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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Update on Former QPR Chairman, Chris Wright

All QPR fans would agree that the Chris Wright era made quite a difference to QPR! Was in charge for the Ray Wilkins firing; the Stuart Houston hiring and firing; the Ray Harford firing and hiring; the Gerry Francis hiring and departure; and Ian Holloway's appointment. Under Wright, QPR signed several expensive players on expensive wages; and put a number of youth players on long-term, expensive wages. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is not that he may have "failed" at QPR, but the manner in which he left; and the controversies surrounding our going into Administration. See Some of Wright's QPR Managerial hiring statements...

WASPS Official Site - London Wasps announce Steve Hayes as new owner
- London Wasps has today announced Steve Hayes as the new owner of the club.
Hayes, current Board member and Director of London Wasps, takes ownership of the club after purchasing the shares of Board Directors, Chris Wright and John O’Connell.
- Effective from today Hayes, a distinguished entrepreneur and Managing Director of Wycombe Wanderers Football Club, has also announced a new look Board which includes former club captains, Lawrence Dallaglio and Mark Rigby, long term business advisor Mike Brooks and current Board members John O’Connell, Ivor Montlake and Tony Copsey.
- Chris Wright, who stood at the helm of the club for over ten years, takes up the position of Life President and will continue to offer vital support to the club.
- Following a restructure of the club management this summer, Hayes and his Board will look to further strengthen all assets of the club as the business moves into 2009.
- Speaking at today’s press conference Steve Hayes said; “London Wasps is undeniably one of the most successful clubs in Europe on the pitch and, as we look to the future, I have a very clear vision which will incorporate and align all facets of the club to this level of success. We are determined to stay at the forefront of European Rugby, and whether coaches, players, board members or staff we all have a major role in supporting this vision.”
Paying tribute to Chris Wright and John O’Connell. Hayes also added; “These two men have played a vital part in establishing London Wasps as a successful club and I will value their support, advice and good counsel as we move forward”
Addressing the issues that have surrounded plans for a new stadium he said; “Having forged an excellent partnership with Wycombe District Council, who have demonstrated excellent forward thinking, we continue to make positive steps towards our goal of developing a new and improved stadium facility. For now, and the foreseeable future, we are committed to our current home but positive steps have been made to make our plans of development a realisation.”
As well as clarifying his position on stadium development, the new owner also said one of his first priorities will be to resolve all outstanding contract issues ahead of the New Year. “We have some outstanding talent at London Wasps. We must nurture that talent and ensure that it grows with us as we progress forward.”
On today’s announcement Hayes received wide praise and support from former Chairman Chris Wright.
“I have experienced some truly wonderful moments since the start of professional rugby and the formation of London Wasps.
“I have witnessed and participated in the development of the sport from its amateur stage through to the enormously successful club game it has become today. What we have achieved as a group of clubs, in England so far, is nothing short of spectacular. There is much to be done to continue this development but a very firm foundation has been built providing the base for continued growth. It's hard to remember that when my involvement with Wasps started we, along with many other major clubs, were playing in front of a couple of thousand people on what was little more than a park pitch.
“It has been an honour to have been pivotally involved in the club’s development but the mantel now passes to Steve Hayes to continue the progression and I have every faith in his ability to carry this on. He has comparative youth, energy and a passion for the game and I have no doubt that he will be hugely successful in taking the club forward. I would certainly like to wish him the very best of success and of course will be around in my capacity as Life President to help him should he feel the need to call on me.”
These sentiments were supported by John O’Connell, “Chris Wright invited me to be a Director in August 2004 and I have enjoyed enormously my association with London Wasps in the last four years, becoming Vice Chairman and most recently Chairman, during a period when the club has continued to enjoy great success. I look forward to supporting Steve and the rest of the Board in an exciting and challenging phase in the club's history.”
Also present at the press conference were CEO, Tony Copsey and Director of Rugby, Ian McGeechan. Both offered further tributes and backing for the club’s new owner.
Tony Copsey said “Steve and I joined the club at the same time and I have enjoyed a close and very positive working relationship with him in his role of Director. I believe that we share the same vision for the club and as he takes Wasps forward in this new chapter there is certainly much to look forward to. There have been some very positive changes made to the workings of the business side of Wasps over the 2008/09 season and under Steve’s leadership we can look again at taking the club to the next level. I am very excited at what lies ahead.” McGeechan adding;
“Steve has always been very proactive in his thinking about what’s required to take Wasps forward. As a Director he is a man who has been very supportive of the rugby side of the club and what we are trying to achieve and I am sure he will continue his positive influence as owner. We are very appreciative of the time and money that has been invested up until this point – allowing us to be a successful club. It is clear that things are continuing to develop on the business side and in order to compete in the long term we must look to moving forward yet again and I am sure in Steve Hayes we have the right man to lead us into the future.
On Lawrence Dallaglio and Mark Rigby’s appointment, McGeechan added; “The appointment of Lawrence and Mark to the Board shows there is a strong understanding of the rugby business as part of the new structure. Both men bring an understanding and passion for Wasps with them to their new roles, who have both always shown themselves to be strong and effective forward thinkers. I am looking forward to being a part of what should be an exciting future at the club.”
Continuing his eighteen year affiliation with the club, former captain Lawrence Dallaglio, who joins the Board to work largely on player recruitment and talent identification, will also take on the role of Patron of the London Wasps Academy Apprenticeship – Wasps development programme aimed at 16-18 year olds; “I am delighted to step into this position working alongside Steve. I have known Steve for ten years and, as a dynamic businessman with strong values and beliefs, know that he is a man who leads from the front.
“I hope I can provide a valuable service and perform a positive role for the club I played with for nearly two decades, helping to build on the success we have already enjoyed.”
With his new personnel in place Hayes and his team will now look to the challenge of the Heineken Cup which resumes this weekend with a trip to Edinburgh. Bolstered by the return of their international contingent, Wasps will be looking for success at Murrayfield in the first of back to back clashes with Andy Robinson’s Edinburgh. Qualification will be at the forefront of the club’s mind and with the Battle of the Capitals at Twickenham on the 17th January, where Wasps face Leinster, already commanding strong interest the new look management structure will be eager to make this game not only a success on pitch but also off.
Hayes concluded; “With such an exciting fixture so early into 2009, this game will provide an excellent platform to illustrate our ambition to take London Wasps to new levels. In a game which marks a clash between two champion sides, it is our focus to not only show our capability on pitch but to rise to the big occasions, utilizing the commercial opportunities and offering supporters rugby at its best. With sales already reaching the 12,000 mark we see the value of the decision to move to Twickenham and look forward to reaching our target of a full lower bowl.”

