Amid all the speculation about (Lord) Sebastian Coe (left) succeeding Lord Patten as chairman of the BBC Trust – the body that’s supposed to oversee the Corporation but doesn’t really – the fact that Coe has another job, executive chairman of Chime Communications’ GLG sports division – has been rather overlooked.
Coe sold his sports-based Complete Leisure Group to Chime for £12m in 2012. We don’t know if this was cash up front. More likely there was an earn-out element which would mean that if Coe was parachuted into the BBC he would still need to spend the rest of his time at Chime. Which would lead to a pretty obvious conflict of interest as Chime/GLG will be hoping to cash in mightily on this summer’s World Cup and the Olympic Games (also in Brazil if they manage to build enough stadia) two years later.
The World Cup and the Olympics are probably the two biggest events in the BBC calendar. Coe himself made his name as an administrator (following a stellar career as an Olympics gold medal middle-distance runner and a less notable stint as a Tory MP) by bossing the highly successful London Olympics in 2012.
Chime, since Lord Bell and ally Piers Pottinger departed with the Bell Pottinger PR business, is basically a sports marketing company with a successful ad agency, VCCP, bolted on. Coe’s standing in the sports world is clearly a key part of its offer.
The first chairman of the BBC Trust Sir Michael Lyons remarked the other day that he’d completely under-estimated the amount of ‘incoming fire’ from a mainly hostile media and right-wing politicians that the BBC chairman faced. Even the capable and popular Coe might find himself under fire without some career tidying up.