What is your interest in rugby and why are you getting involved with London Wasps?
I am a huge rugby fan and have always admired London Wasps and its past achievements. When an opportunity arose to get involved with the Club, I saw it as a challenge definitely worth going for. There is a hugely positive heritage that you inherit when you get involved with London Wasps and I believe that there is a massive opportunity here to turn the Club once again into a significant force in the game, both on and off the pitch. The squad itself is very exciting and I am really impressed with Dai Young and with his plans to take it forward. We’ve got a core of some of the best young talent in England here and having re-signed a number of those key players recently and having added quality signings on top of that, I believe on the rugby front, we are really going places. I also think this is generally a very good time to get involved in rugby, a sport that is generating more and more visibility, which the recent TV deal with BT Sport attests to, and I’m excited to be part of it.
Are you looking to bring in any more investors with you?
The new shareholding make-up of the Club includes investment from a couple of other individuals, who for now wish to remain in the background. Further down the line that may change and we may well seek additional investment as various strategic projects get off the ground.
What is your business background?
My background is in the insurance industry which is an industry I followed my father into in the 1980s in Ireland. One of the businesses I would be most known for was an online mass market insurance business called 123.ie which I sold in 2010 to Royal Sun Alliance. I currently have a number of business interests in this industry. These include a brand called Hello, which is an online financial services business operating currently in Ireland, and Richardson Insurance Solutions which is a corporate insurance broking business, based in Dublin. I also have an insurance business rolling out in the Czech Republic which we hope to expand in Europe over the next few years.
The Club is losing a significant amount of money every year – how do you propose changing this?
Increasing revenue is an important part of a five-year strategic plan which we are currently finalising. There is a combination of ways we can do this. Very obviously we want to increase revenue from ticket sales, increase sponsorship income and then longer term generate vital revenue through owning or co-owning our own stadium.
What are your short-term aims?
Financial stability is currently the most important priority we have. Our aim is to reduce the Club’s debt to zero as quickly as we can and supplement this with a rise in revenue from the sponsorship programme and ticket sales primarily. In terms of the actual rugby side, we would love to be back playing Heineken Cup rugby and pushing for a place in the top four in the league in the next few years and we believe that Dai Young is putting in place a squad well capable of achieving these aims. There are also lots of other areas we want to improve and invest in including the Club’s Academy and youth structures, which are hugely important for the future and also developing a very strong management team to lead the Club commercially.
What are your longer-term aims?
As mentioned above, we feel it is vital that we own or co-own our own ground. This is something we have already begun exploring but, as you can appreciate, it is a project that will take some time and it is something we will keep you informed of as and when we make progress. We are also very keen to invest in new training and administrative facilities for the Club and this is another project that is already underway and should be something we can advance quickly over the next year or so.
If the Club is to move ground – where would your ideal location be? Would you consider another ground-share?
We are not interested in a ground-share, which is prohibitive in terms of helping us to become self-sustainable. We are currently looking at sites and co-ownership options. Ideally we believe that West London is a natural future home for London Wasps but we are exploring lots of options at a very initial stage at the moment.
What role will you have specifically with the Club?
My plan is to be heavily involved in the initial stages of planning for the future and then having a non-executive role going forward. I do not intend having a hands-on, day-to-day role but I will be involved in a variety of strategic projects and specific areas where I can add value. I will also be working closely with CEO Nick Eastwood as we build a strong management team to take us forward.
When will the new board be announced?
We are finalising this right now and we aim to have this announced as quickly as possible.