A FORMER chief executive of London Wasps and Queens Park Rangers has been appointed as the managing director of Edinburgh Rugby.
David Davies takes over from Craig Docherty, whose title was chief executive, and who is moving within Murrayfield to become the Scottish Rugby Union’s head of retail and product licensing.
A graduate in sports studies from Northumbria University with a Masters in Business Administration from Loughborough, Davies has extensive experience of managing major sports venues as well as clubs. He was chief executive of Manchester’s MEN Arena for two years in the 1990s and, until recently, held the equivalent post at New Zealand’s Dunedin Venues Management, where he was responsible for the country’s largest indoor stadium.
For four years from 1996, Davies was managing director of the European Division of Ogden Entertainment, then moved on to spend the same length of time as chief executive of QPR. Those were difficult times at Loftus Road, and, while Davies had disagreements with some sections of the QPR support, he also emerged with considerable credit for his part in helping the club find stability after they had gone into administration.
He was appointed by QPR’s then owner Chris Wright, who left the club in 2001. Davies and two other senior appointees, Nick Blackburn and Ross Jones, soldiered on for three years after Wright’s departure, eventually leaving in quick succession in the summer of 2004.
“Davies assumed more responsibility than most chief executives of league football clubs and was often left to deal with crises alone when you would have expected chairmen or directors to step in and take over or at least provide help,” was the verdict of supporters’ website QPR Report when he left. “[His] departure has been met with mixed reactions.
“There is no doubt that he has done some good for the club. He is clearly a good face for QPR. He is eloquent, media-friendly and comes across as an approachable man. Davies moved the club into, through and out of administration. He leaves the club promoted, with record season-ticket sales and heading in the right direction. He was involved in the decision to bring Ian Holloway to the club, which has undoubtedly been our best managerial appointment of recent years.
“His reputation took a major battering the day he decided to take three Rangers [ie QPR] fans to court after a leaked boardroom memo was placed on a QPR website. It was a move that left a sour taste in the mouth of many and one that could forever tarnish his legacy at Loftus Road.”
Davies next spent three years from 2004 as chief executive of then Heineken Cup holders Wasps, who had been tenants of QPR at Loftus Road before moving to Adams Park in High Wycombe in 2002. Ian McGeechan became the club’s director of rugby during Davies’ spell at the helm, and the club also won the Anglo-Welsh Cup during that spell.
From there he moved out of sport for a while, becoming managing director of the Nottimgham-based DHP Group, where he specialised in the management of both bands and venues. He moved on from there to Dunedin in late 2009, and comes to Edinburgh with a breadth of experience which few people in Scottish rugby can match.
“I’d like to thank Craig Docherty and his team for all the hard work that predates my appointment, and look forward to working with them in the coming seasons to build on their successes,” Davies said yesterday. “I feel privileged to get this opportunity, as there is a huge amount of potential in the club from which a very bright future can be shaped. It’s a very exciting time for the club and I’m delighted to be part of it.”
Dominic McKay, the SRU’s director of commercial operations, communications and public affairs, said he was delighted by the new appointment, and thanked Docherty for his time in the job.
“We’re delighted to welcome such an experienced operator as David Davies as the new managing director of Edinburgh Rugby,” he said.
“David has a huge amount of knowledge and experience gained from delivering countless world-class events in and outside of the sport, and has a proven track record of driving up interest and revenues in a very impressive career.
“I’m sure he will make a big impact on Edinburgh Rugby’s off-field operation. Craig has done a great job in growing the fan base and commercial clout of Edinburgh Rugby over the last three seasons, and we look forward to tapping into his expertise in the governing body’s commercial team.”
Davies will start his new job on Monday, initially shadowing Docherty, who took up his present post in August 2010.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as the club’s MD and believe that David takes the reins of Edinburgh Rugby at a very exciting time, with more fans than ever before, a vastly improved match-day experience and a growing commercial income stream thanks to improved partnerships with the city’s business community.
“I now look forward to a new chapter in my career, combining my retail experience with that of the professional game to support the Scottish Rugby commercial team continue to grow commercial revenues.
“I wish David and the club every success and will remain as one of the club’s biggest fans in the seasons to come.”