I’ve never quite understood the antagonism towards foreign football club chairmen.
Sure, we may question how the likes of Abramovich and Glazer acquired their money (or even if they have any at all), but to me there’s something deeper afoot. These people are foreign outsiders: they’re not your sheepskin-wearing, cigar-chomping, local-boy-made-good chairman of yesteryear. They’re unaccustomed to the traditional ways of doing things and without that kindred link to the fans.
To me, it’s as it ever was. They’re all simply rich guys in a director’s box, lording it like Nero with a football scarf. So what if the old chairman happened to speak my language? That’s basically the only thing we have in common. Which brings me in a laboured, round-about way to Brilliant Law, a new firm announced this week and promoted like some kind of fantasy business team.
It has the chief executive who used to run Minster Law. It has a sports technology company boss who engineered its £301m sale to BSkyB. It even has the man behind the webuyanycar.com jingle (a ditty as addictive as it was irritating) in charge of marketing.
Stumping up most of the cash is Bert Black, co-founder of Betfair and reportedly entitled to a decent chunk of the £337m made when the betting exchange floated in 2010. It’s an intriguing team, but inevitably the knives are out already – one look at the comments beneath the Gazette story reveal cynicism and angst about these newcomers ruining the legal profession.
Look, it’s true that the name is awful. Brilliant Law sounds like the work of a five-year-old and makes me think of the ‘brilliant’ Fast Show character every time I hear it. And sure, these guys might be profit-driven, pin-striped, merciless business types, impervious on whom they trample to satisfy their shareholders.
Or they might not be. They might just be eerily similar to most law firm managers from the bygone era. Just how much did you ever have in common with the managing partner? Was he (and invariably it was a he) driven purely by ethics, shunning the chance to increase profits or expand the firm? Or was he simply like any modern law firm owner without the letters CEO attached to his name?
We shouldn’t automatically dismiss new ventures before we have seen how they shape up. Just take a look at Betfair, created from almost nothing 13 years ago and now conducting more transactions than the European stock markets.
The company has more than 2,000 staff (albeit recently cut [link behind paywall]) and has revolutionised a decrepit and dying industry. Sound familiar anyone?
The legal profession is struggling under the weight of market forces, over-regulation and endless government reform. Someone here is brave (or mad) enough to want to enter this sector and will employ solicitors to do so. Can we really afford to be so picky about who’s in charge?
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