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Robins & Bears. Compare & Contrast


BigAl&Toby
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So the Bears beat Newcastle yesterday to go second in the Premiership.

Four wins on the bounce and a nice tasty top of the table clash against Exeter to look forward to.

Compare that to the Robins. Recent performances and league position already well debated and documented on here......

But that’s got me thinking. What do the Bears do or have done that seems to make them more successful than us? Is there anything that as a football club we could learn from them, how they operate and who they appoint - on and off the pitch?

After all there are a few common denominators......

Thiughts anyone?

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2 minutes ago, Kid in the Riot said:

Having just come off the back of a top 4 finish last season and winning a European trophy. There is no comparison to be made in what the rugby has achieved in the past few years versus the football. 

Key difference from the football is that SL is a bit more modest and honest with himself; he doesn't know enough about rugby to have so much of a hands-on, day-to-day role, as he still holds at the football. 

Compare the CEOs/recruitment. 

Bears have a former player, a playing legend in fact, in Mark Tainton who heads up recruitment and is a key board member. Also has years of international coaching experience with Ireland. He is ably assisted by one of the best coaches in world rugby Pat Lam and is assistants who have all enjoyed success in the game at european/International level. SL has no direct involvement.

Aside from Holden (still a relative novice), and possibly the two assistants, there is no representation on the football board of anyone with any substantial playing or coaching experience. Final decisions are nearly always made with SLs blessings, and he remains heavily involved in the recruitment process, especially as we saw in the summer, for the manager's position.

That, in a nutshell, is the crux of the problem. 

Ta. I guess that was my point but I wondered if anyone else either shared that or would be brave enough to say it.

What I don’t get though is why that’s the case. What is it that means The Ls have a hands on approach to the football and yet seem to adopt a different approach with the rugby?

I can’t see it’s as fundamental as FFP or parachute payments. What it is though and why they don’t follow the same model is what I’d love to know.

And for what it’s worth Mark Tainton was a superb player way back when he went to The Chase School for Boys all those years ago.....

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It’s the different levels of cash flow involved football vs rugby.

SL is always going to be drawn into the area that drives & requires the most cash - subsequently delegating more on the less cash reliant side of a business. In respect of Bears vs City the £££’s involved with football is much greater and therefore generates a greater deal of meddling.

In our case Bears are a perfect illustration of the benefit of appointing the right specialist team to operate  more independently.

For City the challenge is that the board believe Ashton is our saviour & the financial stakes are too high for SL not to stay close. 

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32 minutes ago, Kid in the Riot said:

Having just come off the back of a top 4 finish last season and winning a European trophy. There is no comparison to be made in what the rugby has achieved in the past few years versus the football. 

Key difference from the football is that SL is a bit more modest and honest with himself; he doesn't know enough about rugby to have so much of a hands-on, day-to-day role, as he still holds at the football. 

Compare the CEOs/recruitment. 

Bears have a former player, a playing legend in fact, in Mark Tainton who heads up recruitment and is a key board member. Also has years of international coaching experience with Ireland. He is ably assisted by one of the best coaches in world rugby Pat Lam and is assistants who have all enjoyed success in the game at european/International level. SL has no direct involvement.

Aside from Holden (still a relative novice), and possibly the two assistants, there is no representation on the football board of anyone with any substantial playing or coaching experience. Final decisions are nearly always made with SLs blessings, and he remains heavily involved in the recruitment process, especially as we saw in the summer, for the manager's position.

That, in a nutshell, is the crux of the problem. 

Not much to add to this.  It seems glaringly obvious to me who makes the decisions at Bears and who makes them at the Robins

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28 minutes ago, BigAl&Toby said:

Ta. I guess that was my point but I wondered if anyone else either shared that or would be brave enough to say it.

What I don’t get though is why that’s the case. What is it that means The Ls have a hands on approach to the football and yet seem to adopt a different approach with the rugby?

What @Red Alertsays is true. But I think ego plays a big part too. I mean it has to, right? He's a self-made billionaire so he's going to back his own judgement.

You can glean that from his bi-annual (if we're lucky) interviews, in which he treats supporters with increasing disdain, year-on-year. "My club, my decisions. If you don't like it, tough". 

It's an autocracy, and aside from employing Italian ultra style direct action, there's nothing we can do about it. 

Like many other community assets (pubs being another obvious example), the football club no longer serves its community in the way it should. It is sold to the highest bidder for profiteering.

