Sports

Andrew Hill

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

Andrew Hill

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

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