Leicester – A lesson for Roland

CAS Trust Board Member Richard Hunt pens a self-confessed "caffeine-fuelled rant" to our owner:

Dear Mr Duchatelet,

It occurred to me today that you might be taking comfort or even refuge in Leicester's success. You may argue that it shows you don't have to spend big to succeed. That is true. Unfortunately if you look beneath the "bonnet" of the two clubs, everything is completely different.

1. Objectives. Clearly neither owner sees their club as primarily a money making venture. Both of you have tried to do things differently. However it is clear that Leicester's owners primarily seek "success" on the pitch, just not at any price, and believe everything else positive flows from that. As far as anyone can tell, you seek to show that it is possible to run football clubs at break-even. As an objective, this has nothing to do with sport -  the human pastime your customers and the wider audience are "buying".

2. Both of you have sought to over-achieve compared with the playing budget. Leicester have succeeded. You have failed. We have the third lowest playing budget in the league. We may, if we are lucky, finish in third lowest position. This is logical, is it not? How did Leicester apparently defy logic?

3. They did this by:

- maintaining the excellent tradition of sports science by retaining the team that delivered it; thus producing a team that is fitter and more injury free than their rivals
- they bought players who were not just cheap but fitted and bought into the ethos of the club
- when changing the coach, keeping in place all the background staff which had over-achieved in the previous years

4. By contrast you:

- allowed to leave all the professional backroom staff with any expertise in 'backroom' areas
- thought on-field overachievement would be provided (only) by the network model
- put the club in the hands of a 29 year old junior lawyer, with no experience of running a company of any kind; no experience of leading a large unit of people; and no experience whatsoever that would allow her to identify excellence in sports science or player recruitment
- have shown contempt for and destroyed the ethos of the club that had previously brought success

5. The two owners' stewardship of the club is markedly different:

- they delegate to qualified management. You micro-manage
- they maintained and developed the relationship with the Foxes Trust. You shunned all dialogue with organised fan groups
- they were visible around the ground on match days ande snapped in fan selfies. You do not attend matches
- when they changed the coach, they asked the fans to trust them. When you changed the coach five times, we were told through your emissary that "we just have to accept it"

Furthermore much the same situation can be discerned at all the other clubs you own. Not one of them has exceeded reasonable expectation this season. Fans continue to loudly express their discontent at most of them. If any are delivering any profit to Staprix, this still cannot balance the losses you incur at Charlton.

The rational, business-based evidence therefore is that your strategy for success in football is a complete failure, on any normal measure, and without exception. Leicester simply helps to highlight your key mistakes.

The sensible conclusion is that you do not as a businessman possess the necessary skill set to make a success of football. There is no shame in this (in the eyes of your peers) if you move swiftly to acknowledge it. Successful businessmen often fail when moving outside sectors where they have learnt what brings success (ask Richard Branson). Accept it, and sell without doing further damage. You may even redeem yourself if you sell to owners who properly understand the learnings from Leicester.