V8 Supercars in fresh leadership crisis
V8 Supercars is on the verge of appointing its fifth Chief Executive in as many years as the administration of the sport continues to be rocked by key management changes.
The latest crisis to hit the sport comes amid suggestions that David Malone’s position as Chief Executive has runs its course – and as key stakeholders continue to privately plea for leadership and direction.
According to reports in the Australian Financial Review, recently sacked Network Ten chief executive James Warburton has been linked to Malone’s position at the urging of V8 Supercars majority shareholder Archer Capital.
Malone, who came into the role after 11 years as Fox Sports Chief Executive, was hired principally for his expertise in television and to negotiate a new TV broadcast package from 2013.
The fresh TV contract with Channel Seven was not confirmed until January this year with the deal sparking discontent among the sport’s stakeholders for being struck for a reduced amount and for its belated arrival – both of which had a negative impact on teams’ commercial prospects and viability.
Attempts by Speedcafe.com to contact Malone for comment today were unsuccessful.
Ironically, Warburton left Channel Seven in controversial circumstances in March 2011 with the intention of joining Network Ten shortly after, but a successful court challenge to hold up a work agreement with Seven saw him sidelined until January 2012.
Despite being regarded as a talented media salesman from a young age, Warburton lasted little more than a year at Ten before being released on February 22.
Given that Channel Seven are the V8 Supercar official broadcaster, it would be envisaged that the appointment of Warburton would have to come after at least some correspondence and feedback from his former employer. It is no secret that Malone’s relationship with Seven is far from comfortable and one of the driving forces for the mooted changes.
These latest revelations come as V8 Supercars’ Commercial and Marketing Manager John Dunlop is believed to be finishing up with the company. Dunlop failed to return Speedcafe.com’s calls today.
The sport saw its founding chairman Tony Cochrane leave late last year after disagreement with Archer amid negotiations for the television rights. His successor James Strong died suddenly in March without ever effectively attending a board meeting.
Archer Capital director Brad Lancken was also approached by Speedcafe.com today for comment without success.
All this comes at a time when the Gold Coast-based V8 Supercars administration has been the centre of key internal changes.
Several behind-the-scenes appointments were made in February including Kim Cummins as Business Strategy and Performance Manager – answering to CFO Peter Trimble. Cummins spent five years with the Melbourne Cricket Club in a similar role.
Mark Perry was recruited from his work developing the Targa Tasmania concept into Targa events in other states, as the Director of Promoted Events and started last month.
The internal changes instigated in February involved Shane Howard (Chief Operating Officer) being given the responsibility for Government and key stakeholder relationships, Adam Firth landing the title of Director of Sanctioned and International Business. Damien White was meanwhile promoted to the role of General Manager – Motorsport.
Along with Cochrane’s sudden exit late last year, V8 Supercars have lost some respected people including Bronwyn Humphrey (General Manager Marketing), Adam Perry (Motorsport Manager) and Ray Robbins (Assistant Operations Manager Motorsport) in the recent times. There was also the departure of several experienced marketing, media and general operational staff.
V8 SUPERCARS CHIEF EXECUTIVES TIMELINE
1997-1999: Garry Craft
1999-2008: Wayne Cattach
2008-2009: Cameron Levick
2010-2011: Martin Whitaker
2011-present David Malone
*At various times Tony Cochrane and Shane Howard have filled in as an interim CEO.