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Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake

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PostSubject: Wasps to Coventry   Wasps to Coventry EmptyTue Oct 07, 2014 8:55 pm

Quote :
I very rarely post here.

I’ve been a Wasps member and after that a season ticket holder since 1987 though I’ve thought of it ‘my club’ since 1967. That year we stayed briefly with my father’s family in Wembley and Sudbury was more or less round the corner. I loved Wasps’ grit.

My son still treasures the programme he has from an unremarkable end of season game against West Hartlepool back in the mid-90s – unremarkable except that he got the signatures of every one of the Wasps starting XV.

I get to few games in Wycombe now. I live in the UK but work mostly abroad. So the move to the Ricoh won’t make much difference to me in any practical sense ... except that I’ll go to zero home games a year instead of three or four. And I won’t make sure my contracts end or have a break in them a couple of days before the biggest games.

Even when that ‘biggest game’ is a life or death clash to avoid the drop as it was a couple of years ago.

That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be outraged about.

When the smoke clears, we will see this for what it is. What it has always been. And it has always been about the Ricoh.

Wasps – the club and all that it meant to the likes of you and me – were bit part players from the start.

‘Confidentiality’

You don’t have to delve too far into the business interests of the Dereks Thorne and Richardson and their intensely private – some would say secretive – approach to business to realise that their interests in a rugby club (or a soccer club for that matter) is some way from emotional.

Nor to realise that ‘sshhh’ could be either or both’s middle name.

Put either in the same room as a hedge fund that seems garrulous by comparison, add the prospectus of an undervalued asset … and you have precisely what we have now.

It was never about saving the Wasps we have supported for decades.

Back in the late summer of 2012 we waved at the lifeboat … and now we’re watching it row right by. Just as it was always going to.

Whatever we might think of the concrete sump that is the Ricoh, it screams ‘undervalued, undeveloped asset’ to anyone with an interest in property. Plus it has/had (depending when you’re reading this) a part-owner – Coventry City Council – keen to get rid or use it as an interest earning asset. With sweet smelling bouquets attached, if necessary.

Brass plates

Wasps’ ownership since Steve Hayes lost interest has not been a model of transparency. The majority of London Wasps Holdings’ shares were owned by Derek Thorne’s ‘non-trading’ company Canmango – a company that was nothing more than a file in a cupboard at lawyers Kennedy’s on Fenchurch Avenue in the City. Canmango sprang into life on 17 August precisely to execute Derek Thorne’s purchase. Its accounts and annual returns are a model of obfuscation.

Then, on 5 April 2013, Derek Thorne sold the company to Moonstone Holdings – aka Derek Richardson – and its affairs receded even further into the murk. Moonstone is a Malta based company whose ultimate controlling interest is MGI Fiduciary Services, an ‘accounting services’ company also based in Malta.

MGI’s value to its clients does not lie in its commitment to transparency.

Richardson, we now know, was interested in Coventry/Ricoh (and the acres of land around screaming ‘regeneration’) up to two years ago – before he bought Wasps.

it would seem an awkward thing to do to try to persuade oneself that it was the survival of Wasps close to its heartland that was his principal interest.

Consortiums and consultation

Owning Wasps was certainly a handy thing to lob into any negotiation for the Ricoh and its potential future profits. But the risks were obvious – among them the commercial value of the London/Wycombe fan base.

Bluntly, what would it cost the business to lose the lot and start again somewhere else? E.g. Coventry.

Anyone investing in professional sport knows its ‘customers’ – the fans – aren’t like other customers. They still ‘buy’ the product when its not so good compared to what else is out there. And they feel an emotional attachment that is much more than about value for money – whoever heard anyone talk about ‘my supermarket’? Fans always talk about ‘my club’.

The business question, though, is what does that represent in commercial value? If you’re selling 40,000 season tickets it’s one thing. If you struggle to sell 3,000, it’s something else. But you still need to know whether those fans will follow a moving club … or whether they’re worth hanging on to at all.

The cynicism of the ‘consultation’ and the ‘communications’ that followed is jaw dropping.

“Every fan counts” was indeed the mantra – but not quite in the way we were led to believe.

The ‘consultation’ was not about us. Nor about where we thought the club should be heading. It was actually about putting a number in a spreadsheet that was – ‘potential profit’/’potential cost’.

And we now know that worth was … ‘Meh’.

What we thought was a message saying ‘take us back to our heartland’ was read as ‘low product loyalty - discount them'.

Yup. “Every fan counts” … just not necessarily the ones who turn up at the moment.

Communication


If any of us ever had any doubts about what was happening, the owners’/consortium’s constant cries of ‘confidentiality’ should have been a signal.

