Premier League Chooses Investment Banker Fry To Replace Richards As Chairman
Investment banker ANTHONY FRY "will become the Premier League's first new chairman for 14 years" when he takes over from DAVE RICHARDS in June, according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Fry, whose name "was not among those who had been touted for the role," was endorsed by the 20 Premier League clubs at a meeting in London on Friday, following a recruitment process led by Chelsea Chair BRUCE BUCK, Stoke City majority shareholder PETER COATES, ManU CEO DAVID GILL and former Blackburn Rovers Chair JOHN WILLIAMS, now employed by Man City. Fry spent 18 years at the banking group Rothschild and "has chaired or sat on numerous boards across a range of business, public, charitable and academic bodies." Fry left his board position at Rothschild in '96 "to become the head of global media and European telecoms at BZW/CSFB." He then moved to Lehman Brothers as head of U.K. operations, leaving in '07 "to do an advanced management programme at Harvard Business School." Buck said: "There were a number of outstanding candidates, any of whom would have made a fine Premier League chairman, but in Anthony Fry we have appointed an individual with the correct blend of experience, skills, attitude and demeanour to represent the best interests of the Premier League" (GUARDIAN, 4/26).
RUNAWAY CHOICE: In London, Ben Rumsby reported "the 57-year-old’s heavyweight CV outside the game had made him the top choice of a nominations committee." The "comprehensive recruitment process" began almost a year ago. Such "was the secrecy surrounding the search, which involved a top headhunting firm." The names widely touted for the role "were not on the final shortlist, although several high-profile candidates had already ruled themselves out" (TELEGRAPH, 4/26). Also in London, Duncan Robinson reported Fry "is also chairman" of the U.K.'s largest listed dairy group, Dairy Crest. Fry, who has been chair since '10, "made headlines last week after it plugged part of its pension gap with 20,000 tonnes of maturing cheese" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 4/26).
RED DEVIL LINK: In London, Ashling O'Connor reported Fry "proposed the idea of BSkyB buying Manchester United." Fry pitched the idea to the BSkyB board in '98, when he was running Credit Suisse First Boston’s media practice, "only to discover that it was already working on it with Goldman Sachs, a rival bank." CSFB "was appointed broker on the deal, which was ultimately blocked by the monopolies regulator" in '99. A ManU supporter, Fry "is due to start his three-year term on June 1, about a month before the arrival at football’s top table of another former media heavyweight with links to the controversial deal." Incoming FA Chair GREG DYKE, "who is also a United fan," was the only director on the club’s board "to vote against the BSkyB takeover." The former BBC director general "takes over" for DAVID BERNSTEIN in mid-July (LONDON TIMES, 4/27). The BBC reported Fry was described by the Premier League as a "keen spectator" at matches involving ManU. His appointment means that "three of the key people who help run English football are fans of the Red Devils." The others are Dyke and FA Vice Chair Gill (BBC, 4/26).