Tom Glick- President & CEO, Derby County Football Club Share PDF Print E-mail
Profile of the week
Tom Glick joined Derby County in January 2008 as Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining, he served as Chief Marketing Officer for the New Jersey Nets 2006-2008).  Prior to that was a two-year stint at the National Basketball Association (2004-2006), working in their league headquarters in New York City, as Vice President, Marketing & Team Business Development.
From 1999-2004, Tom served as Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing of the Sacramento River Cats of the Pacific Coast League, a Triple-A baseball league.  The River Cats led all of Minor League Baseball in attendance during his five seasons, drawing more than 800,000 fans each season, and became the Minor League’s top seller of merchandise.
Tom was also the General Manager of two other Minor League Baseball teams, including the record setting Lansing Lugnuts (1996-1999) who were the first Single-A or Double-A team to draw more than 500,000 fans in a season, a feat they went on to repeat in four consecutive seasons.
He is a two-time winner of Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 award.
By Edward Rangsi
Did you know much about English football before you arrived?
Actually, I didn’t follow it very closely. I think the reason is that I’ve tended to be completely immersed in whatever sport and whatever club I’m working in. So right now, I have a fairly one-track mind on English football. However, I did play until I was sixteen and the English matches would occasionally come on the public broadcasting stations. That was in the 70s when Derby was having a particularly strong run of form and won the two league championships. So from my roots, I loved and played the game, but had really lost touch until we made the decision to join Derby County.
What do you enjoy the most about English game?
It’s a brilliant sport. I’ve always enjoyed working in sport and have always enjoyed running clubs, but I can’t remember having as much fun as I have this past four years. It’s a privilege to be employed in a sport as dominant, as popular and as important to peoples’ lives and the social fabric of the country as football is in the UK. Specifically, it’s a privilege to be in charge at Derby County knowing how important is to people in Derbyshire and the East Midlands. It’s a proper challenge, because with that level of importance to people’s lives comes expectation.
I’m sure you were aware of the many foreign owners involved in English football. Did you feel you had to do anything special to be an "accepted foreigner"?
The only way to run a club properly is to be hands-on. We answered up front with why we are here and were very honest with the fans. We said: “we’re at Derby because it’s a great club and couldn’t image a better place to be.” Beyond that, we’ve really paid close attention to the history and the tradition. We’ve done a number of things that were perhaps on the shelf with other ownership groups or other boards in terms of memorialising Steve Bloomer, Brian Clough, Peter Taylor and Lionel Pickering. We also did a number of things to re-engage with the former players and to bring them back into the fold.
Customer service has been essential to us in terms of how we treat and engage with the supporters. We have a number of customer service initiatives under the banner of ‘Fans First’ that would speak to both season ticket holders and non-season ticket holders. We’ve also made great strides to connect to the local business community, the regional business community, the city council, the county council and to be an active participant. We’ve have one of the top performing community relation teams of football clubs in the UK and we’ve made sure that that group has everything it needs to continue to make the difference.
You came to Derby during a difficult relegation period. How difficult of an introduction was that to English football?
When we bought the club in late January, more than half of the Premiership season had gone and the club had seven points so we knew that the club would be going down. Although, we probably thought it would be a bit easier than it was proven to be to get back up.
While it’s been expensive, and the owners have invested quite a bit of working capital within the club, we’ve been able to learn a lot about what it takes to win, develop youth properly, buy and sell players better, and to put a squad together. We’ve made a consistent commitment to our manager, Nigel Clough, who’s been here for three years and we’re now starting to see the benefits of that continuity for him and his coaching staff.
In appointing Nigel Clough and sticking with him, Derby has displayed an unusually long -term strategy. Other clubs seem to be more short-term in their outlook. How have you managed to resist operating in this way?
