Marquee Group buys U.K. soccer-talent firm

SFX poised to take over both

NEW YORK — The Marquee Group, a New York-based sports-marketing firm, has secured a beachhead on English soil, laying out $3.5 million to buy Tony Stephens Associates Ltd., the soccer-talent firm operating out of the U.K.

Stephens Associates will become part of a new London-based division called Marquee U.K. — along with Park Associates, the British sports-talent-management firm that Marquee bought earlier this year.

Three of the biggest soccer stars in the U.K. — Alan Shearer, David Beckham and Michael Owen, who together have a combined insurance value of more than $150 million — are under contract to Stephens.

In the U.S., SFX Entertainment, one of the largest live-entertainment promoters in the U.S., is about to take over Marquee for $100 million in stock. SFX was the original bankroller of Marquee when it began operation in December 1995 under Bob Gutkowski, Marquee’s president and CEO.

Last month, Marquee entered the showbiz arena by ponying up $22 million to buy Tollin/Robbins. Michael Tollin and Brian Robbins produce “Arli$$” for HBO and three series for Nickelodeon, among other projects.

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