Evening Standard/Chris Jones - Chris Wright: Wasps cost millions but I loved the buzz
Chrysalis founder Chris Wright today relinquished control of London Wasps and admitted the 11 trophies won in 11 years had cost him "several million pounds".
Wright, whose money enabled Wasps to twice become the best team in Europe by collecting the Heineken Cup, has sold his majority share holding to Steve Hayes, who made an estimated £50million from the sale of his company Loans.co.uk.
After being unveiled as new owner today Hayes said: "London Wasps is undeniably one of the most successful clubs in Europe on the pitch, and as we look to the future, I have a very clear vision which will incorporate and align all facets of the club to this level of success.

"We are determined to stay at the forefront of European rugby, and whether coaches, players, board members or staff we all have a major role in supporting this vision."

Wright is set to become life president, while two former captains - Lawrence Dallaglio and Mark Rigby - will join the board.

"The appointment of Lawrence and Mark to the board shows there is a strong understanding of the rugby business as part of the new structure," director of rugby Ian McGeechan said.

"Both men bring an understanding and passion for Wasps with them to their new roles, who have both always shown themselves to be strong and effective forward thinkers."

Hayes has also bought the shares held by chairman John O'Connell, giving him all but a minor holding retained by the club's amateur section.

It allows Hayes, who is also the managing director of League Two leaders Wycombe Wanderers, the co-tenants at Adams Park, to assume total control of future planning, including a new 20,000-seat stadium.

Hayes is understood to have covered the most recent loss of £2.25m posted by the rugby operation. Hayes, Wright and O'Connell jointly agreed to put in £4.5m at the end of 2007 to highlight the continuing drain on resources.
Wright created Loftus Road plc in 1996, putting Queens Park Rangers and Wasps under the same umbrella, but later took the rugby club out of the partnership after becoming disillusioned with football.
It was a move that saw Wasps conquer Europe and also dominate the game in England.

Wright, who has become life president of Wasps, said: "Wasps cost me several millions, but I haven't worked out exactly how much.
"I am not walking away with a fat cheque and I am writing off quite a lot of money. When I look back at my time, I believe it was one of the most successful things I have been involved with in my career. There is an absolutely fabulous legacy with 11 trophies in 11 years.
"When I first got involved, Wasps were playing in a public park in Sudbury and what has been achieved is amazing.
"I am proud to know that I was a considerable part of Wasps and professional rugby in this country. I can walk away with my head high.
"When it was just me, it was easy to run the club along with a director of rugby.
"Then we became a committee when John and Steve invested in Wasps. I believe it is right that one makes the decisions and Steve wants to be that man. It's much better that way.
"Having done that for 11 years, I wouldn't have wanted to do it again and that is why I am now happy to take a back seat.
"It has been a fabulous journey and I have enjoyed every minute of it but at 64 I have my business to run in a difficult time and you can't do everything. I don't do things in half measures and it is very time consuming and a big emotional commitment.
"Steve is prepared to make that commitment and good luck to him. There is no acrimony."
Meanwhile, the Barbarians face Australia at Wembley tonight boasting two of the greatest wings the game has seen in Bryan Habana and Joe Rokocoko.
The match has been organised as part of the British Olympic Association's celebrations of the first London Olympics which saw Australia win the rugby gold medal in 1908 with a 32-3 victory over Great Britain, who were represented by Cornwall. Evening Standard

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