Wasps, the English professional rugby union club, announces that following the acquisition of the Ricoh Arena and a highly successful start at Wasps new home, which has seen in excess of 100,000 supporters watch their first six games, it is expanding its senior management team, which will oversee the club and the Arena’s long-term future.
- Derek Richardson appointed Chairman of the Board
- Nick Eastwood to become Deputy Chairman
- David Armstrong joins the club full-time as Group CEO
- Mark Rigby to take on the role of President
- Chris Wright to remain as Honorary Lifetime President
- Dai Young – Director of Rugby
Derek Richardson, who bought Wasps in April 2013, will now be Chairman of the Board with Mark Rigby taking on the role of President, continuing his long association with the club, which began as a player in 1982.
Chris Wright, owner of Wasps during the glory years, when the club won 11 trophies in 11 years, continues his role as Honorary Lifetime President. Wright successfully steered the club through choppy waters during the dawn of the professional era and he and his family remain regular attendees on match days.
CEO, Nick Eastwood, will step up to become Deputy Chairman. In the role of Deputy Chairman, Eastwood will continue to be primary spokesperson for the club and to be responsible for stakeholder relationships in the club’s new area. He will also lead the long-term strategy for Wasps, including the important academy and community programmes, and Wasps successful integration into the Midlands community and business infrastructure. He will also continue to represent Wasps (shareholders in Premiership Rugby) on the Premiership Rugby Board.
David Armstrong joins the club full-time as Group CEO, and will oversee all commercial aspects of the club, stadium and Arena business. David, who played a significant role in the acquisition of the Ricoh Arena in Autumn 2014, alongside Eastwood, has since managed the integration of the Wasps and ACL (Arena Coventry Ltd) businesses and the preparation for Wasps opening games at the Ricoh Arena.
Wasps now enjoys the biggest rugby club-owned facility in club rugby, including:
- a 32,000-seater sports stadium;
- a leading concert venue of 42,500 capacity having previously hosted Coldplay, Oasis, Take That and Bruce Springsteen
- a 6,000sqm indoor facility that can host 12,000 people for exhibitions, conferences and concerts;
- a 121 bedroom hotel;
- a casino, numerous hospitality suites and two restaurants.
Prior to joining Wasps, David Armstrong was the Chief Financial Officer of Lonrho plc, the listed African investment vehicle, and previously held senior financial, commercial and general management roles with Diageo plc, Compass Group plc and Pepsico.
Director of Rugby, Dai Young continues to head up all aspects of the professional playing side at Wasps, having recently extended his contract with the Club until 2019.
Derek Richardson, Chairman, said:
"We couldn’t have wished for a more successful start to life at the Ricoh Arena and we have been overwhelmed by the support of our loyal Wasps fans and the Coventry and Warwickshire community.
"We take great pride in knowing that over 100,000 fans have already come to watch Wasps at the Ricoh Arena in the six games we have played since moving here in December. Given the quick turn-around and challenges that entailed, the back-room team deserves high praise for ensuring we got off to a flying start at the Ricoh Arena.
"Dai Young, his playing staff and squad deserve equal credit for the performances they have produced since we announced our move to Coventry and Warwickshire.
"I would like to thank Nick Eastwood, who has been instrumental in guiding the club through the most difficult phase in its history over the past two years. He played a key role in the process of acquiring the Ricoh Arena and excelled during the complex negotiation process and as the club’s public face during our move.
"Nick is highly regarded throughout the game and will continue to play a fundamental role in the evolution of the club, supporting me in my new role as Chairman. The depth of knowledge Nick has acquired during his time in rugby, both at Wasps and previously as Finance Director of the RFU, is invaluable to the club.
"The move to Coventry has been transformational for the club, with the Ricoh Arena providing increased financial stability for us to invest, not only in the future of the club but also the creation of one of the UK’s leading sport, business and entertainment venues.
"Wasps now owns one of the largest multi-purpose venues in the UK, but rugby will always remain at the heart of everything we do. Thanks to our new home and the many activities, including concerts, conferences and exhibitions, taking place 365 days a year, we are able to invest in the club like never before.
"David Armstrong will devise and lead the long-term business strategy for the Group, including all commercial aspects of Wasps and the Ricoh Arena and I am sure we will benefit greatly from David’s expertise within the leisure, entertainment and hospitality industry."
David Armstrong, Group CEO, commented:
"I am delighted to be joining Wasps at such a pivotal moment in the club’s history. The purchase of the Ricoh Arena is ground breaking in professional rugby and gives the club a permanent home rooted in one of the UK’s leading conference, exhibition and concert venues.
"The symbiotic relationship between the two parts of the business will strengthen the rugby club and allow greater investment in the squad and new training facilities. We also intend to quickly grow the exhibition and events opportunities at the Ricoh Arena, which have been increased by Wasps buying the venue and we look forward to working with a number of exciting new partners in the coming years."
Derek Richardson, continued:
"I would also like to thank Mark Rigby for his unfaltering support and guidance. In his time as Chairman, Mark has promoted the club throughout the rugby world and has been a vigorous supporter of Wasps in every sphere, not only during the successful years but also through the challenging years, when his loyalty and passionate determination drove the club forward.
"Mark’s highly demanding and successful career at CVS, together with his other property interests, makes it difficult to fulfil the role of Chairman to the level he and the club need during this transitional period. However, I am delighted that Mark will remain fully involved as President and continue to play a very active role in the club, particularly on match day with our VIP guests and working with our Wasps legends and former players."
Mark Rigby said: "Wasps has been part of my life for more than 30 years and it’s an honour to step up and take on this new role as President. The club is going from strength to strength with Derek’s fresh investment and vision, which is providing a real sense of momentum both on and off the pitch. As President, I am looking forward to playing a unique role in blending the old and the new. Wasps has a great history upon and with which to build a great future. It will be my privilege to contribute to this exciting next chapter."
Derek Richardson, continued:
"Dai Young has also been integral to the success we are starting to enjoy at Wasps. There are very few Directors of Rugby in the game who could have led the club so well during tumultuous times and we are very appreciative of all the unseen work he has done. We are already beginning to see the positive impact on the pitch after his first wave of recruitment and I have no doubt we will continue to see improvements as he continues to bolster the squad in coming seasons."