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March-April
’08 Global Gallery

…PSA search
… Richmond … on sponsors
… Melissa in London… more

Global Gallery,
March 31st, 2008

The Monthly Round-up of the Interesting and
Inane of Squash this month from
Martin Bronstein, dean of the Squash Press

© 2008 All
rights reserved.
all photos© 2008, Debra Tessier and Fritz Borchert

BYE
BYE BRIARS

Gawain
Briars has worked his last day as the Chief Executive of the PSA and
I don’t think there will much mourning.
 
The
press release  announcing his “retirement”  [Alice
in Wonderland:
“Words mean exactly what you want them to
mean”]  made a big deal  of the fact that during
his time, the  tour prize money  doubled.   During
the same period Andrew Shelley, WISPA’s chief executive, quadrupled the
women’s tour prize money. And we all know that women’s
squash is a harder sell to promoters.
 
However,
a friend who knows more about the world of finance than I do, pointed
out that the prize money is in US dollars and between 1999 and 2008,
the dollar declined against the GBP by about 35 percent. Add to that
the yearly inflation over nine years  and
he reckons that actual worth of the prize money has increased by a
mere 25-30%.
 
Also
the press release says the number of events has increased from 100
to 371. So nearly a fourfold increase in events while the prize money
has just doubled.  Do I have to spell it
out ?
 
THE SEARCH FOR A NEW MAN
So
now the PSA are looking for a replacement. The job specs – which
I am told are the same that applied to Briars when he got the job – are
comprehensive. I don’t know how Briars even got in the door.
 
So
who will help select the next chief executive?  I had a conversation
with Alex Gough – a mamber of the PSA board- and suggested that they
get outside people to help  ensure they get the right person for
the job. Why not bring in Susie Simcock and Andrew Shelley ?  Gough  was
not taken up with that suggestion.  But I earnestly implore them
to hire an experienced  consultant/ head hunter who knows more about
these things than the present board of directors, whose expertise, for
the most part, is playing squash. The next man must be more experienced
in business than squash, must know how to negotiate in a totally businesslike
and  ethical fashion, has to know about marketing and last  but
not least, be an excellent communicator both with his members and with
promoters. 
 
I
for one would look forward  to working pleasantly with the
PSA again.  It has been a long time……
 
SPONSORSHIP: THE PITFALLS AND THE HARD WORK
 I cannot count how many times people have told me about their
grand plans for a ‘major tournament’ and said: “All
we need is a sponsor”.  Poor fools….all we need?
It is the hardest thing in the world to convince a corporation to give
hard cash  in exchange for their name on a tournament.
 
Sometimes
it comes easy. Like the Windy City Open which was the biggest tournament
in the US because two members of the University Club, where it was
staged, worked for SSA Global and as they held senior positions, the
money was there, no argument.  But then SSA Global were bought
by another company and poof! the money was gone. The Windy City’s
$100,000 disappeared in a cloud of corporate trading.
 
Bears
Stearns were great solid sponsors of the Tournament of Champions in
New York.  Bears Stearns, a victim of the present financial implosion,
went poof! and were bought by JP Morgan for  sixpence.  Will
Morgans be as amenable to John Nimick? I certainly hope so.
 
Whereas
over in Richmond, Virginia where the  Davenport Professional
Squash championship was held as part of the Players Cup series,  Gus
Cooke has done a shrewd job of getting many members of the Country Club
of Virginia  (where this tournament originated five years ago) involved
as sponsors.  While Davenport gets its name above the title, I am
quite sure that if they dropped out,  the other sponsors would step
in. I think it is called hedging your bets.
 
Gus
worked incredibly hard, got the details – all of them –
right and so produced a very successful tournament, staged in the University
of Richmond’s gym.  If the State of Virginia and the City
of Richmond are clever they will give Gus full and continuing support
and make The Davenport a regular and unique sporting fixture
in the life of Virginians.
 
I
spoke to many of the Country Club’s members and they were
truly thrilled to be associated with such a classy event.  And this
is some country club – they have three golf courses! It costs $70,000
to join. I don’t play golf so decided not to join.
 
I
was the MC for the event and made two memorable slips of the tongue.   In
introducing  Aaron Frankcomb I said that he was fast improving and “hungry
for sex”. I tried to correct myself by saying “hungry for
success” but the spectators were laughing too hard. 
And
then, oh! I’m still cringing, I introduced Thierry Lincou  as “ Thierry
Henry” who is, of course, that wonderful French soccer player.
Each
time I meet Lincou now, I  blush  and
apologise yet again. He just laughs. Oh the ignominy.
 
CANARY SINGS BEAUTIFULLY
Despite
world weariness  after spending 16 days on the road
in Richmond and Boston,  I still managed to drag myself to Canary
Wharf, despite the jet lag.  I was glad I did because  it is
evident that this glass structure in the new world of Canary Wharf, makes
the best venue that I know of in Britain today.  It has all the
right proportions and with 500 people jammed in, the place has a terrific
buzz.  There is no seating in front of the front wall, which is
is one of the drawbacks but everything else about it, location, parking,
public transport  and food facilities, is perfect.  I hope
sponsors ISS are happy and continue for many years to come (they have
already committed to 2009).  Congratulations to Alan Thatcher, Peter
Nicol, Tim Garner and Angus Kirkland on  this success and  their
straightforward dealings with the players and the press.
 
MELISSA THE MISTRESS OF MANAGEMENT
It
was good to see that Canary Wharf had imported Melissa Winstanly to
help with ticket sales.  It occurred to me that if any tournament
needs someone to advise them on tournament management, Melissa Winstanley
is the lady to call on. As part of  EventEngine, she has been putting
on tournaments in Boston, Toronto and New York for a decade or more.  And
when you consider some of the obstacles thrown at EventEngine,  9/11
being the worst, not to mention some outrageous disloyalty from the PSA
management, Melissa knows how to handle it all.  And she does it
all with a smile on her face. I have yet to see her in a panic. If there
is  an American Squash Hall of Fame, induct her now. This very instant.
 
ARE THERE ANY JAZZ YODELLERS?
I’m taking a break from squash for a few months.  If I
get a bed in Swtizerland for the Men’s Junior World championships
in July, I might sample the Swiss air and practise my jazz from the mountain
tops.  Am studying the chords for ‘Mountain Greenery” for
some jazz yodeling.
Google