Matthew Rawnsley has outlined his hopes, plans and ambitions after officially taking over today (Thursday) as the new CEO of Worcestershire County Cricket Club.
Rawnsley brings a wealth of top level business experience spread over the last 15 years to the role in addition to his cricketing links as a former player for nine seasons with the County.
He will play a significant role on the cricketing side, handling issues such as new contracts and overseas players, and will work closely with new Head Coach Kevin Sharp who is leading a restructured coaching set-up.
Rawnsley also wants to build on the growing commercial and business side of the club and help to “take it to the next level.”
But he has stressed the importance of a ‘all for one, one for all’ mentality with the playing side and commercial side of the club all pulling as one team and celebrating each other’s success.
Here Rawnsley outlines his plans for the future in part one of a Question And Answer Session with the Worcestershire CCC website.
Question: In your role here, will you be playing a significant part on the cricket side?
Matt Rawnsley: “Yes. There has been some change in the coaching department and I want to make sure that transition is running smoothly.
“I will be involved in issues like overseas signings and contracts. Obviously you’ve got key stake-holders. The captain plays a role in that, the coach plays a role in that and key board members who have got a lot of experience.
“We want to make sure we are not making those kind of decisions within a very small group, that we are getting information and opinions from different people. I think that is really important.
“But ultimately it will come down to two people who will make that decision – myself and Kevin (Sharp) as head coach.”
Question: Your own cricketing experience is going to help in such issues?
Matt Rawnsley: “It adds a value. It’s a benefit having credibility with the players when talking about their role in the club. Also, having that understanding of how the cricket fits with the commercial side and vice versa to make sure we have got a strategy for the club moving forward.
“It means you’ve got someone in charge who understands both sides of the club, how one can affect the other and creating alignment, making sure we are moving both areas of the club in the right direction, and what’s the impact of one on the other. That is really important.
“A key area initially is for me to bring all that together, for everyone at the club to see themselves as part of the club, that they are not part of the commercial side or the playing side.
“We will all be in this together and if one person does well, everyone does well. Let’s celebrate each other’s success across the whole organisation.”
Question: On the business side, there seems light at the end of the tunnel after a challenging period?
Matt Rawnsley: “I think so. There have been some changes and Tom Scott (previous CEO) has been very busy the last couple of years in setting up the foundations of what I can do next which I’m very grateful for.
“We are approaching a very positive time, we’ve got some good momentum around the commercial side of the business and also the cricketing side as well.
“It’s about taking that to the next level. That is my job.
“We’ve got a fantastic asset here which is close to the city. We need to make sure we are utilising that as much as we can and getting revenue from that.
“There are still lots of people who work in the city who know we are here but don’t know what we can do to support them.
“For example, we’ve had some recent events here with the NHS and that’s the first time they’ve been to the club and the reaction from that was extremely positive and ‘we want to do more.’
“With what we have here, we’ve got the opportunity to have events here on a large scale, where you have one main event with different break-out rooms that lots of other venues can’t do.
“That is a great opportunity for us which will get more exciting down the road when we look at the Phase Three development and what that can offer as far as the commercial enterprise”
Question: Is Phase Three still on the agenda for the future?
Matt Rawnsley: “I need to understand where we are at and the time-lines, It’s just a question of when and the right timing for me. It remains a medium term focus of the club.
“What I don’t want to do is stretch ourselves too thin. Other clubs have done that, it’s is a very easy thing to do. By moving forward too quickly, you can stretch your finances and resources, without a clear path of success mapped out.
“For now, I’d rather we focus on what we’ve got, let’s get the most out of what we’ve got, and then go ahead when we know we’ve got the funds and the backing to support it.
“We’ve got a big concert (Pop Fest) coming up and, as far as a summer venue, to watch film or a concert, I don’t think there is a better place to go within a 100 mile radius of here.
“We must challenge ourselves to be as creative as we can in terms of how we can use this as a venue in the summer and on the outskirts of the season, there aren’t many places like this in the UK.”
Question: The cricket side is looking very positive?
Matt Rawnsley: “There is a great vibe in the playing group right now. We’ve got a change on the leadership side with different styles, which compliment each other. We’ve also got key players who are at a time in their life where they should embrace the challenge of leadership and the increased expectations of them.
“That is certainly what I expect from them, key players really do need to stand up and lead from the front themselves.
“We’ve got a challenge because we had some great momentum right to the last day of last season where promotion was secured.
“You come back into pre-season and that momentum can easily be lost so we’ve got a job to do to generate that momentum again, building on the energy and enthusiasm and that belief and confidence, preparing the guys well to make sure when day one comes, they are up for the fight because it is going to be a new challenge.
“It will be a higher challenge than some of the guys have played so they need to prepared mentally and physically for that.”
Question: “Have you had some good conversations with Kevin Sharp?
Matt Rawnsley: “Really good. He is really excited about the opportunity and it is great to see that energy and enthusiasm coming from him which is brilliant.
“He has been really well received by the players which helps and gives him confidence and to have Alan Richardson coming in has been really well received.
“I’d like to see us having a coaching group that, yes, has certain responsibilities, but they can also be fluid in the way they work, first team, second team, academy, I think that is important.”
*Look out for parts two and three of our Question And Answer session with Matthew Rawnsley in which he will look back over his cricketing and business careers.