British Eventing heads for ‘stability’

  • British Eventing (BE) has made a second about-turn over the make up of its leadership in just three months.

    But chief executive Mike Etherington-Smith insists there will be no more changes.

    “It’s fair to say BE could do with a period of stability,” he reflected, following a turbulent two years for the organisation.

    In November, former BE sport director Mr Etherington-Smith was promoted to chief executive — a post that was scrapped in April 2007, when previous chief executive Peter Durrant was suddenly made redundant.

    But at its AGM last October, BE admitted its constitution required the appointment of a chief executive. Mr Etherington-Smith was consequently promoted and a new sport director position was advertised (news, 13 November 2008).

    Now the board claims a sport director is unnecessary but says a commercial director is needed to head BE’s marketing team.

    The board has also promoted Debbie Marfell (formerly sport and technical assistant) and Paul Graham (formerly international teams liaison officer) to become sport managers.

    Debbie will focus on event organisation, rules, fixtures and discipline and Paul will look after rider-related issues, including international competitions, safety and training.

    Chairman of the Event Riders Association (UK) Nick Gauntlett said the promotion of Paul and Debbie “can only be good”.

    Mr Etherington-Smith said new company secretary Wendy McGowan has taken “a number of jobs off his desk” leaving him more time for the sport.

    He added: “Like all businesses at the present time, we need to strengthen our commercial side.”

    Scotland and northern England regional director Iain Graham had been tipped for the post of sport director. He declined to comment on whether he had been interviewed for the job, but was positive about the change, saying he would continue to support Mr Etherington-Smith.

    This article was first published in Horse & Hound (12 February, ’09)

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