ST Ives-based company Arena Group has secured a £16.5million investment, and the expertise of a former Liverpool FC and an ex-professional cricketer, to develop its global business.

The international event services company announced the partnership deal with Sports Investment Partners (SIP) and growth capital investor, MML Capital, who both have taken over a minority stake in the business.

As a result of the deal, SIP managing partner and former Northants cricketer Matthew Wheeler takes over as chairman, with Sir Martin Broughton, who oversaw the sale of Liverpool to New England Sports Ventures for £300million, joining the board along with another SIP senior partner John Connolly.

Arena chief executive Greg Lawless plans to use this new investment as a catalyst for further global expansion. He said: "We will be looking to leverage both investment partners' significant experience and expertise to help develop and deliver ambitious international growth strategies for our business.

"It gives us great flexibility at a time when we are looking to expand beyond our current bases in the UK, Portugal, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Dubai to reach excellent new opportunities in the Far East."

Mr Wheeler has chaired six private equity-backed businesses in the sports and media sector in the past ten years, from investment through to successful exit and is a non executive director of the Professional Cricket Association.

He added: "Arena is a highly visible, successful company, synonymous with world-class performance and the very best in sporting endeavour. Growth continues to be steady in the global sports market and Arena is now well positioned to be part of that global growth."