Lots going on at the moment, both in business and with the horses.
Last Tuesday was a Swindon Town strategy day. We wanted an outsider to chair it and we got Roger Munby, ex chairman and CEO of Norwich, to do the honours. He made a big impression on me – a committed and hard working man who helped to built the club up by concentrating on community values. He made a comment early on that summed up his philosophy – “we never refer to our supporters as customers – they are much more important than that”.
There was a sad side to the story – Norwich have performed poorly in recent years and were relegated to league 1 last year, and Roger had to endure a lot of abuse before he resigned. Football is a tough world for those that care. He wasn’t the type to complain, and on the plus side he had a text in the meeting telling him he’d become a grandfather. It was a good meeting.
On Wednesday I travelled to north London for a BettorLogic board meeting. I went from there to Kempton to watch Looby Loo run – I met up with Tom Goff beforehand. We spent a while going through the horses and discussing strategy for next year. Looby looked fit going into the race – her price was on the slide, which seems to happen with expensive horses that aren’t going to live up to the price tag. I wasn’t going to back her but the odds were so long that I decided to have a fair sized bet.
She broke poorly and was rushed along to sit behind the main group. There was a lot of sand coming up into her face and she didn’t like it – when they hit the straight Alan pulled her wide to get away from the flying sand. She came with a late run but it was too late and she came second in a photo, extending my recent run of second places. She should win next time.
Thursday was a Swindon board meeting – I got there early which gave me the chance for a look around the ground. One of my problems with the County Ground is that (although there are plenty of good hospitality facilities) there are no boxes – I wandered around with Nick Watkins, the CEO. There wasn’t a lot on the agenda in the board meeting – we’re going the right way but we need to keep tightening the screws.
A quick question: who has had the most draws this season – Swindon Town or the entire Premiership?
I went home after the board, changed into smarter gear and headed up to town to go to a film premiere. I invested in a film called “Morris – a life with bells on” a few years back – when I invested I expected to lose my money and I still do, but it managed a premiere at least. When I got there I found that someone else had been given my tickets – it turned out that one of the actors in the film was also called Andrew Black, and my tickets had been given to a mate of his. They found me another couple of seats.
The film was decent – I thought it was a little too long and not all of the humour worked for me, but it was a credible effort. There were lots of celebs at the launch party – Derek Jacobi, Emma Thompson and Greg Wise were all nearby.
On Friday morning Jane flew off to Portugal for a long weekend with some girl friends. She left me a detailed instruction booklet outlining everything I had to do over the time she was away, all typed up in big bold letters. Her mother also moved in for the weekend. There were no problems.
On Tuesday I played golf at Goodwood – the first time I’ve played there. I turned up in shorts. I asked if there was a dress code, and the pro laughed – apparently it’s not that sort of club. Lord March, who owns the whole Goodwood estate, is an exceptionally popular and laid back guy, but he is also an innovative business thinker and has done great things with the Goodwood estate. Ed and I are in the finals of the entrepreneur of the year contest next week, and Lord March is in our section.
A nswering the draw question – Swindon have had six draws this season and there have been four in the Premiership. Four draws by this stage is an unbelievably low number, and bookmakers throughout the land are losing fortunes on their soccer multiples as a result.
I have a runner at Goodwood today – Morana is short odds on to land the first. We think a lot of him and he should be a bit of a cert – it’s a slight concern that he is running over a furlong less on fairly solid ground, so it’s not one to be having a bet on IMO.