And by the time the land deal for housing is done at Ashton Vale and the sporting quarter is complete, make no mistake, Steve Lansdown will be drawing a very healthy return on his investment.

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If another billionare wanted to buy/take over BCFC would it be very difficult to do?, they would have to take the stadium as well or at least rent it. Would it be even possible to take just our bit of the BS/SL empire or would they have to take the whole thing........would SL even be interested in selling......doubtfull.

So seems like we are in with "the plan" for many years to come, like it or not.

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Putting aside the obvious gulf in experience between Lam and Holden, I think you only need to look at the previous history of the Chief Executive at both clubs, by comparing how Tainton got into his position, compared to Ashton.  Think that has a lot to do with where the focus is.

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1 hour ago, Red Army 75 said:

Bristol Bears have a world class director of rugby in charge of them . Bristol City have a very inexperienced head coach who is a yes man to the powers above . Imagine Pat Lam on the phone to Mark Ashton 4/5 times a day. 

MA is CEO of Bristol City and has said that he’s the main man when it comes to the football club 

I’m assuming that he has bugger all to do with the Bears in any way - is there a CEO of the Bears? I really don’t know.

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Lam Experience vs Holden Inexperience

Tainton Knowledge vs Ashton Punts

£’s vs £££’s

Owner Non-Interference vs Interference

 

Can we change the football model and make it successful? The template is there, is the will?

 

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11 minutes ago, RedRock said:

Lam Experience vs Holden Inexperience

Tainton Knowledge vs Ashton Punts

£’s vs £££’s

Owner Non-Interference vs Interference

 

Can we change the football model and make it successful? The template is there, is the will?

 

I think you’ve nailed the main differences but the overriding factor is the money. Rugby is significantly more ‘affordable’ and therefore sustainable than football. As much as Lansdown wants to build the Bristol Sport model for then benefit of the city and his own legacy, he is a businessman first, and so money will always come first. 

As you’ve said, he’s proven that success is achievable when the correct people are recruited for the correct roles and are given the time and investment to build.
 

Pat Lam didn’t turn the Bears into title challengers and European champions overnight. He was afforded the time, investment and infrastructure to implement it. Which is interesting to me as this is everything that SL and Mark Ashton promise and say we have in place as a ‘premier league team in waiting’, yet the same mistakes in manager recruitment happen time and time again. At some point, if the club trajectory is to truly change, then this needs to come from an internal change more aligned to the Bears. Right people in the right jobs making the right decisions. Bristol City just don’t have that. 
 

 

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As others have said, rugby is much more ‘affordable’ to attain success however, I have read a few articles regarding the Bears success and potential and they are viewed as the Man City of European rugby and are throwing relative large amounts at it.

The money required to do the same in football is higher but with a quality coaching team the amount required diminishes - it does not go away but it does become lower.

For me the coaching set-up and the recruitment policy are all that stands in the way of success.

But for as long as 20k + people keep paying their money (in normal times) not much is going to change.

In fact, because we cannot attend currently DH is getting an easy ride, when we get back in and goodness knows when that will be, the pressure will be on but that won’t change much if he goes.

Get your money on Michael Appleton as our next HC

Edited by ScottishRed
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1 hour ago, Kid in the Riot said:

What @Red Alertsays is true. But I think ego plays a big part too. I mean it has to, right? He's a self-made billionaire so he's going to back his own judgement.

You can glean that from his bi-annual (if we're lucky) interviews, in which he treats supporters with increasing disdain, year-on-year. "My club, my decisions. If you don't like it, tough". 

It's an autocracy, and aside from employing Italian ultra style direct action, there's nothing we can do about it. 

Like many other community assets (pubs being another obvious example), the football club no longer serves its community in the way it should. It is sold to the highest bidder for profiteering.

And by the time the land deal for housing is done at Ashton Vale and the sporting quarter is complete, make no mistake, Steve Lansdown will be drawing a very healthy return on his investment.

@Kid in the Riotwere we twins that were separated at birth? Or are you feeding me lines to see if I bite? 😂

My view on Mr L and his investment in BS3 - as that is what I see it - is well known. He missed out on land upon which Cribbs Causeway and Bradley Stoke was built so looked elsewhere and found a swathe in South Bristol.

I genuinely don’t care about that. What I fear is that his promise to make me proud is a hollow one - at least in a footballing sense - and that’s all I care about.

