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The stormy entry of Marco Janssen in billiards

Posted by on April 6, 2014

The stormy entry of Marco Janssen in billiards

© Harry van Nijlen/Kozoom
Marco Jansen (middle), the new big sponsor in the billiard world with his players Frédéric Caudron and Jean Paul de Bruijn

ZUNDERT/HOEVENEN - The name has been a buzz in the billiard world for weeks now, where the big news hit hard. Marco Jansen, 43, from Hoevenen (België) created more than just a ripple in the pond. He will be the new sponsor of a team that is already dubbed the dreamteam, with Frédéric Caudron (world champion, world nr. 1), Dick Jaspers, three time world champion, Eddy Merckx, two time world champion, current Belgian champion, and Jean Paul de Bruijn, two time Dutch champion and one of the best 1-cushion players in the world.

Marco Jansen, owner of the relatively new company AEJ (Algemene electriciteitswerken Jansen), married and father of three daughters, saw it as a challenge to bring these world class players together in a team of unprecedented class, to play not just in the Dutch, but also the Belgian league.
That is not all: Marco Jansen will also sponsor the WC for juniors in Sluiskil, and co-sponsor the Etikon classic disciplines team, that is about to go up for its 5thEuropean title.

The stormy entry of the new Mecenas has caused a stir in the billiard world. The first and major questions that arose, were:

x Who is Marco Jansen by the way, how did he get involved in billiards, and what are his intentions?

x Will this be a flash in the pan, or a new impulse for the sport?

x How much does it cost him, to have this team play in two leagues?

x What is his company about, and what does he want to achieve with this sponsorship? Is billiards a passion of his, or is it about the enhancement of name recognition?

x Is this a good thing for the Dutch and Belgian leagues: a team that is so superior, and will probably win all its matches by a margin?

x Is it true that Jean Paul de Bruijn has played - and will play - a key role in the contacts between players and sponsor?

Marco Jansen, spectating at the Dutch Cup final in Zundert, is happy to comment on these things. The new Messiah of of billiards? ,,My intention was to get four friends, with big names, together in a team, and hopefully make that a multi-year undertaking.''

He is a towering presence but with a modest demeanor, not quite the typical big time business tycoon. He was a general manager not so long ago, but in 2011 he started his own firm AEJ: Algemene Electiriciteitswerken Jansen. In three years, the company has experienced explosive growth.

,,We are on warp speed'', says Jansen. ,,I recently acquired a major project, for the renovation of 2000 apartments in Antwerp, just to give you an example. We are booked solid and have a huge turnover. I have 32 people on the payroll, but AEJ also has its tentacles in other companies.''

Jean Paul de Bruijn has quit his regular job, and will be employed by AEJ from 1 May, as manger. ,,He will be my commercial right hand, who will try to find orders in the Netherlands. Next to that, he will be responsible for the billiard sponsoring within the company.''

Kozoom/Frits Bakker: How did you get involved in billiards? And why this sport, not soccer or cycling?
Marco Jansen: ,,First of all, I don't give a hoot about soccer and less about cycling. I do sponsor a small local club, and a volleyball team in my village. I started in billiards as sponsor of De Ploeg and BC Deurne last year. That did not work out with De Ploeg, due to conflicts. There were rumors that I did not hold up my end of the deal, but it's the other way around. I was disappointed, do not want to discuss that, but eventually it made me quit. And I must say, there were no problems with the other team, BC Deurne.''

Kozoom/FB: ,,Which is when the new top team appeared on the horizon?
MJ: ,,I already had contacts with Dick Jaspers, Eddy Merckx and Jean Paul de Bruijn, they played for me in Deurne. Then the rumors started, that several teams would fall apart, both in Belgium and in The Netherlands. I had contacts via Jean Paul with Sluiskil, with regard to the sponsoring of the juniors WC, and started talks with Meerten Dallinga, when it became clear that they no longer had a budget for Caudron, and the Leppens had to go."

Kozoom/FB: What happened next, because it spiraled from there.
MJ: ,,I first talked to Frédéric Caudron, and asked him what we could accomplish with our budget. As I said before, I wanted to bring four friends together and create a wonderful team: it was only later that we decided to play both leagues.''

Kozoom/FB: About the budget: some crazy stories are going around about that..
MJ: ,,I have heard those: the weirdest one mentioned a cost of 280.000 euro for the two countries. That is preposterous. What I can say is, that it would have been foolish to not sign this team for the money we have agreed on. It was a very attractive deal for us. I had the feeling that nothing I did went over well in Belgium, so I wanted to try my hand in Holland, also because my ancestry is in Zeeland. My dad was born in Tholen. The decision to play with this team in Belgium came later.''

Kozoom/FB: What is your intention with this sponsorship. What do you try to accomplish, and how is it sustainable?
MJ: ,,I want to give billiards a shot in the arm, and show other companies that it can be worthwhile and affordable to sponsor this sport at the top level. I have played billiards for some twenty years now, but at a modest level. It is my impression that billiards is under-appreciated. That is one of the reasons I did not hesitate to support this team. Name recognition is nice, but it is not my main concern. It is not about "owning" a team like this. I want to present the sport well, the human aspect is more important for me than the investment. I want to demonstrate that even one sponsor can make a difference. But of course, I will also try to have the name of our team heard in places where our customers could be.''

Kozoom/FB: Are you the only sponsor of the new team?
MJ: ,,In Belgium, yes. In Holland, the foundation in Sluiskil shares the responsibility. For me, this was an affordable chance to do it in both countries.''

Kozoom/FB: To make a critical sound here: this is a team that is invincible in the leagues.
MJ: ,,I disagree, even though we will indeed be hard to beat. But the points still have to be made. We are not invincible, not even with these players. It is a challenge for the whole team and for me. I will try to visit at least as many home games as possible.''

Kozoom/FB: Any other news?
MJ: ,,Yes, we decided today that we will in Belgium also play on the small table with these four, and three other from a lower echelon. Caudron, Jaspers, Merckx and De Bruijn will play to 100 points.''

Kozoom/FB: Did you get many positive reactions when the news came out?
MJ: ,,To be honest, there were more negative responses than positive ones. As we said, some feared that the leagues will become less interesting. Some of it will also be jealousy. The main thing for me is, that the players are united and behind me. I am already in love with the whole ambiance, the people in the stands, the atmosphere and the level of play.''

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