Imagine a business with a base of middle-class customers in the richest nations, a fervent new following in the world’s fastest-growing Asian economies, loyal corporate backers, and a new global television showcase, championed by personable young stars. Are you in?
Imagine if the attorney-general of Switzerland asked the New York Police Department to drive up Park Avenue and arrest several senior officials of Major League Baseball. The cops would probably do it, if the extradition charges were drawn up correctly, but one or two New Yorkers might demand to know what business it was of the Swiss to interfere in a traditional American pastime.
Bernie Ecclestone, the 83-year-old supremo of Formula One, this week brought his empire-threatening bribery trial to an end by agreeing to pay $100m to the German court that was hearing the case. That is right: he paid off the state of Bavaria to escape a bribery charge.
Rupert Murdoch is not exactly putting his money where his mouth is with 21st Century Fox’s unsolicited $80bn offer for Time Warner. By offering non-voting Fox shares as part of the cash-and-stock bid he has made clear that he will not risk his voting grip on his family-controlled company. Read more
Luis Suarez, right, and Giorgio Chiellini after clashing during their World Cup match. Photo: Reuters
If you bit someone at work – as Uruguayan striker Luis Suárez appeared to on Tuesday night – would you get sacked? It seems likely. Read more
Welcome to the World Cup in Brazil, brought to you by Fifa, a corporate governance disaster that is also one of the most successful multinational enterprises on earth.
Lesson Two: ensure your predecessor is dead or distant (photo: Getty)
Good morning and welcome to the new Harvard MBA module on sports management. I’m assistant professor David Moyes. Read more
EE is the descendant of one of the most ridiculous brands in corporate history – Everything Everywhere, which turned out to mean Nothing Anywhere – so I feared the worst when I saw the UK digital communications group had signed a partnership with what it inevitably calls the “iconic” Wembley Stadium. Football fans already chant about “going to Wemb-er-lee”, so the brand gurus could so easily have renamed the ground “WemblEE”.
Wembley Stadium, as it will be, sEEn from the air (source: EE)
Happily, common sense and history prevailed. Fans will have to survive a blizzard of EE branding, including the illumination of Wembley’s arch in EE blue, but the press statement is clear that “the world-renowned name of the stadium will remain”. It usually does. When new names are applied to old stadiums, often either the name doesn’t stick – or the company doesn’t. Read more
There is one question I’ve been struggling to figure out about Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to release his second memoir: why now? Of course, he has retired but for a manager renowned for protecting his players in public while berating them in the sanctity of the dressing room, publicly naming and shaming some of the club legends has generated lots of unflattering headlines.
Sir Alex certainly wants his legacy as a leader and manager to be recognised; his methods were recently the subject of a Harvard Business Review case study.
But another reason is hinted at in one of the most revealing quotes from the book, on the loneliness of being a manager: “In management you are fragile, sometimes. You wonder whether you are valued”. Read more
Di Canio confronts fans; a day later he lost his job as Sunderland manager
With Harvard Business School professors analysing Sir Alex Ferguson’s management style, and consultants drawing parallels between football coaches and chief executives, is there room in the crowded literature of sports management case studies for “The Di Canio Way”?
If there is, it will be a slim volume – Paolo Di Canio lost his job as manager of Sunderland on Sunday night after just 13 games and barely a month into the new season. I don’t have much truck with parallels between sports management and business management, but there are four cautionary chapters executives everywhere might want to read. Read more
Howard Wilkinson, former manager of Leeds United, knows about pressure: “No offence to captains of industry but even a FTSE 100 chairman can postpone a board meeting. A manager can’t postpone a football match and every match is a shareholder meeting, [sometimes] in front of 88,000 people.”
Thomas Bach, the new president of the International Olympic Committee, is the ninth person to hold the position since it was established in 1894. The election of Mr Bach, once an Olympic gold medal fencer, comes shortly after the investiture of Ephraim Mirvis as chief rabbi of Britain and the Commonwealth. Britain has had chief rabbis since 1704. Rabbi Mirvis is just the 11th to hold the post.
When the Olympic movement and British Jewry appoint bosses, they expect them to stick around.
Contrast that with company chief executives, who are being thrown out in almost unprecedented numbers. Read more
The Ashes is regularly described as “one of the oldest rivalries in sport” – a phrase to get the blood running for English and Australian cricket fans as the latest series gets under way. But could the competitive edge that makes the Test matches so exciting lead to unethical behaviour on and off the field? It seems so.
Academics exploring the difference between healthy competition and sometimes unhealthy rivalry suggest that the latter is “associated with increased Machiavellianism, over-reporting of performance, willingness to employ unethical negotiation tactics, and unsportsmanlike behavior”. Read more
Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement as manager of Manchester United gives the management world another example of how to bow out when you are, frankly, getting a bit elderly.
On this topic, we now have four great templates – the Pope, the Queen of England, Warren Buffett and Sir Alex – each of which could be applied by organisations whose leaders are grappling with questions about the frailty and mortality of their leaders. Read more
Pat Howard is getting some undeserved flak for suspending four players from Australia’s national cricket team.
The manager was once chief operating officer of a listed company, but never in his corporate management career can he have taken a more controversial decision. Read more
Roberto Di Matteo. Image by Getty
Chief executives who fret about the short-termist demands of their companies’ shareholders should spare a thought for Roberto Di Matteo, ditched as manager of Chelsea Football Club on Wednesday.
Football is a funny old management game, of course, but Chelsea’s capricious owner Roman Abramovich embodies a combination of short-termism, short temper and short-term memory loss that is extreme even in that curious world.
True, Mr Di Matteo had just overseen Chelsea’s defeat in the Champions’ League on Tuesday night to Italy’s Juventus, which puts the London club in danger of an early exit from Europe’s most prestigious club competition. But Mr Di Matteo is also the man who, having taken over only weeks earlier from the last hapless Chelsea manager, led the club to (admittedly unexpected) victory in the same tournament in May. Read more
If I were a 72-year-old billionaire with interests in three Los Angeles sports teams and venues from the Californian city’s Staples Center to London’s O2 Arena, I might be inclined to relax, put my feet up and count on enjoying another 15, even 20, years of guaranteed VIP seating at the best live events in the world. But I am not Philip Anschutz, the Denver-based billionaire who has just put Anschutz Entertainment Group, his sport, music and entertainment company on the block.
We’re unlikely to hear the explanation for this decision direct from the mogul himself. One of the few live events AEG has not had a hand in staging or hosting recently is a press conference or interview starring Philip Anschutz. Read more
Britain is “considering new rules” to make the London Stock Exchange more attractive to start-ups, according to Bloomberg, using the US “Jumpstart our Business Startups” Act as the model.
Careful. The quest to make individual exchanges more attractive than their counterparts for initial public offerings is fraught with risk and can quickly turn into a race to the bottom on standards. Read more
Anyone who has worked with a prima donna – and hasn’t everyone? – should study the latest career moves of Kevin Pietersen and Robin van Persie.
Cricketer Pietersen, one of England’s best ever batsmen, was dropped from the team last week, accused of sending what the South African-born player admitted were “provocative” texts to the opposing South African team, allegedly denigrating the England captain. Footballer van Persie, Arsenal’s captain, was sold to newly listed Manchester United, six weeks after stating on his website that he and the London club’s management “disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward”.