think that was, yeah, we realised there was something wrong, I couldn't get hold of anybody. Then I tried Adam Wheatley and his receptionist wouldn't put me through, then I started to panic and got hold of a girl in France saying that we would not be able to provide you with tickets this year, so then I started to go a bit mad, then she said that she would be able to actually provide them and there had been a mistake.

    Waite
    Did you go to the event?

    Clarke
    I did and...

    Waite
    Tell me about that.

    Clarke
    ... and we were supposed to have banners up there and that's when I realised there was nothing. And then I started talking to all the guests who were in the same area, there must have been about 10 tables of 10 there and certainly on our table we were with another company and she mentioned that she thinks they had one banner up but they had had no other banners that she knew of up. This was a major topic of conversation of that day.

    Waite
    Long faces I take it?

    Clarke
    Angry, everybody was angry and worried because everybody had been put in an awkward position in their company.

    Waite
    Jayne had ended up speaking to a woman in France because that's where Paul Faires is based. Back in Britain, Jayne's company had parted with £10,000 for adverts that would be on rotating hoardings at 11 televised domestic cricket matches, an England One Day International and that Twenty 20 Finals day last August at the Rosebowl - the home of Hampshire County Cricket Club. As for those VIP tickets? Well they were supposed to be complimentary. So Jayne believes her company got nothing for its money. Bad enough for a business but for small charities - like Elaine Tozer's Dream Holidays - not getting all the advertising signs she'd spent £7,000 on - is even more troubling.

    Tozer
    Had we spent it directly on the holidays we could have helped at least seven families with a well deserved respite holiday. I'm absolutely horrified that people can do this to a charity.

    Waite
    Well, we've found Elaine's missing signage. Not at a sports ground but at a warehouse in Greater Manchester. And that's not all we found.

    Capper
    Yeah these are the machines here in storage, as you can see they've not been used for a good while.

    Waite.
    Step forward Steve Capper, whose job it was to print the signs and put them up at sports grounds around the country. But after even he had not been paid he felt he had no choice but to down tools and hold on to the equipment.

    Capper
    These are rotating - portable rotating advertising machines, what can be took from stadium to stadium, put up at the side of pitches. These were the machines that belong to Paul Faires. They're stuck here now because Paul Faires hasn't paid me and they're not going anywhere till I've got some money off him.

    Waite
    Mr Capper, a former semi-professional rugby league player, told us he would invoice World Sports Corporation each month and get paid. But then payments started falling behind.

    Capper
    At the end we was owed £49,000. It went backwards and forwards and then they made me an offer that they wanted me to carry on working for him and he'd pay me a £20,000 full and final settlement if I worked for them. When he owed me 49,000 quid I totally refused.

    Waite
    And that's why - Steve Capper says - he held on to those rotating ad machines. Held on, too, to the signs he made. Mr Faires says he's considering legal action to get them returned and Mr Capper concedes holding on to the signs might have made things more difficult for customers, among them Elaine Tozer, because one of the signs was hers - for Dream Holidays. Not that she knew anything of all this - Paul Faires didn't contact her about any difficulties. Was a replacement sign printed? If so, she didn't get any photos, hearing nothing more from Mr Faires for seven months. Meanwhile new clients were being approached, and offered entry into the wonderful world of outdoor advertising.

    Baker
    Outdoor advertising is quite a large catch all expression for all sorts of advertising which happens broadly out of home.

    Waite
    Mike Baker is chief executive of the trade body the Outdoor Media Centre whose members arrange adverts on everything from billboards and bus shelters to shopping centres and gyms.

    Baker
    It's quite a big industry, it represents about a billion pounds of advertising revenue each year, which places us roughly 10% of the total advertising medium.

    Waite
    Is it possible, Mike, to say what proportion of the outdoor advertising industry would be perimeter advertising at sports grounds?

    Baker
    It's certainly a growing sector, I think more sport is televised these days. You can generate a higher fee for televised events than you can for just the regular non-televised ones. Effectively you're reaching an audience of generally male, generally young people and you can obviously count in terms of the number of people who go through the gates the absolute number of people you're reaching. With the televised events potentially that might be 10 fold or 20 fold in terms of the total reach of the audience.

    Music

    Waite
    Last year, World Sports Corporation went into compulsory liquidation after its landlords - claiming unpaid rent - got a winding up order against it. So how does its co-director, Adam Wheatley - the man who represents some of the most respected names in British sport - account for his company's less than respectable performance? He declined to be interviewed, but told us his role had been simply to arrange the position of signs at the Rosebowl in Hampshire and organise speakers for question and answer sessions at cricket matches. He says he was asked to call Jayne Clarke at Bettor because they were chasing tickets and confirmation of payment received, adding:

    Wheatley [Read]
    I did not have any day-to-day dealings in the business or in contacting advertisers that took hospitality. I was not based in the World Sports Corporation office and therefore would not be aware of any county court judgements that may have been issued. No doubt Paul Faires will be able to give you more details.

