Keith Wyness

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Keith Wyness
Born
Keith Wyness

(1957-10-26) 26 October 1957 (age 62)
Aberdeen, Scotland
OccupationFormer Aston Villa CEO
Former Everton CEO
Former Aberdeen CEO

Keith Wyness (born 26 October 1958) is a Scottish businessman and football executive, most recently he was the Chief Executive of Aston Villa football club. He previously held the same position at Scottish Premier League club Aberdeen and later Premier League club Everton during the 2000s.

Early years[edit]

Prior to entering the football industry, his employers included British Airways, Radisson and the Olympic Club. Wyness joined British Airways on its graduate scheme and worked in the press office/sales promotion/marketing/sales areas before he was appointed the youngest vice-president in the airline's history. He was responsible for marketing Concorde.[citation needed] He was also instrumental in the development of the "Executive Club" frequent flyer programme.

Wyness moved to Miami in 1984 and co-founded Radisson Diamond with Christian Aspegren and Offe Nyblin. He was heavily involved with marketing for the cruise lines and was later involved with the attempted and aborted takeover of Cunard. He sat on the Board of Landry & Kling, the largest corporate cruise ship charter company in the world. He was then the founder and later the managing director of The Olympic Club, a worldwide marketing programme set up to promote every Olympic sport, and aided the marketing of the sports involved in the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.

He appeared on the University of Nottingham team for University Challenge winning two games before losing to a Belfast team in the third.[1]

Aberdeen[edit]

On 22 October 2000, Wyness moved back to his home town of Aberdeen when he was appointed chief executive of Aberdeen F.C.. He became famous for several quotes regarding the behaviour of the Old Firm of Rangers and Celtic, who were looking to move to another league. A quote which was listed as Scottish Sports quote of the year was:

[citation needed]

Despite the Scottish Premier League's television rights deal with Sky Sports ending soon after he arrived, Wyness was able to reduce the losses sustained by the club and when he left the club was close to operational break even.[citation needed] He introduced radical new player contracts with lower basic wages but big bonuses for points, attendance and even for merchandise sales, attracting media attention throughout Europe. Wyness left Aberdeen in 2004 to take a similar position at Everton. This appointment caused some controversy as he had been linked to the vacant position at Everton before he left Aberdeen. Wyness was succeeded as CEO by CFO Duncan Fraser[2]

Everton[edit]

Wyness' tenure at Everton was met with a mixed response from fans and opinion remains divided on his outsourcing preferences and pursuit of the stadium build in Kirkby.[citation needed] He was criticised by shareholders for pursuing Everton's relocation whilst an active director of Soccer Range Stadia – a stadium management company he set up.[citation needed] However, the company had absolutely nothing to do with stadium management and was in fact a leisure use for football and he had offered Everton a chance to participate in the revenue streams that would have come from this concept.[citation needed]

Wyness outsourced in-house operations to reduce the short-term cost.[citation needed] The club's catering arrangements were outsourced to Sodexo UK, and the club shops were outsourced to the sports retailer JJB Sports, who later filed for administration.[citation needed] The JJB deal turned the £1.5 million loss the club was making on merchandising alone into a profit of £800,000.[citation needed] He also was responsible for negotiating the new Kitbag deal which has taken club sales to £10 million. The savings were also significant in terms of staff time and it was soon recognised that the club was not equipped to handle a retail operation.[citation needed]

The club's land assets, such as the Eileen Craven site on Walton Lane in Liverpool, were sold and developed into housing areas to help the club keep trading without selling players.[3] For one year, Everton was in the top 20 of the Deloitte's table of clubs,[citation needed] but moved out of that list the next year after the merchandise and catering operations were outsourced and could no longer be included in turnover.[citation needed]

The former training ground Bellefield was also earmarked to become a housing development by Wyness. However, plans were later rejected by the Planning Inspectorate.[citation needed] It was felt by the club that this was a highly political decision by the local council linked to the potential move to Kirkby.[4] Wyness was the main power behind the development of Finch Farm; he sourced the finance and the design for Everton's new training facility, which opened in November 2007.[5] He arranged for Everton to purchase the training facility and sell it on to a third-party company and lease it back. It is considered one of the top training facilities in the Premier League.[citation needed]

He was responsible for coordinating the acquisition of the David France artefacts which together with a donation from the club's collection formed The Everton Collection, regarded as "most important football memorabilia collection in the world" by the auctioneers Sotheby's.[6] A charitable trust was established which attracted National Lottery funding, meaning that Everton did not have to pay for the maintenance of the memorabilia.[citation needed] The collection is held at the Liverpool Records Office.[citation needed]

The relocation of the club to Kirkby was a very contentious issue. Although the board all agreed, he was left to be the only director to face the fans and argue the case in public.[citation needed] It was recognised that staying in the city was the preferred option but no deliverable option could be found despite many attempts.[citation needed]

Wyness was also an advocate of Game 39.[citation needed] He resigned from Everton on a matter of principle over the alleged involvement of Sir Philip Green acting as a shadow director.(The Times). It is understood the Board were sorry to see him go and he was considered one of the leading CEO's at this time in the Premier League and had charted the upward rise of the club since he took over at a difficult time in 2004.

