MARK DODSON apparently doesn’t like to use Key Performance Indicators [KPIs]. He seems to prefer to do it his own way, stay adaptable and judge performance on the outcome rather than the intention, which is all well and good until something goes wrong and people are left asking: what the hell is going on?
Ahead of this morning’s SRU AGM at Murrayfield, we thought it might be helpful to put some thought into the KPI’s which Dodson might – in a parallel universe – have been working to since his appointment as the organisation’s Chief Executive in September 2011.
1. Growing the business – 6/10
- He’s got one side of the equation right, turnover (from a low base) has increased by 46.4% since 2011, significantly outstripping growth of the other three Home Nations.
- But questions remain over how revenue is disposed of?
- Concerns over employee numbers, capital expenditure, club investment, current ratio etc.
2. International results – 7/10
- 2017 and 2018 witnessed three wins in the Six Nations in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1995 and 1996.
- Recruitment of a proven world class coach in Vern Cotter was a catalyst, while the bold move to replace Sean Lineen with unproven Gregor Townsend at Glasgow Warriors and then promote the former playmaker to become Scotland’s first native coach since Frank Hadden has paid off so far, although tour defeats to Fiji in 2017 and USA this summer indicate that ruthless consistency is a challenge which still needs to be conquered.
- Under-20s side have become genuinely competitive on world stage. The women’s team won their first Six Nations match in seven years against Wales in 2017, then backed that up with another win against Italy at the end of the Championship, and picked up two more victories in 2018 against Ireland (a first away success in 12 years) and Italy (also away) – however, they remain in a very different league from England and France, with no real prospect of closing that gap any time soon.
3. Pro-team attendances (as a critical metric of pro team performance as a business) – 6/10
- Huge growth compared to Ireland and Wales, although starting from a much lower base, and average crowd still significantly lower than those two countries.
- Edinburgh’s average gate for this season is boosted significantly by having two home games against Glasgow Warriors attended by 23,833 and 25,353. Without those games their average gate would be just below 5,000.
- Edinburgh, generally, has been a disaster area up until the arrival of Richard Cockerill as head coach this season, which has been the antidote to the long-lingering hangover from the Alan Solomons era (deepened by an inexplicable contract extension for the South African in December 2015). It is the first time in almost a decade that the team has looked like having the potential to finally engage a city which has a massive rugby history. And it looks like managing director Jonny Petrie might finally get the backing he needs if he is going to turn the club into a serious entity.
4. Nurturing the game – 5/10
- Crunch number is the number of adult males playing in a structured league and that has dropped 14.4% since 2012-13 (which is the furthest back we can accurately analyse the figures).
- Comparative playing numbers in Ireland are worse, having dropped by 36.8% [from 25616 to 16184] during the same period.
- Schools/youth conference structure too new (three years old) to provide worthwhile data, although this effort to tie age-grade rugby together is commendable.
5. Governance – 2/10
- Agenda 3 (including Super 6) was introduced without a mandate and Murrayfield is now trying desperately to square a circle, having massively underestimated the size of the challenge they faced in dictating terms to the clubs.
- Keith Russell affair was a massive HR (and PR) failure and the Council’s lack of oversight before, during and after has left their credibility as the constitutional backstop of the Union shot to ribbons.
- Dodson’s own contract extension, awarded whilst awaiting the outcome of Russell tribunal, suggests that the balance of power between Board and Chief Executive is out of kilter.
- Transparency [not spin] on almost every important issue is virtually non-existent as witnessed with Agenda 3.
- A year without an independent chairman to the Council Standing Committee on Governance (before Gavin McColl QC’s appointment in May) during which time acting chairman Rob Flockhart (the outgoing SRU president) was nominated to assume trusteeship of the Union, along with fellow Murrayfield insider Ian Rankin.
6. Ethos – 1/10
- Measured against the Union’s own keywords (which appear at the bottom every correspondence which emerges from Murrayfield): Leadership, Engagement, Achievement, Enjoyment, Respect
- The Keith Russell affair!
- Widespread use of non-disclosure agreements (or similar contractual agreements with a different title) indicates a culture where staff are viewed simply as disposable commodities.
- Lack of empathy and flexibility with Murrayfield Wanderers’ departure from the Murrayfield estate was needless and arrogant.
- Widespread unrest and breakdown in trust in clubland over various issues, including Agenda 3, international tickets, handling of AGM motions, relentless spin, etc.
- Attitude towards, and relationship with, SportScotland, Scottish Government and other outside agencies who invest in Scottish Rugby is a major cause for concern.