Ex-football chief's fiery baptism running a Premiership rugby club
Ex-Wolves managing director Laurie Dalrymple could never have imagined the fire-fighting he would be involved with just a few months after trading football for rugby in England. Premier League football’s TV billions means the coronavirus pandemic stoppage of sport hasn’t been as drastic in soccer as it has been in Premiership Rugby where Dalrymple has been working since November as Harlequins’ new CEO.
Wage cuts of 25 per cent have been the norm across the board among playing squad in the league while staff at many organisations have been furloughed as rugby’s top-flight attempts to ride out the financial crisis that has tested the sport’s economics like never before.
In the eye of the storm at The Stoop is Dalrymple, who in recent months succeeded David Ellis after he had been at the club since the 2011 departure of Mark Evans. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Dalrymple gave an insight into how the pandemic has given the club time to reflect and plot a successful future.
“This has massively magnified my desire for us to be more successful, a more visible club with a broader fan-base, to compete harder and to be better people. We want to win this league as fast as possible – and share that aspiration with eleven other clubs.
“I firmly believe we’ve got the capability to do that quickly. With some down-time now we can hopefully come through this as a stronger business. If we don’t utilise the opportunity you’ve got while sport is paused to reflect on areas of change then we’ve missed an opportunity.
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“I’m coming into Quins with a fresh pair of eyes. Rugby is going through an evolution, which is only a positive thing. The failing would be to resort to type. There’s every likelihood there will be some changes to our sport that will benefit the sport as a whole.
“A chance to re-evaluate will allow us to be better in the future. Quins have got a huge opportunity to do things differently and to succeed on the field. How we come together now is important.
“I’d be lying if I said these weren’t worrying times. Whether in football, rugby or any business there is no text-book for this, no chapter in a management text-book to say ‘right, here we go, here’s where we don’t turnover any money for three months’.
“It’s difficult. There are serious threats and risks to people’s welfare, safety and security, and there is a risk to the business… but when you’ve had such a threat to your existence it makes you value it more.”
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