Sports

Andrew Hill

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”.

Andrew Hill

I wrote in July about the management lessons to be drawn from organising the Olympics and one point that particularly struck me was that the London 2012 organisers’ job continues well into 2013.

First there are the Paralympic Games to stage, then there are venues to be closed, knowledge to be transferred to Rio de Janeiro’s organisers, and accounts to be tallied.

The job strikes me as comparable to that of the administrators of companies that go into liquidation or the senior executives of life insurers that close to new business and go into “run-off”. Read more

Andrew Hill

The euphoria at Nasa over the successful landing of Curiosity on Mars is infectious. The public seems to have joined the scientists’ celebrations with a fervour similar to that shown by the British for their Olympic team’s successes. As one wag posted on Twitter: “Gold medal for Nasa in the 563 billion metres.”

Be careful, though, in extrapolating from either the Mars mission or the Olympic triumphs the easy conclusion that “aiming high” gets results. As I’ve written, the achievement of even quite small steps can have measurably positive effects on a team’s performance and morale. Similarly, missing the big goal might prove a crushing blow – I watch some of those heart-rending interviews with athletes that fell short of their and their countries’ expectations at the Olympics and wonder how they will start to recover. Read more

This weekend, NBC kicked off its expensive coverage of the London Olympics by cutting out the part of the opening ceremony that commemorated the victims of the July 7, 2005 bombings, in favour of a soft soap interview with Michael Phelps, the record-breaking swimmer. Then, when Phelps swam (and lost) the next day, it waited eight hours to televise him in action.

Andrew Hill

Halfway through my evening at Wembley Stadium on Sunday I realised why watching Olympic football – or any Olympic sport for that matter – feels strange: it’s the absence of advertising. A stadium normally decked in every type of corporate branding was dominated instead just by the Olympic rings, the participants’ flags, and the purple hues of London 2012. Read more

Andrew Hill

Embattled defenders of horseracing in the UK and Ireland will allow themselves a wry smile at China’s decision to buy into Irish thoroughbred racing and breeding expertise. Just as communist China is trying to breathe new life into a sport it once outlawed, racing is under fire in the decadent west.

The 2012 Grand National at Aintree – next time, Tianjin? (AP Photo/Jon Super)

The news that Ireland will help China set up a $2bn national equine centre came the day after critics renewed calls for a ban on the Grand National – English racing’s best-known and most gruelling steeplechase. Two horses had to be destroyed after falling in Saturday’s race. Read more

Andrew Hill

Real Madrid says it has an estimated 300m fans globally, more than half based in Asia. So I shouldn’t be surprised that it wants to put its name to a $1bn theme park in the United Arab Emirates, closer to that growing fan-base.

Computer-generated image of Real Madrid Resort Island (AFP Photo / Real Madrid)

Even so, I worry that such hubristic brand-building projects – the chief executive of Real Madrid Resort Island describes it as “sportainment”, a term I dearly hope never catches on – could distance football clubs further from their roots. Read more

Stuart Pearce is an unlikely management hero. The former England footballer became caretaker manager of the national team when Fabio Capello resigned abruptly last month. He may yet lead England into the forthcoming Euro 2012 tournament if his masters can’t get around to naming a permanent successor.

Andrew Hill

A highly paid manager doing his duty for the nation resigns in a huff after his ultimate paymasters interfere with his right to manage. Fabio Capello, manager of the England football team, has done what Stephen Hester, chief executive of state-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland, declined to do.

Mr Hester – who spent most of Wednesday doing interviews to explain his decision to stay, despite the row over his bonus – has told the world that it would have been “indulgent” to resign. At the same time, he has sent a strong message to the government that if it wants to earn a return on the taxpayer’s £45bn forced investment in RBS, it should leave him alone.

To use Mr Hester’s terminology (and assuming that the England manager jumped and wasn’t pushed), by comparison, Mr Capello’s decision looks, frankly, indulgent. If the FT’s Simon Kuper is right, the resignation has less to do with the Football Association’s decision to override his view on whether John Terry should keep the England captaincy, and more to do with England’s poor prospects in the coming Euro 2012 tournament and the potential that it would put a blot on Mr Capello’s reputation. Read more

Andrew Hill

Soon to be available in light blue

The shift of economic power eastwards from crisis-hit developed nations has another milestone: the publisher of Wisden – the annual “bible” of English cricket enthusiasts – is licensing production of an edition tailor-made for the Indian market.

A bit like Hermès, with its recent launch of a range of saris in India, Bloomsbury Publishing and its partner want to recast a western brand for enthusiastic Indian consumers.

The deal – with FidelisWorld FZ, a sports and entertainment management group – comes wrapped in the sort of biz-speak that would make John Wisden, the cricketer who founded the almanack in 1864, shudder. FidelisWorld, says the press statement, “aims to unify the fragmented sectors [of the Indian market for cricket information] into a consolidated whole… thereby achieving synergies and building value”. Read more

Andrew Hill

Fifa’s “council of wisdom” is shaping up to be one of the oddest advisory boards in the history of governance. Sepp Blatter, world football supremo, has sent invitations out to former player Johan Cruyff, ex-diplomat Henry Kissinger and opera-singer Plácido Domingo.

Blatter, re-elected as president of the world governing body last week, hopes this eclectic bunch – which he also called a “committee of solutions” in a frankly odd CNN interview on Tuesday – will help clear the pall of scandal hanging over FifaRead more

Andrew Hill

The acquisition of a minority stake in Liverpool football club by US basketball star LeBron James looks high on (self-)publicity and low on detail to me. Here’s the FT:

James’s LRMR Marketing & Branding group will take a “minority interest” in the club as part of a sponsorship deal agreed with Fenway Sports Management, a subsidiary of FSG [Liverpool's owner]. Financial terms were not disclosed.

This is a long way from a deal to use some of the Miami Heat star’s millions to build a new stadium for the UK club, or apply his business acumen to ensuring its survival. Read more

Andrew Hill

Ricky Ponting has resigned as captain of the Australian national cricket team, but he intends to stay on as a player. If he were chief executive of a business, however talented, he would never try to pick up the threads of his earlier career as, say, a top salesman. Why not?

Ricky Ponting (Gareth Copley/PA Wire)

Ponting, 36, was the most successful international cricket captain ever, but he was widely perceived to have failed recently. His team just lost to India in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Yet as a batsman, Ponting still has plenty left to offer. Indeed, the World Cup quarter-final saw him return to form, scoring a typically brave century. As he told the press in relinquishing the leadership:

 

Now that I won’t have all the extra responsibility of the captaincy, I think I can turn myself into a better player than I’ve shown in the last six months.

 Read more

Andrew Hill

Logo for the London 2012 OlympicsIran’s threat to withdraw from the 2012 London Olympics must be the first time anybody has tried to boycott any event because of a logo.

Iran’s claim that the collection of irregular polygons conceals the word “Zion” is only the latest, albeit the highest-level, objection to the design. It triggered controversy (of the “what the heck is it?” rather than the Iranian “it offends our moral principles” variety) as soon as it was launched in 2007. The BBC asked for suggestions and received 600 alternative logos and 10,000 comments. Read more