Professionalism in Sports Governance

Today’s announcement by the ECB that Brit Insurance has chosen not to extend its sponsorship of the England Cricket Team has again highlighted the need for professionalism, transparency and consistency in sports governance.  The recent events surrounding KPGate have highlighted poor performance by senior ECB management which must surely have adversely impacted on the Brit Insurance brand, to the extent that Brit have had enough.

Yates does not blame Brit Insurance in any way for its decision.  When a business chooses to associate itself with a sport or a sports club, it does so to improve its brand awareness.  The business takes into account the sport, the nature of its conduct, that of its supporters and how that fits in with its corporate responsibility policy (if it has one).

Equally the sport/club must also look at the potential sponsor and see whether that company and the way it does business is one it wishes to align itself with.  In an ideal scenario both sport/club and sponsor are reasonably well suited to each other, conduct themselves in a professional, decent manner and have clear commitments to corporate and community responsibility.

Over recent years cricket governance hasn’t covered itself in glory.  Recent times in particular have shown cricket governance in a very negative light:

When a sponsor associates itself with a sporting team it also associates itself with that team’s governing body.  Players are expected to behave in a manner which reflects well on the sponsor brand. Yates firmly believes that the same expectation is placed on administrators and senior management.  They are supposed to be the brains behind the whole organisation and structure of English cricket.  If the governing body shows itself to be anything negative then brand damage occurs.  Quite how much brand damage has occurred as a result of the last few months of the ECB’s mishandling of things is anyone’s guess but it cannot be coincidence that Brit Insurance’s decision has come now.

Statements announcing decisions not to renew sponsorships are usually laden with businessballs language, stuff like realignment, new strategic objectives and the like.  Such language is clearly intended to mask any disappointments or disagreements and to suggest a parting on good terms.

The conclusion is clear.  Cricket governance needs to be far more professional, transparent and consistent.  Cricket South Africa seem to be heading along the right sort of lines but Yates offers a very clear warning:

Be very wary of giving accountancy types authority outside of their beancounting box and never promote them to a position of leadership or management of others.

The lesson is clear.  It should not come as a major revelation but appears to be missed by so many.  Idea Engineers is worth reading.  Just because someone is in receipt of a salary for a job does not mean that person is professional.  Being professional is a whole host of things which, judging by that list above, those involved in cricket governance are not.

A cursory glance at other sports suggests that other sports have their halfwitted moments too.  Are any as bad or worse than cricket?