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Northern Ireland sports agency determined to grow after joining forces with US business

By John Mulgrew

The boss of a Northern Ireland sports agency that represents some of rugby's top stars has said he is hoping to expand into new sectors amid a partnership with a US company.

Sportology, which represents stars including Ulster players and Irish internationals Iain Henderson and Stuart Olding, is merging with US consultancy Blue Giraffe.

The Northern Ireland firm was set up by Andrew Park, who was part of Ulster Rugby's European Cup-winning side in 1999. He will now act as director of Blue Giraffe Sports in Europe and the Middle East.

Following his rugby career, Mr Park moved into marketing and advertising, setting up Inc Marketing. Four years ago he established his management and consultancy business, Sportology.

"Sportology was set up to look after rugby players and then we fell into the golf market and started working with Gareth Maybin," he explained.

Mr Park said he began linking up with Blue Giraffe as the company started to work with professional golfer Stephanie Meadow. "With golf, you have to have links across Asia and the US," he said.

"It's (about) trying to make a bit more of a footprint that will appeal to players.

"We are working under the one brand name, we work together on the same website and we are one team. The players get the same service."

Mr Park confirmed the firm was trying to expand outside rugby and golf and was also growing its consultancy arm.

On Brexit, he said it was not yet clear what impact leaving the EU could have on his business.

"I think you have to wait and see how it will impact," he added. "When these players play in different countries... we have to wait and see in terms of that remit how that will unfold."

He also said the company was aiming to develop a strong client base and continuing to work with the best talent.

The US arm of the business is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Sporting stars on its books include professional golfer Lexi Thompson and Stuart Appleby.

Matt Judy of Blue Giraffe said: "It made perfect sense for us to merge and share expertise."

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