An interview with Ray Ranson!

Discussion in 'Coventry City General Chat' started by Nick, Aug 5, 2009.

  1. Nick

    Nick Administrator

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    Ray Ranson’s move into the hot seat at Coventry City towards the end of 2007 marked the beginning of a new era for Coventry City.

    Ray’s hands-on style embracing both the commercial and playing sides of the club is already paying dividends with annual losses reduced and improved results on the pitch.

    And if you also add the fact that the former England Schoolboys and Youth International is one of only three former professional footballers who are currently Chairmen of soccer clubs in the Football League (including Niall Quinn of Sunderland and Dave Whelan of Wigan) you begin to build a picture why the Sky Blues supremo has a track record and respected name in the game that ensures his calls are personally answered whether he is picking up the telephone to the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson or Kevin Keegan…..

    Ray is rightly proud of his former soccer career in the top flight which he saw service at major clubs including
    Manchester City (twice), Birmingham City, Newcastle United and Reading as well as a Wembley Cup Final appearance in 1981, after his soccer skills were spotted as a talented youngster by
    soccer scouts in his native St.Helens. Today, he looks back on his soccer career as a very useful ‘apprenticeship’ which helped to lay the foundations for his second successful career in business which began in sports finance and
    insurance and now of course involves his personal investment in Coventry City FC.

    A career in business was always in the sights of the young ambitious Ranson even when he was a player with high
    flying Manchester City at the peak of his soccer career. He loved playing football but knew that there was a life after the game and in 1991 formed his own business having identified a niche in the sports market. Before long, using his
    contacts in soccer to help open doors, he had built up a successful company specialising in personal indemnity, contingency insurance and personal accident insurance for players, devoting his free time after training and during
    holidays to expand his fledgling business. Thoughts of a career as a manager or coach at the end of his playing days did not appeal to him because of the ‘insecurity’ and he even turned down a coaching job in 1992
    with Kevin Keegan at Newcastle. Eventually, the entrepreneurial Ranson had his big business break when he met
    Matthew Harding in 1995 and formed a joint venture with the Benfield Group, one of the biggest success stories in the reinsurance market at the time. The company at its height was one of the most profitable private companies in
    Europe and its interest in developing a sports arm presented Ray with a fantastic business opportunity. Sadly, the
    major shareholder Matthew Harding was killed in a helicopter crash and Ray Ranson still talks fondly of his
    relationship with the former Chelsea FC Vice Chairman. Ray eventually left Benfield in 2002 to pursue other interests in the sports arena.

    “Thankfully when Benfield floated in 2003 I think the market capitalisation of the business then was about £750
    million and fortunately I was a small shareholder,”he said.

    In 2004 Ranson acquired ProZone, a sports analysis business tracking players movements and performance data and soon turned the loss making business into profit. “Most clubs in my opinion don’t utilise the software of ProZone to anything like its maximum potential.They can get a lot more out of it. I bet most only use 30 or 40 per cent of what it’s capable of doing. And it’s not just because I owned the business until recently that I say that, I am a big believer that it’s a fantastic tool and used to its full potential it has huge benefits. Everybody uses it differently for example Sam Allardyce uses it in a different way to how Mourhinio did. When I arrived at Coventry we didn’t have it. We simply couldn’t afford it. Now we have it and I know how to utilise its potential for the club, ”he said. He has since recently sold ProZone.

    He also made serious moves towards buying a football club and personally approached Aston Villa without success
    before building a relationship 2 years ago with UK owned company SISU to work together to identify and invest in a
    football club. SISU and Ray Ranson identified clubs including Southampton and Manchester City before making an approach to buy Coventry City. The acquisition strategy was clearly defined. The remit was to find a traditional club with a loyal fan base and good quality stadium. Coventry City and the potential of the Ricoh Arena fitted the bill perfectly particularly with its history and loyal fan base. Coventry City is of course no stranger to ambitious individuals who have broken the mould in the game…. Sky Blues legend Jimmy Hill made his mark in soccer in the 60’s as a visionary and as the ‘architect’ behind the abolition of the players’ maximum wage who went on to steer the club from the third to first division. His innovative style and marketing skills ensured that the Sky Blues were never far from the headlines.