You have to hold your nerve sometimes when you’re convinced that while it maybe a difficult decision, sticking with the plan is the right thing to do. Also, we’re a bit closer to it and can see the work that’s going on behind the scenes that others sometimes can’t see. Overall, we knew that there would always be good and bad times but as long as you’re consistently making progress, making a massive change in terms of the person who’s leading that football side forward has the potential to set you back a long way. We’ve been convinced throughout that we have the right guy, the right people on the case and having that consistent support for him puts us in a position to now start to gather some momentum.
In the States, sport franchises make money whereas clubs in English football generally lose money. Is there anything English clubs can learn?
You certainly find in every one of the North American sports that there is some form of downward pressure on wages that is collectively bargained between the clubs and the players. They agree to a wage structure that generally is a percentage of turnover. I think in the US, it’s also to maintain some competitive balance and not let the larger clubs dominate every year.
The fundamental difference here is that the idea of competitive balance isn’t so much a major theme, but I do think that sound financial governance and keeping clubs from going out of business certainly does resonate. The problem is too many clubs are losing money and that’s the part that we’re seeking to fix. It’s about how you get that financial sustainability to marry up with the ladder of English football. We’ve been talking about it quite a bit within the football league right now with the financial fair play initiatives and we’re very close to having a new set of rules which will enable clubs to run themselves in a more financially sustainable way, whilst preserving the great competition that we have.
How do you both balance the books and stay competitive on the pitch?
Well, we’re not there yet, but we’re working towards it. Ultimately, you have two choices; you can raise revenue or cut expenses. It’s very easy to spend a lot of money on players’ wages. The key thing is to get the right mix of players and to be great at buying, selling and developing. Youth development is important.
The aim is to be able to able to perform at the top end of the division on wages that you’re business can afford on its own. It’s been a process of growing revenues and becoming more proficient on football operations. That part has been the most difficult because it’s easy to make expensive mistakes and results dominate what people are thinking at any given time. We’ve certainly had some moments of truths where we’ve had to hold our nerves and say “hang on, I know result haven’t been going well, but we’re on a path here and we need to stay committed to that path.”
Are the club back on track for a return to top-flight football soon and where do you envision the club being in around five years time?
I’d be surprised if we weren’t back in the Premier League within five years. How many years it takes remains to be seen simply because there’s no easy formula to unlock promotion. If it was as simple as throwing money at it, that would be at a strategy. Many clubs have shown that with a disciplined and moderate investment in player wages, you stand a very good chance of getting promoted. So whether it’s this, next or takes three or four years, we certainly do expect to get promoted. It the meantime, we expect to be consistently competing in the top end of the Championship and keeping our fans excited, engaged and enjoying their football club.
I know we’re looking ahead, but how worrying and difficult will it be given the fact that some owners with seemingly bottomless pockets are prepared to take a considerable loss to ensure success?
There are certainly examples of clubs who are competing reasonably well in the Premier League. Stoke City have not just survived but thrived very much on wages in the middle of the pack and are back in the top ten right now.  Fulham would be another example of a club on more moderate wages who has been able to compete. We look at all those examples and say “when we go up, because we have continuity of people an processes, because we have a really good handle on our football and business operation, we will be in a position to make the right decisions to enable us to maintain our position in the Premier League.”
What do you expect your legacy to be?
I would expect our legacy to be one of an ownership group that has engaged with its support, its community and its city. One that has expanded the fan base, re-engaged lapsed fans, made a more exciting match-day and while doing that, has a culture of ‘winning’ running throughout the football club. We want to be a club that has won its way out of the Championship and is holding down a position somewhere safely in the Premiership. How high that is depends on a lot of other factors that perhaps would be out of our control. We would hope that our legacy would include all of those things and would have provided an even better football experience for Derby County supporters because of that.