If I’d wanted to see sporting success in powerboat racing, basketball or rugby then I wouldn’t have sat astride the barriers in the Enclosure when I was a child. If I wanted to go to Expos then I’d probably hop on a train and go to London and go to the Excel.

What I simply don’t get is why the approach to the Bears is so fundamentally different to the football club. And has been and will I suspect continue to be.

Lam -v- Holden.

Tainton -v- Ashton.

I’d love to be proved wrong. Somehow though I doubt it’ll happen.

Happy New Year 😃

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There is clearly a significant difference in the economics of Rugby Union and Football.

However, the salary cap in rugby is there to produce a more level playing field. Thus with a different Head Coach to Pat Lam, Bristol could easily be spending more on player wages than other clubs yet performing worse.

So the amount of cash required for success is irrelevant when the quality of the coaching staff is taken into account.

Lam had proved his ability at Connacht and in public, is a perfect gentleman. In the dressing room and on the training ground, I suspect that he is very firm but fair with all. But no doubt that if the performance is not up to scratch, the personnel will be changed without delay.

He has recruited proven winners to add to similar already at the club. He is always ready to use young Academy players, if injuries to first team squad. And never to criticise anyone in public.

He is a leader of people who allows them to flourish and the rewards are being seen during every match.

Now I accept that as a Championship club and with the FFP rules, that City can not go out and recruit an Ancellotti, Mourinho as their head coach. And Harry Kane would be way out of reach let alone a Neymar or Lewendovski.

But as a Championship club, we need to recruit better quality coaches, players, leaders, winners than we have done.

So I still wonder why SL has got it right with the Bears but so horribly wide of the mark at City. 

Rugby appears to be led by professionals but football by amateurs or semi pros at best.

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2 hours ago, Kid in the Riot said:

What @Red Alertsays is true. But I think ego plays a big part too. I mean it has to, right? He's a self-made billionaire so he's going to back his own judgement.

You can glean that from his bi-annual (if we're lucky) interviews, in which he treats supporters with increasing disdain, year-on-year. "My club, my decisions. If you don't like it, tough". 

It's an autocracy, and aside from employing Italian ultra style direct action, there's nothing we can do about it. 

Like many other community assets (pubs being another obvious example), the football club no longer serves its community in the way it should. It is sold to the highest bidder for profiteering.

And by the time the land deal for housing is done at Ashton Vale and the sporting quarter is complete, make no mistake, Steve Lansdown will be drawing a very healthy return on his investment.

It’s so bloody obvious yet people are so scared to say it. We have an owner who is accountable to NOBODY, it’s his way or the highway and, as you say, if you don’t like it then you are more than welcome to **** right off any time you like.

Is that what people envisaged when SL completely took over this football club as his personal toy? Does anyone think that the “achievements” on his watch justify the complete transfer of control and ownership to one man who wants to meddle in football decisions yet based on meddle after meddle seems to have literally sweet fa football knowledge?

Weve had the best part of 20 years to judge this guy, it’s not a five minute thing where people are sounding off too early, and personally I’m totally underwhelmed, if that makes me an ungrateful bastard in your eyes there’s no need to reply because I couldn’t care less.

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Unfortunately I just don't see it changing with regard our football club, we will just keep going round in circles and hopefully treading water in the championship and not back at the top end of league 1, it won't change.

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1 hour ago, Robbored said:

MA is CEO of Bristol City and has said that he’s the main man when it comes to the football club 

I’m assuming that he has bugger all to do with the Bears in any way - is there a CEO of the Bears? I really don’t know.

It takes about 10 seconds to google, and it’s been mentioned several times already. Yes, Mark Tainton.

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2 minutes ago, Oh Louie louie said:

Well said kid in the riot, i cant argue with those points.

I think 20 years, as chairmen, is long enough, to judge somebody.

Nobodys happy with progress, or appointments.

But the rugby team seems the opposite?

I wouldn’t say nobody? Many people are happy with the progress from perennial league 1 play off contenders to established Championship side knocking at the door of the Prem.

Could it be better? Definitely. Should we have took advantage of some very good changes over the last couple of seasons? Of course. Doesn’t mean we haven’t progressed. In that time many teams have gone the other way, Sunderland, Rovers, Bolton, Portsmouth, Hull, Wigan, Blackpool.

I had a good feeling about Holden and it might be starting to look like I’m wrong (although I won’t judge him until he has either a full squad to pick from or is able to shape the team with a transfer window).

