Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rex: the new Body in charge

Gloucestershire recently voted in their new chairman, Rex Body, TheShireBlog asks whether Rex is the man of the future...

The boardroom has spoken, Rex Body is the new chairman of Gloucestershire. With the on-field improvements and off-field proposals, will he be the man to lead the Shire into a new dawn?

Possibly, if the current standing of the club was sufficient to sail into a new era. But a heavy financial loss and difficulties in developing the ground suggest that more than window dressing is required.

Rex is a true Gloucestershire man I'm sure. 11 years of service, deputy chairman and executive board member in charge of ground development. A fine chap, worthy of such a role. But worthiness and suitability are two entirely different issues and is where this blog raises an eyebrow.

I'm all for continuity with traditional sports clubs. Leicester Tigers RFC are the prime example of keeping people who know the club in the club and continuing to produce success - things didn't quite work for them when the South African Heyneke Meyer was appointed head coach.

The Tigers have been very shrewd animals and have experienced clubmen and businessmen in place to run the club. Chairman Peter Tom was chief executive of Aggregate Industries and made 130 appearances for Leicester in the 1960's.

Now a similar man in Gloucestershire may simply not exist, let alone be available, but it would seem appointing a lapdog to the previous regime is not going to provide the change most members would accept is required to move forward.

Many would argue fresh impetus is what Gloucestershire require. Most question its running as a business and a cricket club and the promotion of an old-stager along the front bench may be seen as an Iain Duncan-Smith when a David Cameron is called upon.

Rex Body has worked on the plans for the development of Nevil Road for a long time and is the ideal person to push through those plans. Great, if those plans are the best for the club’s future. But this appointment is an acceptance that these plans are the best, no negotiation; an insider on the job isn't going to reassess his hard work in a hurry.

Will Rex’s priority be to sort the ground out so everyone can breathe a momentary sigh of relief? Granted the ground issue is one of vital importance for the club but is a one-dimensional effort going to reap the best results?

Bath rugby club have toiled away for years trying to address their ground problems. Eventually, they realised they were failing to see the wood for the trees and hired Nick Blofeld - a man who revolutionised Epsom racecourse - to provide the fresh impetus the project requires.

What else of the new chairman? Is he to use his new-found powers to make an impact in the marketing or merchandising departments? Does a man who distinctly served Rolls Royce for many years posses such ideas? Or is that not his job? A more cynical author may suggest the chairman is only there to drink with the shareholders; I’m sure Peter Tom CBE would consider otherwise.

What is the new chairman going to do? What did the outgoing chairman do? If you look hard enough there are facial similarities. One wonders whether the similarities stretch to pound-note blindedness over the Sky television issue.

What the outgoing chairman did not do was stick around for any great length of time. How long will the age and wisdom of Rex Body last at the helm? Long enough to oversee a county championship victory? Long enough to shake off the reliance on ECB handouts?

A cliché perhaps, but only time will tell is the fairest conclusion. But is Rex Body the forward-thinking initiator Tom Richardson requested to work alongside him? A pause for thought indeed.
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