After an extensive recruitment process, English soccer club Arsenal has appointed a communications director to join its senior management team.
Mark Gonnella joins Arsenal from his previous role as corporate affairs director at Barclaycard, where he was responsible for managing Barclaycard's reputation across Europe and the US.
Gonnella spent nearly ten years at Barclaycard and was a member of their Executive Committee. He was responsible for public relations, internal communications, public affairs and corporate responsibility and developed a number of award-winning communication and corporate responsibility programmes. He also led Barclaycard’s PR activities during their sponsorship of the Premier League.
Prior to joining Barclaycard, Gonnella worked as a communications adviser to blue-chip companies and sports stars. He started his career as a news and sport journalist.
A life-long Reading fan, Gonnella will be responsible for creating communication programmes to extend Arsenal's brand and reputation around the world. He will lead Arsenal's corporate, commercial and football communications activities. His appointment follows the departure of head of communications Amanda Docherty in September.
"This is an absolute dream job for me," said the 48-year-old Gonnella. "The opportunity to bring two great passions of my life - football and communications - together in my day to day work is irresistible. Arsenal has a compelling business plan for the future and effective communications will be a key part of making those plans come to fruition."
Chief executive Ivan Gazidis said: "We're absolutely delighted that Mark has decided to join Arsenal. He is a vastly experienced communications professional who will bring a huge amount of knowledge and expertise, not only to our communications team, but to the organisation as a whole.
"Mark loves football and has a proven track record of delivering high quality PR, communications and corporate responsibility initiatives to a worldwide audience. He therefore has the perfect credentials to shape our communications strategy, which will support our ambitious vision for the club."
Gonnella, who is married with two teenage children, starts his new role with Arsenal on 1st January 2011. Executive search consulting firm Spencer Stuart assisted Arsenal in the recruitment process.