I don’t think LJ was a bad appointment, he may have overstayed his welcome to some but he oversaw year on year progression. The rest of the appointments since GJ have been somewhat disappointing in hindsight though.

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Some points from me as a Gloucester rugby and BCFC fan.

SL is seen as a moneybags by non Bristol fans but all he’s really done is blow everyone else out of the water on marquee signings, which don’t count towards the cap. He has still spent a number of years trying to establish Bristol as a major team and now succeeded, but it is far easier to do it in rugby. 13-14 pro clubs, only Exeter actually making a profit - so if you can afford to hire the best coaches and top players Outside the cap then you will find It makes a difference pretty quickly (as we saw with Ackerman and Mostert / Cipriani et al at Kingsholm before COVID hit).

Compare that to City with dozens of clubs better off than them, no really top level coach would even think about joining them even if they were in the Premier League, FFP prevents SL using his wealth to make a huge difference. Basically a comparison with City is a completely bogus one IMO.

3 minutes ago, MarcusX said:

I wouldn’t say nobody? Many people are happy with the progress from perennial league 1 play off contenders to established Championship side knocking at the door of the Prem.

Could it be better? Definitely. Should we have took advantage of some very good changes over the last couple of seasons? Of course. Doesn’t mean we haven’t progressed. In that time many teams have gone the other way, Sunderland, Rovers, Bolton, Portsmouth, Hull, Wigan, Blackpool.

I had a good feeling about Holden and it might be starting to look like I’m wrong (although I won’t judge him until he has either a full squad to pick from or is able to shape the team with a transfer window).

I don’t think LJ was a bad appointment, he may have overstayed his welcome to some but he oversaw year on year progression. The rest of the appointments since GJ have been somewhat disappointing in hindsight though.

Absolutely.

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1 minute ago, Oh Louie louie said:

Knocking on the door of the prem?

Are you sure?

 

Well we’ve been close to the play offs in recent years which are a 3 game shoot out from the Prem. So knocking on the door seems reasonable.

There’s also a lot of neutral pundits who’d agree with that.

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1 hour ago, glos old boy said:

If another billionare wanted to buy/take over BCFC would it be very difficult to do?, they would have to take the stadium as well or at least rent it. Would it be even possible to take just our bit of the BS/SL empire or would they have to take the whole thing........would SL even be interested in selling......doubtfull.

So seems like we are in with "the plan" for many years to come, like it or not.

Exactly.  I have been making this same point for years.

We at City have been completely stuffed by the Bristol Sport setup.

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1 hour ago, deadredfred said:

I think you’ve nailed the main differences but the overriding factor is the money. Rugby is significantly more ‘affordable’ and therefore sustainable than football. As much as Lansdown wants to build the Bristol Sport model for then benefit of the city and his own legacy, he is a businessman first, and so money will always come first. 

As you’ve said, he’s proven that success is achievable when the correct people are recruited for the correct roles and are given the time and investment to build.
 

Pat Lam didn’t turn the Bears into title challengers and European champions overnight. He was afforded the time, investment and infrastructure to implement it. Which is interesting to me as this is everything that SL and Mark Ashton promise and say we have in place as a ‘premier league team in waiting’, yet the same mistakes in manager recruitment happen time and time again. At some point, if the club trajectory is to truly change, then this needs to come from an internal change more aligned to the Bears. Right people in the right jobs making the right decisions. Bristol City just don’t have that. 
 

 

What I don’t get though from a successful businessman given that football is significantly more expensive, is that the problems you have in your financial model result in far greater financial impacts. So you constantly plan, monitor, manage. 

Given my understanding of our football strategy it should be that our spend on the management and support infrastructure, proportionate as compared to other Club’s models, should be higher than on players. Those players that are recruited by some of the best in the business, thoroughly researched and as ‘proven’ as they can be. 

The strategy repeatedly fails with us, as it seems the CEO, Manager and support staff are nowhere near living up to expectations. Hence the model fails... unlike the Brentford’s of this world who seem to have adopted a similar approach.  That may be because we haven’t invested sufficiently and/or wisely in the ‘human resource’. We certainly can’t criticise for lack of investment in the hard infrastructure! 

My view is that the CEO has some explaining to do. I think someone has alluded to him marking his own work, which ain’t healthy in any environment. I, like many - given SL appears wedded to Ashton and the strategy -have been calling for a Director of Football appointment for many a year. That position needs to be ‘top dog’ over the Operating Officer in my view. 

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