    Waite
    And there certainly are details which Mr Faires could supply. Because we've discovered he's been trading on the good name of one of his co-director's most famous sports clients while striking deals for other companies based abroad with which he, Mr. Faires, is involved. And caught up in it all was one of Britain's best-loved charities.

    Music

    The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has, since 1824, depended on voluntary donations to keep it going. To help maintain its profile the charity agreed to advertise after being approached by Paul Faires last February wearing his World Sports Corporation hat. The e-mail he sent had a prominent World Sports Corporation logo on the top and at the bottom something else rather eye catching…

    Cullen
    The e-mail is actually finished off with a photograph of Ian Botham saying something like we can't wait to work with you at World Sports Corp.

    Waite
    In fact the precise quote apparently from Sir Ian Botham is: "I look forward to seeing you with World Sports".

    Surprising because there's no suggestion that Sir Ian had any knowledge that he was being used in this way by Paul Faires. Ian Botham's agent - and Mr Faires' co-director, Adam Wheatley - told us:

    Agent [Read]
    I was certainly not aware, nor saw or authorised any form of endorsement by Sir Ian Botham for any World Sports Corporation event

    Waite
    But Paul Faires' sales pitch impressed the RNLI and it signed up. Paying £10,000 for perimeter signs at 20 cricket matches, including some England internationals; complimentary VIP invites plus an auction of sporting memorabilia in aid of the charity. However, by the time of the invoice things had slightly changed.

    Cullen
    The initial e-mails came from Paul, as European Marketing Director of World Sports Corp, but because what he was offering us were signs at cricket matches actually the agreement that came through was with World Cricket Corp.

    Waite
    And payment was duly made direct to the British bank account of World Cricket Corporation, which actually turns out to be based, offshore, in Gibraltar. Once again the charity paid for signs it didn't receive. Unlike the other charities featuring in today's programme, however, the RNLI did get a charity auction with free tickets to a lunch thrown in.

    Cullen
    The actual lunch wasn't as well attended as we were sort of led to believe it would be, we expected it to be quite a big affair but I think there was possibly about 60 people there, rather than the 300 Paul had mentioned would be there. And so the auction went relatively well but in terms of outcome for the RNLI we were - we were told it would be about £800.

    Waite
    Eight hundred pounds that almost a year later, the RNLI has yet to receive. The auction was organised on behalf of Paul Faires by another company Champions of Sport Limited - a company Mr Faires told us he has worked closely with for over 10 years and which has raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity. The company is run by Peter Banner. So, we asked him, what happened? The auction made a resounding loss, he said. The £800 mentioned - a donation from his own pocket that he intends to make.

    YouTube actuality

    A posting on You Tube about the work of Mission Direct - a charity which works with some of the world's poorest people. Its chief executive is Nigel Hyde.

    Hyde
    Mission Direct enables people to use their holiday time for good, so it enables you to volunteer for two weeks, go overseas and build schools and clinics and homes for people who are just living in the most dreadful circumstances. So in Africa we're in six countries, in Zambia last year we built four schools and so you just see these children's lives totally transformed because they're being taught under mango trees and we're able to give them some facilities.

    Waite
    Important work which needs every penny of the charity's money to be well spent. All the more reason then why Nigel Hyde should be dismayed by the advertising 'deal' that he got from Paul Faires.

    Talk me through what you did and you didn't get last year. You were promised an advert on the website, did you get that?

    Hyde
    Yes we got the advert on the website, it's like a banner.

    Waite
    Now you were promised perimeter advertising signs at 15 televised rugby league matches - 2010, 2011 - did you get that?

    Hyde
    We haven't had one to my knowledge.

    Waite
    You were promised VIP tickets to the super league final at Old Trafford, did you get those?

    Hyde
    No, not seen any of those.

    Waite
    And the charity auction, did you get that?

    Hyde
    No.

    Waite
    Despite that list of disappointments from last year, Nigel Hyde stayed in touch with Paul Faires in the hope that he'd finally get something for the £6,000 his charity had paid over to yet another foreign company, this one based in France. What he's got in return is an on-going stream of promises. In an e-mail Paul Faires has apologised for the "terrible service" as he puts it, adding: "please rest assured we are now on the ball and will over deliver for you". So we decided to test what Mr Faires means by "over deliver" - checking up on the perimeter advertising at the first five rugby league fixtures promised to Mission Direct this year.

    Tannoy announcement
    Welcome to the South Leeds Stadium, beaming out worldwide on Sky Sports.

    Waite
    I've come to the South Leeds Stadium, home of the rugby league side the Hunslet Hawks. Tonight they're taking on their neighbours - the Dewsbury Rams - in a cooperative championship match being televised - as the commentator keeps saying - worldwide on Sky Sports. There's a crowd of about a thousand here, it's rather a cold night but there's some pretty lively rugby going on but it's not though the match that I've come to see, but the advertising hoardings and the advert that I'm looking for is nowhere to be found.