    Ray Ranson, the club’s dynamic young Chairman, is undoubtedly a modern-day visionary but the difference from Jimmy Hill is that he is not only experienced in soccer but is equipped with proven business experience and skills and as a result has clear business objectives of where he plans to take Coventry City over the next couple of years working closely with the owners of the Ricoh Arena,ACL.

    And as the press and Sky Blues fans have quickly learned from Ray’s open and honest approach in his 18 months at the helm, he won’t be making any promises that he can’t deliver simply to generate positive PR. That is not the style of the man…. Indeed, as he has repeated on several occasions, the only promise he is willing to give to the fans is that he will leave the club ‘in better shape’ than the organisation he took over when the Sky Blues were on the brink of going into Administration.

    “Yes the club was almost £40 million in debt, losing about £8 million a year. We have forecast to reduce the losses significantly. And all the debts including the bank, long term creditors etc have been cleared. We’re now one of only three clubs in the country that is debt free,” he reflected. However, the blunt talking 48 year old northerner would rather not talk in detail about the mistakes made by the club’s managements of the past and you will definitely not find any signs promoting Operation Premiership around the club
    offices in the Ricoh Arena! For as his fellow directors and staff will confirm, Ray Ranson is a man with a mission – his goal is to create a new chapter in the history of Coventry City by building a club with a reputation for consistent success on the field and an organisation that is equally as professional off it.

    One of the most astute decisions he has made since moving into the Sky Blues Chair was to appoint Coventry-born lifelong Sky Blues fan and former Associate Director Gary Hoffman as Vice Chairman.

    Gary, who has been appointed to the high profile role of Chief Executive of Northern Rock, brings a wealth of corporate experience to the new Sky Blues board. He began his new job at Northern Rock in October 1st having spent the previous 27 years of his career at Barclays Bank, more recently as
    Deputy Chairman of the Barclays Group. Ray stressed the importance of the
    relationship: “I knew of Gary through his senior role at Barclays and their sponsorship of the Premiership and sport in general.

    “He is a huge Coventry City fan and brings tremendous experience to the board. He has been fantastic support to me since he became Vice Chairman and we speak most days on club matters.

    “In fact we have an excellent mix on the new board. Joe Elliott is synonymous with the fans and the City of Coventry in general, Mike Parton is renowned businessman in the area of telecoms and technology and currently CEO of Damovo group, and we also have an employee of SISU Capital as a board director so it is a good spread of interests and talent.”

    “Furthermore, we have brought in a new Commercial Director in Nathan Kosky. Nathan was highly recommended by a mutual friend and we interviewed a number of people.He brings a little bit extra to the table as he’s not your normal football Commercial Director. He’s used to running a
    big venue and comes from the O2 Arena in London.” And on the subject of impressive stadiums, he continued: “We have the distinct advantage of playing in a fantastic stadium which is fast becoming one of the best
    known arenas in the country, “But it is far more than a soccer stadium. That is its ticket but we have an unprecedented opportunity to maximise the commercial potential that the Ricoh Arena offers and build an entertainment venue that operates seven days a week, 365 days a year.

    “The Ricoh Arena can become a centre of entertainment excellence and, a focal point not only for soccer but exhibitions, concerts, corporate hospitality and conferences – indeed every type of business use.

    “The game plan is to create an excellent sporting experience for fans at the stadium, be they supporters, sponsors or visiting fans and officials,”said Ray Ranson.

    “The Ricoh Arena is the future for Coventry City and will be an important part of the future prosperity of Coventry and Warwickshire,” he said.

    An obvious signal of the way forward as far as his ambitions for the Ricoh Arena are concerned, was the recent move to bring the administrative offices of Coventry City and the Arena Coventry Ltd (ACL) together under one unit. [FONT=&quot]
     
  2. Nick

    Nick Administrator

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    The bold decision created immediate cost savings and efficiency improvements but marked the first step in his strategy to eventually take up the option of a 50 per cent stake in the Arena. Although the objective of Ricoh Arena ownership is still on Ranson’s personal radar, together with a Premiership placing within two to three years, his determined but understated style is to quietly progress discussions behind the scenes with the stakeholders in the Arena who are very much aware that 50 per cent ownership and eventually total acquisition of the stadium in the longer term is very much on the Chairman’s wish list.

