Venture funding from Valhalla obtained

Veteran online gambling entrepreneur and businessman Mark Blandford, who founded Sportingbet among other successful ventures, is to join the board of China-facing World Sports Network following a first institutional round of venture funding from his Valhalla Investments Inc., an Alderney based venture capital investor specialising in the leisure sector.

Both WSN's English (www.wsn.com) and Chinese (cn.wsn.com) football websites have grown markedly in popularity and size since their initial launch less than a year ago and now serve millions of page views a month, a company spokesman said this week. The recent Olympics in Beijing has coincided with a real boom in interest in sport in mainland China, and the extra funding is expected to see the company cover additional sports leagues such as America's NBA.

The appointment of Blandford has been greeted as warmly as the financial investment. "We are thrilled to bring on an industry veteran in Mark Blandford," said the company's CEO, Charles Gillespie. "Mark's success in online sports betting is unrivaled and we are excited to hear what advice he can provide us from his experience with Sportingbet and his other ventures. Valhalla's investment validates our vision of creating China's leading sports vertical. Its support has already enabled us to accelerate development of a few key projects that we will release before the end of 2008."

Blandford is also optimistic the move will be fruitful for WSN. "I'm delighted to be joining the board of such an exciting company as WSN. I believe the addressable market is huge and that WSN can feed the demand for more information and statistics which have an impact on the outcome of sporting events," he commented.

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