In May 2009, he wrote to the Liverpool Daily Post lambasting Liverpool City Council's decision to spend £265,000 fighting the Kirkby Project.[7]

2010–2016[edit]

He was CEO of Insite Consulting Ltd, an international consulting business.[citation needed] Insite was instrumental in getting the correct IFAB approvals for the very successful 9.15m vanishing spray which was used in the 2014 FIFA World Cup with great success and will continue with the companies development.[citation needed] Insite covered projects in Oman and Saudi Arabia as well as the USA and Canada for sports and industrial related projects. This included reorganising football in those countries and the possible introduction of T20 cricket to the USA.

As senior non executive director at the SECC for 8 years he oversaw many aspects of the World leading "Hydro Arena" in Glasgow a state of the art 13,000 seat live venue. It was also the centrepiece of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. He is involved in several major property development sin the NW as part of the Northern Powerhouse project and also in the London area with a major mixed use development in Greenwich. He was also Non executive Director of De Poel Ltd and appointed after an extensive search.

Aston Villa[edit]

Wyness was appointed as CEO by the new owner of Aston Villa Tony Xia in June 2016.[8] On 2 June 2017 Wyness was banned from all football-related activity for three weeks after FA acted over an offensive post. This was disputed vehemently by Wyness. [9]

On 5 June 2018, Wyness was suspended by Aston Villa with "immediate effect" in a club statement and left the club later that summer.[10] In the midst of a financial crisis at Aston Villa, where the club faced a winding up order over a £4 million unpaid tax bill, Wyness was accused of having spoken about the club's financial situation with third parties, without the knowledge of Xia.[11]

On 28 May 2019, after Aston Villa had achieved promotion to the Premier League, Wyness publically called Xia, who was celebrating the victory, a "fraud".[12]

In June 2019, Wyness also attempted to sue Dr. Tony Xia, but was unsuccessful, after a judge ruled that any attempt at legal action would be prejudiced against Xia due to the financial and time costs he would incur defending himself.[13]

On 18 October 2019, amidst rumours that former Aston Villa owner Tony Xia had a warrant out for his arrest, Wyness tweeted; "karma is a bitch".[14] Tony Xia responded by accusing Wyness of attempting to force Aston Villa into administration, and a subsequent 12-point deduction, whilst asking for extra payment himself, during their time at the helm.[15]

On 1 November 2019, Aston Villa settled out of court with Wyness with regards to a claim of unfair dismissal.[16] Aston Villa's new directors, none of whom were at the club at the time of the dispute, made a public statement that they accepted Wyness had acted in the best interests of the club at all times and wished him well for the future.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The new Everton boss who's game for a laugh". Liverpool Echo. 13 September 2004.
  2. ^ "Wyness leaves Aberdeen". BBC.co.uk. 30 July 2004.
  3. ^ "2005 Accounts" (PDF). evertonfc.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 December 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  4. ^ "Planning Appeal Rejected". evertonfc.com. 20 January 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  5. ^ "Finch Farm Fully Operational". evertonfc.com. 11 August 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
  6. ^ "'12th Man' honoured". Liverpool.gov.uk. Retrieved 15 May 2009.[dead link]
  7. ^ Bartlett, David (15 May 2009). "War of words over stadium". Liverpool Daily Post. Retrieved 15 May 2009.
  8. ^ Murphy, Pat (14 June 2016). "Aston Villa: Dr Tony Xia completes takeover of Championship club". BBC Sport.
  9. ^ "Aston Villa chief executive Keith Wyness suspended for social media misconduct". BBC Sport. 2 June 2017.
  10. ^ "Keith Wyness: Aston Villa chief executive suspended by Championship club". BBC Sport. 5 June 2018.
  11. ^ Evans, Gregg (6 June 2018). "Keith Wyness investigated over huge bust-up with owner Tony Xia". Birmingham Mail.
  12. ^ Chapman, Joseph (28 May 2019). "Former Aston Villa chief takes a brutal one word swipe at Tony Xia". Birmingham Mail.
  13. ^ Rudge, Dean (5 June 2019). "Here's what happened when Keith Wyness tried to sue Tony Xia". Birmingham Mail.
  14. ^ Preece, Ashley (18 October 2019). "'Karma is a ****' Former Aston Villa chief sends Tony Xia savage message". Birmingham Mail.
  15. ^ "Dr. Tony Xia Twitter". Twitter. 18 October 2019.
  16. ^ Maher, Matt (1 November 2019). "Aston Villa reach settlement with former CEO Keith Wyness". Express & Star. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  17. ^ Kemble, Jamie (1 November 2019). "Aston Villa settle claim by former chief executive Keith Wyness". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 29 November 2019.


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