    That is a serious agenda item for the future but 12 months on the Sky Blues fans have certainly warmed to the no-nonsense businesslike approach of their new Chairman, whose straight answers and Lancastrian humour have undoubtedly charmed the growing numbers at regular Sky Blue Fan Forums.

    Indeed Ray Ranson’s relationship with the fans and media alike since he became Chairman has been nothing short of positive, although he is the first to admit that there has had to be some painful but necessary surgery along the way in order to keep the club on course to meet its business objectives. But most observers would agree that after nine months as Chairman,the list of results on the Ranson checklist has been impressive. Amongst the boxes that have been ticked to date include:-
    • Appointment of a new high profile young
    manager and coaching team.
    • Appointment of a new
    sports science team.
    • New board of directors and
    new Vice Chairman.
    • Installation of ProZone.
    • New administrative team
    and support systems.
    • Amalgamation of CCFC and ACL
    administrative teams.
    • New Business Plan
    • Complete renovation of
    training facility at Ryton.
    • Restructuring of the Academy.
    • Record level of season
    tickets for the current season.
    • Developing relationships with major UK
    businesses including City Link.

    A list that is far removed from the situation when the Sky Blues faced the prospect of going to the wall before Christmas last year but it has certainly not all been plain sailing since, nor did Ray Ranson expect it to be….. His worst moment as Chairman? The answer is swift: “No doubt about it, the last match of the season before last away to Charlton, with relegation staring us in the face with just ten minutes to go. That was nail biting stuff and it wasn’t in the script!

    “We stayed up but there was no real cause for celebration. We should never have got ourselves in such a precarious position and I do not want to have to experience that again while I am Chairman.

    “That being said,we had a strategy plan in place should the nightmare scenario have happened and we had gone down. It would have put our planning back for at least 12 months but in business you have to plan for
    all eventualities. Thankfully, this was one plan that wasn’t needed,” he reflected. Ray Ranson confirms candidly that his short term tenure as Chairman of the Sky Blues has been the greatest challenge of his career so
    far but he is absolutely convinced that Coventry City is now on the right lines to take the club forward to success.

    He explained“ Personally, I have only been used to success in my career, both as a professional footballer and in business.

    Failure to me at Coventry City is not an option. I only want success and I want the supporters, our sponsors, our directors and hard working staff to all share in that success.

    “We have to draw a line and move on in order to take this club forward.We can learn from the mistakes of the past but we don’t need to dwell on them.

    “The important issue is for everybody to pull together. There will continue to be ups and downs – that is what football is all about, but we must not be distracted from our goal of making Coventry City FC a profitable and
    commercially sustainable business underpinned by success both on and
    off the field.

    “The two go hand in hand of course. The better our results are on the field, the bigger our crowds become and the commercial business offer – the product - becomes more appealing to sponsors.

    “We are absolutely committed to becoming a more attractive football club not only on the playing side, which is obviously fundamental to our success, but developing our relationship with the business community and that includes, both local and national organisations. We want to build partnerships
    with our sponsors. We want to be known as a professional football club that is nice to do business with and which takes a keen interest in the business strategy and activities of our partners and sponsors. We want them to feel part of Coventry City and to use the Ricoh Arena as an important part of their
    business not only for corporate hospitality but also for their day to day commercial activities including conferences, seminars, meetings and hotel accommodation.”

    Ray Ranson added: “Just over 18 months on since we took control of Coventry City FC, I believe we are on course with our plans, both
    on and off the field. “Whatever decisions I make the fans can be assured are in the best interests of Coventry City. Not in the interests of Ray Ranson or
    SISU Capital as that would be short-term thinking and may not be in the club’s
    interests long-term. I believe that decisions made in the interests of Coventry City benefit everybody, the Club, the Investors, my own credibility within football and hopefully most importantly the fans.

    “We are steadily introducing a new business culture into the club and building a reputation in the game that we are a young, dynamic and professional organisation. “I am pleased that in a short period of time, we have managed to make a number of exciting and significant changes not only in terms of a new manager and new players but also from the boardroom to the management team off the field.

