Optimum Procurement in Sport Forum: Winning on and off the pitch

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Optimum Procurement in Sport Forum: Winning on and off the pitch

Last week I attended the Procurement in Sport Forum hosted by Optimum Procurement at the Old Trafford cricket ground. With Ashes cricket coming back to Old Trafford in 2013 there’s a lot of investment going into the ground and effective procurement is a key part of this.

There were 3 good speakers from different areas of sport – football, motorcycle racing and cricket. They didn’t talk a lot about procurement per se but the underlying theme is that in every sport it’s not just about the players – but the wider team and an effective (and invisible) back office. A bit like an iceberg the majority of activity is hidden below the surface.

Robert Elstone, CEO of Everton Football Club, made the case that despite frequent complaints that the ‘money men’ have spoiled the beautiful game; the Premier League is one of the country’s great export businesses. Every Saturday a £2bn business springs into life and it’s a business that’s thriving as evidenced by the new TV rights deal - valued at 70% more than the previous. The numbers are amazing with the top 4 Premier League clubs earning 50% and 40% more than their Italian and Spanish counterparts respectively.

Next up was Bradley Smith; if you don’t know the name, he rides in Moto2 - the class just below MotoGP - but is moving to the latter with the Yamaha Tech3 team next season. For someone that had been leading the field at Silverstone just 3 days before and riding toe-to-toe and elbow-to-elbow at speeds of 150mph, he seemed remarkably relaxed. One point many people don’t realise is how incredibly fit these riders need to be and it was the team ethic – dieticians and physical trainers alongside all the engineering (and procurement!) stuff that shone through. For every MotoGP weekend there are some 3,000 supporting staff that make the whole thing tick.

Finally, Jim Cumbes, Chief Exec of Lancashire County Cricket Club gave a fascinating insight of his career in business and sport. He’s the only person to appear in a final at Lords (bowling for Surrey) and at Wembley (in goal for Aston Villa) which is quite a feat. But he’s also gone on to be very successful in business – bringing Ashes cricket back to Old Trafford, batting off legal challenges that went all the way to the High Court.

In these times of austerity and double dip recession, it’s great to see the businesses that are succeeding. A bit like Bradley’s step up from Moto2 to MotoGP (120bhp to 200+bhp) Lancashire has seen a significant step change with a doubling of turnover as test cricket arrives. Congratulations also to Optimum themselves who were celebrating their 5th birthday and in that time have grown successfully from 4 to 40 employees.

As the speeches finished the blinds went up to reveal a splendid view of the cricket ground and then on across Manchester to the Pennines in the distance. Having not watched 20/20 cricket before, all I can say is it’s not much fun if you’re a bowler…entertaining nonetheless.

- Jonathan Betts


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