Paul Blanchard of Commonwealth Games England delivers guest lecture on campus

Wednesday 20 December 2017


Coventry University London regularly hosts speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds to deliver guest lectures, enabling students to gain exposure to professionals from a number of different industries. Paul Blanchard, Chief Executive of Commonwealth Games England, recently delivered a guest lecture on campus, giving students insight into the competitive sports industry, funding and sponsorship, management, and career advice. 

Paul opened his talk by introducing himself and talking about his experience - from marketing and commercial roles with Ladbrokes, Southampton Football Club and the Oval cricket ground, to CEO roles with sports teams and the Surrey Sports Park. In Paul’s current role, he is responsible for overseeing the team that governs England’s participation in the Commonwealth Games. Students learned about Commonwealth Games England (CGE) being one of 70 participating associations around the world, and one of the few to have attended all Games since they were first held in 1930  in Canada as the British Empire Games.

Following this, Paul shared insights with the students about the organisation, management, planning and funding of large events such as the Commonwealth Games. The next Games will be held on the Gold Coast, Australia, in 2018, with CGE needing to raise £8 million of funding in total. This represents a 50% increase on the 2014 Games in Glasgow, where England placed 1st. The money is sourced from both public and private funding, including over £2.5m in sponsorships. Paul described how all sports institutions have challenges in sourcing funding, and are constantly looking at ways to find new funding streams, much like any business.

Expanding on the nature of sports funding, Paul detailed the very competitive market with brands demanding a tangible return on investment for their sponsorship. Challenges particular to the Commonwealth Games include the limited branding and media opportunities during the Games, as well as the limited commercial value compared to events such as the Olympic Games. However, Paul explained ways in which the unique selling points of the Games can be promoted to sponsors, such as the fact that sponsors would be supporting the UK’s most successful, inclusive and diverse sporting team, as well as the need to shift focus to Commonwealth trading partners following Brexit. 

Paul closed his talk by giving career advice to students both generally and specifically within the sports industry. He emphasised the importance of doing your research and the value of networking. Paul mentioned that you only have around 20 seconds to make an impression with your CV, comparing this to track and field events, where you may not win a medal during the early stage of the race, but you can certainly lose one. While your CV will not get you a job, at that early stage it can definitely lose you one.

Coventry University London looks forward to welcoming Paul for future guest lectures and hearing first-hand about CGE’s experience at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.