The Notebook: Giles Kenningham on improving Rugby’s fortunes, banning the bots and the renewable investment boom
The Notebook is a place for interesting people to say interesting things. Today, it’s Giles Kenningham, founder of Trafalgar Strategy.
Rugby must learn lessons as finances hit rock bottom
The Premier League is one of Britain’s biggest global exports. It’s the envy of football fans across the world. Testament to its pulling power is the fact we have countries queuing up to buy up clubs in the league.
Contrast that with rugby. Financially, the club game is in dire straits. Wasps and Worcester have gone bust, and Leicester Tigers are reportedly seeking permission to raise £13m through a share subscription to avoid breaching their banking contract.
CVC Capital Partners paid £200m for a 27 per cent stake in Premiership Rugby back in 2018 but changes have been slow and the pandemic may have damaged clubs’ finances irreparably.
It’s an open secret that rugby administrators are fearful of the class actions for repetitive concussions facing the sport.
But sanitising rugby so the danger is removed isn’t going to help and to the supporters which remain it seems strange that rugby union is changing its rules whilst rugby league, American football and boxing aren’t.
Many rugby administrators argue that rugby needs to broaden its appeal to increase participation and viewers and thereby increase media rights. But there are doubts as to whether changing the rule will succeed in broadening its appeal. What’s more, rugby’s existing audience is valuable – market research firm Nielsen called it “sizeable, mature and affluent”.
Much better to press ahead with promoting what rugby is.
The Netflix documentary being filmed over the Six Nations championship aimed at providing a behind the scenes look at the competition is a step in the right direction. On that point, a brand that is often synonymous with rugby is Guinness. Sponsors of the Six Nations, last month it became the number one beer sold in British pubs for the first time.
Rugby chiefs should spend some time looking at what Guinness did to achieve that accolade. Mainly, it was really good marketing. One thing it definitely wasn’t was messing around with the product.
Musk do better
Elon Musk has courted controversy nearly every day since he took the helm at Twitter. For my money, top of his intray should be banning anonymous accounts. It’s an absolute disgrace that we still have a situation where people can get away with spouting bile from their bedrooms hiding behind some pseudonym. I suspect if many of these keyboard warriors had to front up their words, the platform may be a much more civilized and safer place.
As we count down to the Spring Budget, the Chancellor will be looking to make a raft of savings. It has always puzzled me why we’ve never had a dedicated procurement minister for Whitehall. The government has bigger buying power than most FTSE 100 companies yet still operates in silos with departments buying on their own instead of taking advantage of the massive economies of scale. This approach is mirrored in local government with one council buying a book for £5, another the same book for £10. Madness.
Renewable investment boom
Some good news amidst the economic gloom came on Monday of last week with the latest figures showing global investment in low carbon energy hit a record high of $1.1 trillion dollars, according to Bloomberg.
The biggest chunk of spending went on renewable energy and electrified transport, both vital to getting the world on the road towards a sustainable future. The more daunting news is that global investment still needs to increase threefold if we are to reach the bold target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Can I quote you on that?
Giving absolutely everything of yourself to this job is the only way to do it. The country deserves nothing less. But, in truth, that can only be done, by anyone, for so long. For me, it is now in danger of becoming too long.Nicola Sturgeon on her departure from the top job
No little house on the prairie
Season two of Clarkson’s Farm has been captivating viewing. It showcases everything that’s great about England. A fantastic cast of contrasting characters, beautiful countryside, mouth watering local food and community spirit in action. It also sadly shows everything that’s wrong with our bureaucracy as an army of clipboard wielding local government bureaucrats aim to thwart Clarkson’s attempts to build a car park and restaurant to support his thriving farm shop. Obscure planning objections including fears of light pollution win the day, despite the fact the business would have created 50 jobs and supported other local farms in the area. Is it any wonder that with a planning system that has so many vested interests we haven’t built enough homes?