|Richard Lewis- CEO, AELTC|
|Profile of the week|
Friday, 12 October 2012 14:40
Richard Lewis is the Chief Executive of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC).
Prior to his career in sports administration, he spent fourteen years as a professional tennis player. During his time on the circuit, Richard competed in all four Grand Slams, represented Great Britain in Davis Cup and reached a career high ranking of 62.
Richard served on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Board of Directors and was Treasurer from 1978 to 1982. On his retirement as a player he coached Grand Slam champion Kathy Jordan (Wimbledon Mixed Doubles 1986) and worked with Hana Mandlikova, when she won the US Open Singles (1985).
He joined the Lawn Tennis Association where he progressed to become Director of Tennis (1998 – 2000) with a responsibility for 160 staff. While at the LTA he was responsible for introducing the first Coach Licensing Scheme in British sport and a complete overhaul of the British tournament structure as well as introducing a player rating scheme similar to a golf handicap. In 1996, he was the British Olympic Tennis team manager at the Atlanta Olympics when Tim Henman and Neil Broad won a Silver medal.
After leaving the LTA in 2000, Richard spent two years at Merryck & Co, the international business mentoring and leadership consultancy.
In 2002 he joined the Rugby Football League (RFL) as Executive Chairman and held that position until 2009, when he became Chairman. During his tenure at the RFL, TV income more than doubled, sponsorship increased by over 50% and government investment went from £1m to £7.5m per annum.
Richard oversaw a radical overhaul of Rugby League’s governance bringing about a unified national governing body for the sport for the first time since 1973.
Richard has been Chairman of Sport England since 2009 and is a Trustee of both the London Marathon Trust and the Wembley National Stadium Trust. He has been a member of The All England Club since 1987.
Does your experience as a player help you in your current position?
I suppose it helps a little bit to have been a former player and also a coach. When you are talking to the players, at least you have some of sort of recollection of what it was like to be a player and a coach on the tour. My time at the RFL was probably more relevant than anything because this is about a huge sporting event and I was responsible for running some sports events in rugby league. That was a good grounding.
How does managing Wimbledon differ from the RFL?
It is more similar to my first few years at the RFL, when I was Executive Chairman. As a Chief Executive, you’re much more responsible for the day-to-day activity and the attention to detail. We try to avoid things going wrong, but if something does go wrong, the buck stops with me.
In many ways, it’s very similar to my rugby league days because the dynamics are the same. Rugby League has fairly high profile sports event, dealing with players, coaches, committees, the media, sponsors and partners.
Are there any accomplishments that you are particularly proud of, from your time at the RFL?
The TV negotiations were very successful. They increased TV income every time and two out of the three times was in a very difficult market.
I am pleased with the way the game unified in the time I was there. All parts of the sport - the community game, the professional, the semi-professional part of the sport - came together.
I think our relationship with government was also a very positive aspect of my time at the RFL.
After less than a year, you had reunified the RFL with the British Amateur Rugby League Association. What was the reasoning behind the move?
Rugby League is so much stronger under one umbrella. The recognition of one governing body was overwhelmingly the right thing to do and that’s what people wanted. The vast majority wanted a strong sense of direction and that’s what a unified governing body is able to do and still does. It still is able to rule with authority over all parts of the sport.
It’s also about selling the sport- it’s much more powerful to sell to sponsors the whole sport of Rugby League rather than a fragment of the sport.