The news that World Sailing is facing financial difficulties comes as no shock to member National Authorities (MNAs) who watched in horror as an office move from Southampton to London created a financial and human resources nightmare in one fell swoop.
Cash and people haemorrhaged from the organisation leaving World Sailing depending on a bailout from the IOC, as the MNAs are unlikely to be in a position to assist in these COVID-ravaged times, they themselves desperately trying to stave off financial ruin.
While publicly they will hesitate from saying “I told you so”, privately the influential MNAs will be asking serious questions of the World Sailing Board and looking for immediate effective action to start the road to recovery.
The first step will be to move the office out of London to the lowest cost location with reasonable access to a hub airport. Office parks within easy reach of Heathrow currently rent at about one fifth that of central London.
"World Sailing’s current office is a personal vanity project that needs to be ended asap"
A modern International Federation’s offices do not need to be a showcase. World Sailing’s current office is a personal vanity project that needs to be ended asap.
Staff costs, excluding CEO, at World sailing increased from £1.19m in 2014 to £1.9m in 2018. World Sailing must cut back to the minimum necessary to maintain Olympic status, a job that is made easier by the lack of activity due to the current crisis.
World Sailing has suffered from a lack of quality leadership since 2015, with obvious impacts on staff morale and financial probity. A Chief Executive who has organisational ambitions rather than personal aggrandisement is now vital to restore World Sailing to a viable functioning federation, focussed on serving its members. In addition to the actions above, his/her first steps should be to establish a relationship with the MNAs and Class Associations, something that did not happen under previous CEOs.
World Sailing must act now and act decisively if a total collapse is to be avoided.