    “There is still a long way to go but it is encouraging that we are beginning to attract major new sponsors who can now see the potential of becoming partners of Coventry City as well as the commercial advantages of the football club and the Ricoh Arena.
     
  3. Nick

    Nick Administrator

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    “The dream of returning the Sky Blues to the Premiership will only become a reality if we get our professional act together both on and off the field.

    “I think we are about there now on the restructuring of the club financially,
    commercially and in terms of getting the right team in place. We are now on the right track but we must all work together – management, fans and sponsors – in order to meet our objective of Premiership football in
    the next couple of years.”

    RAY RANSON’S PHILOSOPHY
    FOR BUSINESS SUCCESS
    “The best advice I was ever offered in business was to a) surround yourself with the best people you can find and of course afford, and b) Always try to be on the front foot, be one step ahead in business or negotiations. If you are on the back foot you will invariably make mistakes or wrong decisions.”


    THE RANSON MANAGEMENT STYLE
    ‘Being Chairman is a 24/7 job for me. I enjoy being in every aspect of the football club. I am very actively involved but I am not a control freak! I am very black and white. There is no grey area with me. That is the way I am.
    RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FANS
    ‘I hope the fans see me as honest and trustworthy. I also hope they believe I
    know what I am doing. That’s hopefully the perception the fans have of me… That the club is in safe hands. I cannot ask for any more than that.’

    CHRIS COLEMAN
    ‘We brought in Chris Coleman for a number of reasons and not only because
    he is a first class manager and respected in the game. He is still one of the youngest managers in the game at 38 years old, he is full of ideas, is very commercial and players in the game respect him. He has a top class reputation and is a fantastic guy to get on with. He ticks all the boxes for me
    and I am hoping that we can build something here together. He’s very
    ambitious and I don’t need to put any pressure on him.’

    RAY RANSON AT HOME
    Family life is important to Ray Ranson, who switches off from soccer when he returns from the day job to his home in Cheshire. The father of five is now used to regular trips up and down the M6 to and from his office at the Ricoh Arena and confesses to his mobile being on for most of the 1_
    hour journey, but home is where he relaxes and unwinds from the pressures of football.

    “I am fortunate to have a very understanding wife who knows nothing about football but (thankfully) who understands my passion for soccer and lets me get on with it. By the time I get home we get on with normal family life and the
    kids, have dinner and maybe watch Newsnight.

    “I do not really have a lot of time to relax but I am a half decent golfer when I have time to play and my other passions away from football are cars and motorsport”
     
  4. Peter Griffin

    Peter Griffin Member

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    Interesting read. We've all got to keep the faith in Ranson and the board if you ask me.
     
  5. Nick

    Nick Administrator

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    I think so as well, there is no point getting on his back as to be honest I think he knows what he is doing and we will do quite well with a couple of new signings :)
     
  6. jpskyblue

    jpskyblue New Member

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    Thought it was a great article, though i think what RR says may be above most CIty Fans, who still crave for the crazy days of big debt, and overpaid players....
     
  7. Nick

    Nick Administrator

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    Exactly, one of 3 teams without debt in the country and soon to own half of the Ricoh?
     
  8. IrishSkyBlue

    IrishSkyBlue Facebook User

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    If you ask me we have a good chairman that alot of clubs would take your arm off if they had the chance of getting RR to take over there club.He has done a good job and is right in what he is saying if you make the club steady from the back and show the team and manager that your making a steady ship the rest will fall into place and the trust factor to the fans aswell.He has basically taken a bundle of wires un tangled them and started to run things smoothly.Lets hope another good cup run and few giant killings plus maybe promotion and we all be happy.
     
  9. simmouk

    simmouk Administrator

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    Flippin' 'eck! That is a long article! How long did it take you to type that Nick?! ;-)

    Certainly a very interesting read anyway, I personally believe that Ranson is doing good for the club and with the financial backing of SISU thinks for the future look bright - but it is definately a long future and I think our fan base need to get used to the idea that things are looking up but it will take a good few years and previous seasons worth of promises of "instant success" need to be flushed out of our minds etc because they were always only false and empty promises etc. If we do exercise our right to buy back 50% of the Ricoh then this will only increase our finances because it definately looks like more and more non-football events will be happening at the ground and the club REALLY need to get in on the income and revenue streams from these - around £12million was made for the Take That and Oasis gigs I heard, and the club would benefit so much from that kind of extra cash!
     
