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Interviews

INTERVIEW: Businessman Andrew Lapping on investment in the club

24 April 2015

Businessman Andrew Lapping talks to the official website

Businessman and investor Andrew Lapping spoke in-depth with the official website this week about the ongoing process which will put the club on a much stronger footing ahead of the 2015/16 season.

You mentioned earlier in the week that Heads of Terms had been distributed to the relevant parties, so where are we at with that part of the process at this moment in time? 

I’m pleased to say that all interested parties are now in agreement and, as a result of that, we’re moving into legal and financial diligence. Lawyers and accountants have been instructed and we’re now pushing on towards execution, which I’m targeting to be completed for the middle to the end of June. 

It is the natural next question to ask – how long does that period of due diligence take because it is quite a complicated process?

It always depends what kind of business you’re looking at. We’ve obviously got a reasonable steer from John Nixon and Suzanne Kidd from within the club, in this case, and they’ve been able to show us where the club is at in terms of its current financial status. The more complicated thing will be the redrafting of the constitution and the new shareholders’ agreement. Going forward it’s obviously important that the new constitution will protect the club’s prime assets, which are effectively Brunton Park and its franchise. It’s the drafting of these new documents which is difficult, on the legal side of things, because they have to be worded correctly and we obviously all have to sign up to them. I don’t foresee any problems with that so, like I say, the aim is to have everything finalised and formalised by middle to late June.

I take it the restructuring of the CUFC Holdings board is also a key part of the changes to be made in the next few months? 

That forms part of the Heads of Terms and, again, I’m pleased to say it has all been agreed. That’s another milestone we can tick off.

What does that mean to the CUFC 1921 Ltd board of directors and the way that functions at the moment? 

I’m looking at the 1921 board as being the engine room of the football club going forward. It will deal with the day to day trading, from football to marketing and interaction with the local community. The 1921 board will effectively be a full-time working executive board. Hence I’m looking to recruit a new managing director and a new commercial manager. Both of those appointments are on track and we’re hoping the commercial manager will be in place within a relatively short period of time.

It’s been noticeable that there hasn’t been a rush to fill those two key positions. It appears it’s a process designed to make sure you get the right people in to do the job?

We’ve appointed a recruitment agency to sift through a number of applicants and we’re a long way down the road to appointing the marketing / commercial manager. Four of us interviewed the first three applicants from the six short-listed candidates last week. We have another three to interview next Friday and the decision will be made on that position shortly thereafter. We want that person on board as quickly as possible because we need to hit the ground running on the commercial side of the business so that we’re ready, or even ahead of the game, once we get to the start of next season. The managing director is a key role because that’s the person who will be running the club day to day. We’ll start to interview for that post within the course of the next fortnight. The recruitment agency has told me that the level of applicant, in terms of quality, is sensational. That tells me we aren’t viewed as an outpost or as a little football club. We’re of interest to some seriously capable and clever people, and that’s exactly what I’m looking for.

Is it important that these two people have football backgrounds and football industry knowledge, or are you looking for something different - perhaps new ideas and a dynamic approach?

I’m looking for dynamism, someone with a glint in their eye and a clear indication that there is real drive and passion for the job. These people will be tasked with driving the club forward, so if they come from outside the industry, I don’t have a problem with that. I’m open minded, to be honest, and particularly when it comes to the MD role. At Motherwell we appointed a young lady to the chief executive position who hadn’t experienced life in the football industry at all. She came in and did a fantastic job. In fact, she’s now running Hibs. It doesn’t necessarily mean we have to appoint from within football just because we’re a football club. The next key stage for us is to meet the remaining candidates for our commercial position and all of the candidates for the MD role. Once we’ve done that we can take it from there. 

I know when you first went public with your intentions you told us that we needed to get away from the comfort blanket of having one or two people constantly propping the club up financially. How important are the two positions we’ve just spoken about going to be in helping us to achieve the self sustainability you’ve spoken about? 

I think I’ve said over and over that I want this club to be the best it can be. That means we need to employ the best people to run it and take it forward. Beyond that, the implication is that if we employ the best people then we will have a much improved income and revenue stream, leading from positive performances on and off the field. I am very excited about what is to come because I think what we’re doing will reinvigorate the club. That isn’t meant as any disrespect to the present regime because they’ve done a good job in difficult circumstances. My strategy all the way along has been to create a platform from which the club can push on, and that’s the background to everything we do as we go on from here.

Have the interviews conducted with the three commercial manager candidates so far highlighted avenues and raised ideas which can be implemented and exploited fairly quickly after the appointment is made?

What has come out of the interview process for me is that the club, and largely because of situations it has faced these last few years, has been a little bit stuck in place. The world has moved on a bit, particularly in terms of social media, the internet and how businesses interact with their customers and their marketing base. I’ve learned from the interviews we’ve conducted that there is an awful lot we can do, on the social media and internet side in particular, which will enhance the fan experience. For me, the commercial manager / director is the person who will create this experience for us all. 

Click HERE for part two of this interview.

Click HERE for part three of this interview.

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