Tom Glick Cropped 1

Tom Glick joined Derby County in January 2008 as Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining, he served as Chief Marketing Officer for the New Jersey Nets (2006-2008).  Prior to that was a two-year stint at the National Basketball Association (2004-2006), working in their league headquarters in New York City, as Vice President, Marketing & Team Business Development.

From 1999-2004, Tom served as Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing of the Sacramento River Cats of the Pacific Coast League, a Triple-A baseball league.  The River Cats led all of Minor League Baseball in attendance during his five seasons, drawing more than 800,000 fans each season, and became the Minor League’s top seller of merchandise.

Tom was also the General Manager of two other Minor League Baseball teams, including the record setting Lansing Lugnuts (1996-1999) who were the first Single-A or Double-A team to draw more than 500,000 fans in a season, a feat they went on to repeat in four consecutive seasons.

He is a two-time winner of Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 award.  

By Edward Rangsi


Did you know much about English football before you arrived?

Actually, I didn’t follow it very closely. I think the reason is that I’ve tended to be completely immersed in whatever sport and whatever club I’m working in. So right now, I have a fairly one-track mind on English football. However, I did play until I was sixteen and the English matches would occasionally come on the public broadcasting stations. That was in the 70s when Derby was having a particularly strong run of form and won the two league championships. So from my roots, I loved and played the game, but had really lost touch until we made the decision to join Derby County. 


What do you enjoy the most about English game? 

It’s a brilliant sport. I’ve always enjoyed working in sport and have always enjoyed running clubs, but I can’t remember having as much fun as I have this past four years. It’s a privilege to be employed in a sport as dominant, as popular and as important to peoples’ lives and the social fabric of the country as football is in the UK. Specifically, it’s a privilege to be in charge at Derby County knowing how important is to people in Derbyshire and the East Midlands. It’s a proper challenge, because with that level of importance to people’s lives comes expectation. 

 

I’m sure you were aware of the many foreign owners involved in English football. Did you feel you had to do anything special to be an "accepted foreigner"? 

The only way to run a club properly is to be hands-on. We answered up front with why we are here and were very honest with the fans. We said: “we’re at Derby because it’s a great club and couldn’t image a better place to be.” Beyond that, we’ve really paid close attention to the history and the tradition. We’ve done a number of things that were perhaps on the shelf with other ownership groups or other boards in terms of memorialising Steve Bloomer, Brian Clough, Peter Taylor and Lionel Pickering. We also did a number of things to re-engage with the former players and to bring them back into the fold. 

Customer service has been essential to us in terms of how we treat and engage with the supporters. We have a number of customer service initiatives under the banner of ‘Fans First’ that would speak to both season ticket holders and non-season ticket holders. We’ve also made great strides to connect to the local business community, the regional business community, the city council, the county council and to be an active participant. We’ve have one of the top performing community relation teams of football clubs in the UK and we’ve made sure that that group has everything it needs to continue to make the difference.


You came to Derby during a difficult relegation period. How difficult of an introduction was that to English football? 

When we bought the club in late January, more than half of the Premiership season had gone and the club had seven points so we knew that the club would be going down. Although, we probably thought it would be a bit easier than it was proven to be to get back up. 

While it’s been expensive, and the owners have invested quite a bit of working capital within the club, we’ve been able to learn a lot about what it takes to win, develop youth properly, buy and sell players better, and to put a squad together. We’ve made a consistent commitment to our manager, Nigel Clough, who’s been here for three years and we’re now starting to see the benefits of that continuity for him and his coaching staff. 


In appointing Nigel Clough and sticking with him, Derby has displayed an unusually long -term strategy. Other clubs seem to be more short-term in their outlook. How have you managed to resist operating in this way?

You have to hold your nerve sometimes when you’re convinced that while it maybe a difficult decision, sticking with the plan is the right thing to do. Also, we’re a bit closer to it and can see the work that’s going on behind the scenes that others sometimes can’t see. Overall, we knew that there would always be good and bad times but as long as you’re consistently making progress, making a massive change in terms of the person who’s leading that football side forward has the potential to set you back a long way. We’ve been convinced throughout that we have the right guy, the right people on the case and having that consistent support for him puts us in a position to now start to gather some momentum. 

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