  10. hill83

    hill83 Well-Known Member

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    I was searching google for Ray Ranson quotes and this thread popped up.
    Sorry Nick!
     
  11. exhallskyblue

    exhallskyblue Member

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    lol
     
  12. mark82

    mark82 Moderator

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    It all depends what you class as debt. Debt to your owners isn't technically debt. It is obviously something that may be turned into debt if we are ever taken over though.
     
  13. DaleM

    DaleM Active Member

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    Well reading that again brings back the optimism I and others had at the time. What a total crock of shit it turned into in reality .:(
     
  14. Nick

    Nick Administrator

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    I hope that Ranson leaves and takes Coleman with him!
     
  15. Godiva

    Godiva Well-Known Member

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    ... and Hoffman and Elliott please!
     
  16. skybluetony176

    skybluetony176 Well-Known Member

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    It was classed as debt when our owners called the administrator in for a debt they owed to themselves.

    I still can't work out why that is legal.
     
  17. _brian_

    _brian_ Active Member

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    Ray's gone! LOL!!!
     
  18. Godiva

    Godiva Well-Known Member

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    Because the debts was not owed to themselves but to various Investment funds.
     
  19. RegTheDonk

    RegTheDonk Well-Known Member

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    Don't be daft Nick...RR and Cookie are our future. Coleman is class, anybody who wears those suits must be good - he's good enough to be an international manager. I hope they both stay, with RRs plan of a forward thinking manager, we'll soon own the Ricoh with all the money from the weekly concerts, and in a few years RR and Coleman will get us into the prem. SISU will back them all the way, they've just give them the money to sing Dann and Fox, we're no longer a selling club and will be back in the Prem this time next year...while all those wanabees around us like Fester will probably end up rotting in League 2 with a roofless stadium they don't even own. Losers!
     
  20. lordsummerisle

    lordsummerisle Well-Known Member

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  21. Grendel

    Grendel Well-Known Member

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  22. skybluetony176

    skybluetony176 Well-Known Member

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    And who's investment funds were they?
     
  23. SkyBlue_Bear83

    SkyBlue_Bear83 Well-Known Member

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    I remember in Ransons very first interview after the SISU take over said something along the lines of. The one thing we can guarantee is that we leave this club in a better state than what we found it in.
     
  24. Broken Hearted Sky Blue

    Broken Hearted Sky Blue Well-Known Member

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    Just corrected it for you:D
     
  25. ccfcway

    ccfcway Well-Known Member

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    hows that going ?
     
  26. Sick Boy

    Sick Boy Well-Known Member

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    It's always a good laugh to see how much the fundamentalists offered their unwavering support to SISU. I look forward to the day when they realise that CCC took them for a ride. Ah yes, they were also proven wrong in their lust for Andy Thorn.
     
  27. Sick Boy

    Sick Boy Well-Known Member

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    A lot of posters will be on this forum under different names but with opposite POV's.
     
  28. ccfcway

    ccfcway Well-Known Member

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    Just stumbled across this when looking for Ray's 1st interview
     
    Captain Dart likes this.
  29. marcusp

    marcusp Well-Known Member

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    Bit like operation prem. A load of bollocks
     
  30. skyblueindorset

    skyblueindorset Well-Known Member

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    Well, there has certainly been a new business culture introduced to the club - a culture of making a pig's ear of everything!
     
  31. stevefloyd

    stevefloyd Well-Known Member

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    It was Rays vision....should have gone to specsavers !!
     
  32. wingy

    wingy Well-Known Member

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    What has happened to LS
    Haven't seen a post from him for ages?
     
  33. Hobo

    Hobo Well-Known Member

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    It sounded good at the time.

    Time now for an update Ray!
     
  34. robbiekeane

    robbiekeane Well-Known Member

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    why did we sell out option to buy half the ricoh?
     
  35. chiefdave

    chiefdave Well-Known Member

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    supposed to be to resolve short term cashflow issues.
     

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