|Richard Gould - CEO, Surrey County Cricket Club|
|Profile of the week|
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 11:20
Richard Gould is the Chief Executive Officer of Surrey County Cricket Club.
He assumed the role in 2011 after leaving Somerset in a similar position. He had been at Somerset for six years.
In his three years as CEO he has led the county team to profit and the team has had success on the field as well in the CB40 in 2011.
In his role Gould is looking to boost the Surrey brand especially with the revamping of the domestic Twenty20 competition coming into place.
By Ismail Uddin
Have you always enjoyed Cricket? What attracted you to a position in cricket and at Surrey?
I was born in a sporting family, a football family to be exact. My dad was a football manager and my brother played in the Premier League and in Scotland for Celtic. Football was the main game but being from a sporting family you tend to play most sports.
I played on here (Oval) as a youngster when I was 11 in one of those school competitions that they do. I didn't foresee the day I would be playing on the pitch professionally, that was not going to happen but it was nice to be involved in the sport from this angle.
You joined the club in 2011, what kind of development have you seen from the club since joining as CEO?
Before I arrived it had been a difficult year for the club. The club had lost quite a lot of money, a restructuring was taken place and we had reduced the number of staff levels probably by 25 per cent in order to bring the club back into profitability. Since then we have been profitable for the last three years which has been good and that has allowed us to reinvest those profits into the facilities and into the playing squad.
In terms of the playing side it has been a mixed three years. We won our first trophy in nine years when we won our Lords final back in 2011. We got relegated from the Championship last year but we were runners up in the Twenty20 so it has been a mixed year and we need more consistency.
Shorter forms of the game have been proving to be increasing popular. How have you embraced the development of this? Do you think English cricket could do more to catch up to the premier T20 tournaments in the world like IPL?
Twenty20 was created in England back in 2004/05 and whilst other tournaments around the world have proliferated and have got very good media revenues, I think the English game and this year's Natwest T20 Blast, you will see higher attendances at County Cricket than you will have ever seen in any year in county cricket history. From that perspective we are moving in the right direction.
We have seven home games here in the competition. Five of them are on Fridays, the ECB have had good foresight to ensure we focus on the customer and making sure we put on the game on a day where the customer can come. Whereas those tournaments around the world are made for TV, the Natwest T20 is made for the cricket supporter and a result of that we will see and explosion of fans attending Cricket in 2014.
A number of teams have rebranded their teams for the Natwest Blast in a marketing move. Have you considered a similar move for your brand?
I have considered it but all the 18 counties are very different and they all have very different business models. The great thing about county cricket is that most have brand names with brand equity that goes back for 150 to 160 years so it's difficult to come up with a name in a couple of years that is going to share that level of equity.
I remember when I was at Somerset and I would speak to people abroad and Somerset to them was a place that had Sir Viv Richards, Joel Garner and Ian Botham. Surrey is the place where (Mark) Ramprakash and Alec Stewart played so whilst some counties have gone to a new brand name, Birmingham Bears being an example that may suit their market it would not suit the Surrey market at this stage. Our aim is to dominate Surrey and London in terms of domestic cricket and you can see we are very central to London, that's the market we have got to play with but we think we can do that with the Surrey brand.
Look at Arsenal, why are they called Arsenal because they were created next to the Woolwich Arsenal. They are not there now, they are in a different part of London but they have taken that brand and made it their own and that's what we are seeking to do.
You have just announced a partnership with Lycamobile as your Official Mobile Partner how did that deal come about and will there be any special marketing campaigns around this deal?
We have a number of very good partners, starting off with our landlord who's the Prince of Wales so that's an extremely important partnership for us commercially. Kia has obviously been our sponsor for the last three years or so and they have been outstanding. Having an enormous brand like Kia connected to us means we have to raise our game. Kia has a mantra of family like care which we have adopted when it comes to dealing with our customers and supporters.
Lycamobile are a very exciting company to be involved with. They are very dynamic, based in new media and telecommunications and again we have had to raise our game with them to make sure we offer them the appropriate service. There are all sorts of things we are doing in regards to data and allowing them access to our database and likewise they are also allowing us to have access to their database. They have 500,000 users in the UK alone. That's a very fertile land to sell tickets for an Indian test or a Sri Lanka Twenty20.
How do you select your sponsors?
We end up looking at particular areas where we think there is good synergy between us and that sponsor. We have a regular recruitment campaign that goes on in order to get us into the market so people can see what we have to offer for Kia Oval and Surrey County Cricket Club.
I think the leaders in this field are Manchester United and I had a very interesting visit to their London office some months ago to see the system they have employed and it's a thorough professional system and it ensures when they do get a sponsor coming on board they can match the expectations that sponsors require for its own business and that's what all sports should look to achieve.