    It's an advert for Mission Direct, and, as the chief executive for Hunslet Hawks, Alan Stephenson, told me it's nowhere to be found for one simple reason:

    Stephenson
    Monies weren't forthcoming when they should have been so we've cancelled the deal.

    Waite
    Five months before the match, Paul Faires had offered enough cash to persuade Mr Stephenson to let him fill his stadium with perimeter advertising. But, surprise, surprise, a matter of days before the fixture, and despite repeated reminders to Mr Faires, the money still hadn't come through.

    Stephenson
    We always have our money problems as a small rugby club as all small clubs do but this rather big opportunity to make some money from advertising through our Sky game, there's a possibility we may get another game but certainly not guaranteed, and if we don't get the other game then that's our full opportunity for the season gone and there'll be no income from TV advertising on Sky at all. To a club like us it's a massive blow, definitely. I'm not saying we won't overcome it we'll have to overcome it but it's certainly going to make it a lot harder now.

    Waite
    Paul Faires says he intended to pay Hunslet Hawks but when they told him they'd be cancelling the deal and going with someone else if he did not pay up that same day he "took exception" to the club's attitude and he says he told them if they had a better offer they should take it. Mr Faires' failure to pay though meant it was too late for Hunslet to get another advertiser on board. So what about the other rugby games where signs were promised to Mission Direct this year?

    Two of the five promised fixtures were at the home of the super-league side, the Huddersfield Giants. Odd that because they told us, following repeated warnings, they had terminated the contract. Once again Mr Faires has told us he intended to pay but the matter was taken out of his hands by "the unilateral decision by Huddersfield to go elsewhere".

    Indeed of those five matches Mission Direct had been told to expect at the start of this year, we're only aware of one where Mr Faires has actually paid for advertising space and displayed their sign. A performance that doesn't seem to match up to his boast he'd "over deliver", more like he'd over promised and under delivered. He was also rather economical with the truth in his sales pitch to Nigel Hyde when he assured him that this was a special - indeed philanthropic - deal. All Mr Faires would charge for was the cost of getting the signs made. The advertising space at the grounds had already been paid for by a previous client, he said - LDV Vans - which had gone bust.

    Hyde
    He said literally, it's a no brainer really, for £6,255 was only for the boards. You see he makes his profit from all the other commercial deals that he's got. His sell to us was that it was to help Mission Direct in its goals because he really appreciated the work that we did and it was a tremendous opportunity. So from my perspective no money was in any way to be going towards Paul's profitability or overheads or anything else because he said he could sell on the LDV Vans opportunity.

    Waite
    But that LDV Vans "opportunity" has been sold to other clients because the same sales pitch was used for every charity we've mentioned in the programme. And we haven't been able to find any evidence of the agreement Mr Faires said he had with LDV Vans.

    Hydge
    To find that I am promised a unique situation to then learn later that others have been promised the exact same unique situation is frankly totally unacceptable. I am absolutely staggered that someone could make up a story such as appears to have been made up and sell it to someone like us with such convincing passion, care about us and so on and yet take the money and deliver nothing.

    Waite
    Except in recent weeks Mission Direct has had an advert up. In fact since we contacted Mr Faires to inform him of this broadcast, the charity has had not one but two signs on display. Incidentally, the RNLI also had an advert up at a rugby match. According to the letter we received from his solicitor, Mr Faires has extended the contract with Mission Direct to the end of 2012 once again for both rugby and cricket matches, together with VIP hospitality, website advertising and a charity auction.

    Mr Faires has also since been in touch with Elaine Tozer at Dream Holidays. Her contract has also been extended for another year.

    The RNLI has not got the straightforward refund it's been seeking for nearly a year now but it has got the promise of another charity auction. This time Mr Faires says he'll cover any shortfall between the proceeds raised and what the RNLI originally paid him for their signs. Compensation of a sort which has now also been promised to the other charities we've mentioned.

    Turning to World Sports Corporation Limited, Mr Faires says he pumped his own money in to try to save it but was unable to do so because:

    Faires [Read]
    The company entrusted with the job of collecting funds due to World Sports Corporation absconded with the substantial amount of money they had managed to collect.

    Waite
    But in the letter from his lawyer, Mr Faires omitted to answer some rather important points. Like his sales pitch involving that 'previous client' LDV Vans - where's the evidence it was a client? And what about that unique offer - that "no brainer"- which convinced Mission Direct to part with £6,000 - an offer which actually was sold several times over? So we gave him a call…

    Faires voicemail
    Hello, please note I'm on vacation until Tuesday May 24th. In the meantime...

    Waite
    Mr Faires is on holiday. Leaving the hapless charities he's dealt with hoping that he'll be as good as his word this time around. With his track record, now that is charitable.

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