David Parkin on silly season at Leeds United, petty political posturing and cricket capers

HANDS up if you don’t receive enough emails?

With that question alone, Microsoft’s Dave Coplin, who revels in the title of Chief Envisioning Officer, captured the hearts and minds of a high level business audience at a KPMG Enterprise event in Leeds this week.

Alongside Dave on the stage at Aspire were Yorkshire Carnegie coach and former Scottish rugby international Bryan Redpath, Adam Beaumont, founder of Leeds-based technology business aql and Luke Allen, director of consultancy firm KPMG Nunwood.

With a panel of speakers like that it made for a pretty easy day’s work for me as the event compere.

My rationale was simple: the audience want to hear the speakers not me, so I’m just here to keep it swiftly moving along.

That was also helped by the fact that KPMG partner Ian Beaumont, who leads its Enterprise programme in Yorkshire, is happy to create a platform for discussion rather than dominating that discussion.

It all made for a very positive experience.

The audience had clearly been impressed by what they heard, particularly the common sense approach of Microsoft’s Dave Coplin, an advocate of not seeing clearing your inbox as a day’s work well done.

I mentioned that Dave and I were at secondary school together in Derbyshire a long time ago.

I thanked him for coming to Leeds and reminding me of my inadequacies yet again.


I ONLY thought to myself last week that something was a bit odd.

It was almost mid-September and Leeds United still had the same manager it began the season with.

Then the news broke that executive director Adam Pearson had quit the club after only four months.

He said he needed to spend more time on his Super League club Hull FC and he was leaving Leeds United in a good position with a good team in place off the field.

After a couple of years maybe, but you don’t make a decision to leave after four months for those reasons.

After a crazy season last year in which owner Massimo Cellino despatched four managers and had to stand down for a period after he had been convicted of tax evasion by a court in his native Italy.

Pearson, a former director of Leeds and ex-chairman of Hull City and Derby County, arrived after the end of last season and was involved in the appointment of manager Uwe Rosler, the recruitment of a number of talented players and certainly appeared to have a calming effect on the often erratic Cellino.

And now he’s gone.

I have no inside knowledge, but I’d have a guess that working with Cellino is a draining experience. He changed managers 36 times in 22 years when he owned Italian club Cagliari and he shows absolutely no signs of getting tired of that habit at Leeds.

Without the calm presence of the astute football and business brain of Pearson, Cellino’s trigger finger will be itching again.

Uwe Rosler’s future must now surely be in doubt.


WHILE most people at Headingley were settling down for a sunny day at the cricket, David Cameron was seeking forgiveness from what he described as two of the “greatest living Yorkshiremen”.

Sir Dickie Bird and Geoffrey Boycott? I always thought the Prime Minister displayed some iffy judgement.

Surely the county can find more worthy beneficiaries of the title than that pair?

Or perhaps not.

You see, what the Premier was talking to them about was a bit of a PR gaffe in which he was recorded rehearsing an answer to a question on devolution and the number of bids from the county.

Ahead of a speech in Leeds, he said: “We just thought people in Yorkshire hated everyone else, we didn’t realise they hated each other so much.”

He laughed off the embarrassment during a visit to the one day match between England and Australia at Headingley and an appearance on Test Match Special.

And aside from the po-faced Yorkshire Post and a few rabid lefties, most people, even other politicians, took Cameron’s comments in good spirits.

But his words, even if said in total jest, did highlight the fact that when local authorities from Yorkshire were asked to submit bids for devolution as part of Chancellor George Osborne’s wider Northern Powerhouse idea, six were received.

And rather than highlighting unity and purpose across the region, they only served to show how small-minded many of the local politicians in Yorkshire really are.

Rather than looking to secure the best possible opportunities and future for this vast region, you get the impression they are totally obsessed with cementing their own spheres of influence.

Meanwhile Manchester, which was always likely to take the lead in the Northern Powerhouse given the talent and influence of its politicians and its swift acceptance of the government’s demand that it elect a mayor, is given another free run by those who think they know what they’re doing on this side of the Pennines.


IT sounds like my trip to the one day international at Headingley was a lot more relaxing than the Prime Minister’s.

I was fortunate to be a guest of Andy Wood, managing partner of Grant Thornton in Leeds.

He put together a nice mix of guests and even though England won, the conversation off the pitch was often as absorbing as the action on it.

As I paused to check a couple of emails on my phone, a booming voice could be heard saying: “Don’t pretend you are looking at that because you’ve got friends, because we know you haven’t.”

The voice belonged to larger-than-life insolvency practitioner Steve O’Hara, who promptly invited me to join in his group, who were racking up drinks faster that the Aussies were picking up runs out on the pitch.

I politely declined Steve’s invitation to join him in hitting the target of 12 (pints) before 12 (noon) then 20 before 2pm.

I wandered back to my seat with a small white wine and tried to find a friend to phone.

Have a great weekend.

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