Most negotiations have confidential elements about them – though fewer elements than some would have you believe. And the line between essential commercial confidentiality and secretive self interest is a movable one. One that rarely moves in the direction of customers, ordinary investors or, in this case, fans.

But even where there are confidentiality requirements in place, that never means saying nothing.

The standard advice – golden rule if you like – when you do have to keep mum for legitimate reasons is to brief on the quiet … and keep briefing those who’ll matter to you once the deed is done.

Not breaking confidences, you understand, or giving things away or undermining the talks or negotiations. But making sure that once you announce the deal, or whatever, the people who matter will at least be using your language, using your framings, your narratives.

The only people you tell nothing are those who won’t matter come the day. Oh, and if they fill the vacuum with their own narratives that happen to be helpful to you – e.g. the deal you’re about to do on the Ricoh is actually just a threat to leverage another deal … or it’s an investment that will pay for a move closer to London – then you do nothing to persuade them otherwise.

It is that cynical.

And where …?

But the deal is done. There are still stumbling blocks – there always are in any major property development.

As for the council, its main duty was fiduciary – that’s to say, has the Coventry council tax payer got the best return on its asset? Expect them to tug the rug at the last was always a little optimistic.

Expect to see the Ricoh up for sale again in a couple of years’ time at a price three or four times its current value – when development plans are sufficiently advanced to put hard numbers on the project.

Where that will leave Coventry Wasps … time, as they say, will tell.

I doubt many of us will care by then.

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Plenty to ponder there. Some of it strangely familiar - especially the bit about confidentiality.
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Angry

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PostSubject: Re: Wasps to Coventry   Wasps to Coventry EmptyTue Oct 07, 2014 9:00 pm

wasps will join MK Dons with the immortal title of franchise scum if they move to Coventry.
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zyph

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PostSubject: Re: Wasps to Coventry   Wasps to Coventry EmptyTue Oct 07, 2014 11:32 pm

So with Premiership Rugby coming to Coventry....where does that leave Coventry RFC......and also life long Wasp fans ?
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Angry

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PostSubject: Re: Wasps to Coventry   Wasps to Coventry EmptyTue Oct 07, 2014 11:50 pm

zyph wrote:
So with Premiership Rugby coming to Coventry....where does that leave Coventry RFC......and also life long Wasp fans ?

wasps will lose a size of their following for obvious reasons but on the flipside they will gain new ones in coventry like mk dons did when they became a franchise. I cant see coventry rfc surviving sadly.
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mouldyoldgoat
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PostSubject: Re: Wasps to Coventry   Wasps to Coventry EmptyWed Oct 08, 2014 12:10 am

I know a lot of Wasp fans, I wonder what they will say tomorrow! Suspect

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Angry

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PostSubject: Re: Wasps to Coventry   Wasps to Coventry EmptyWed Oct 08, 2014 12:42 am

mouldyoldgoat wrote:
I know a lot of Wasp fans, I wonder what they will say tomorrow! Suspect

feel sorry for them they have truly screwed over.
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Cornish Chris

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PostSubject: Re: Wasps to Coventry   Wasps to Coventry EmptyWed Oct 08, 2014 8:47 am

That's awful. I'm no great rugby fan, but to see one of the great old clubs of British sport quite literally sent to Coventry is very sad to see.
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zyph

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PostSubject: Re: Wasps to Coventry   Wasps to Coventry EmptyWed Oct 08, 2014 9:02 am

Angry wrote:
mouldyoldgoat wrote:
I know a lot of Wasp fans, I wonder what they will say tomorrow! Suspect

feel sorry for them they have truly screwed over.



Yea they've really been stung..... Rolling Eyes
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mouldyoldgoat
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PostSubject: Re: Wasps to Coventry   Wasps to Coventry EmptyWed Oct 08, 2014 8:40 pm

I met some very unhappy wasp fans today. Not one of them will be renewing their STs or going to Coventry.

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Angry

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PostSubject: Re: Wasps to Coventry   Wasps to Coventry EmptyWed Oct 08, 2014 9:16 pm

mouldyoldgoat wrote:
I met some very unhappy wasp fans today. Not one of them will be renewing their STs or going to Coventry.

dont blame them one bit. The owner of Wasps didnt even bother to menton it to the fans he was moving the club till it came on sky sports news!! And we think brent is a shit he could learn alot from this guy.
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Lord Tisdale

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PostSubject: Re: Wasps to Coventry   Wasps to Coventry EmptySun Oct 12, 2014 9:26 pm

Don't care where they go as long as they stay away from my cider.

I am sure Coventry RFC are well pleased, they were a great side back in the day.

Fecking Ricoh is a shit tip for rugby, rugby is a game to be played in scum holes like Kingsholm and the old Welford Road before they built that fecking gert beg new stand.
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