|Alex Gough – CEO, Professional Squash Association|
|Profile of the week|
Friday, 08 February 2013 16:40
Alex Gough is the CEO of the Professional Squash Association (PSA).
Alex first joined the organisation as Director in 2002 when he was still an active squash professional on the tour. Shortly after his retirement as a player, Alex became the COO of PSA in June 2008, dedicating his time to furthering the growth of the sport that has played such an important role in his life. In February 2009 Alex was appointed CEO of PSA.
As a player, Alex was ranked in the world’s top ten for over 28 months and achieved his highest world ranking of 5 in July 1998. During his career he won a total of 10 World Tour titles and a Bronze Medal in the men’s singles event at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Alex also holds a 1st Class Honours degree in Mathematics from the University of Wales in Cardiff.
By Ismail Uddin
What does your role entail at the Professional Squash Association?
My role as Chief Executive of the PSA is to oversee the Tour and all its elements. We sanction 120 events through the year. We look after 500 players on the Tour. It’s effectively managing the office on that Tour, so working out how to get more tournaments onto the Tour and how we manage all of those tournaments so that they’re always improving. The biggest element of everything in the last two or three years has been working on the TV product for squash, trying to maximise the look of the sport and get it onto TV as widely as we can.
As you were a professional squash player, how has that experience helped you as CEO of PSA?
We always had two or three playing members on the Board of Directors, so as well as playing I was on the Board of Directors for about five years, which helped to look into the nuts and bolts of the association – the financials and how the Tour was run. From a player’s point of view, for over 15 years we saw the good, the bad and the ugly of what the tournaments were doing. We have got some fantastic tournaments, some middle tournaments and some not so good, so I’m able to know what’s happening at all of those different levels. As a player you go in and play those smaller tournaments, so I can always look at something from a player’s perspective. That hopefully makes quite a big difference when we’re trying to decide on various aspects of the sport. It’s not just coming in from elsewhere and not really understanding what the players are going through.
You’ve mentioned broadcasting is a big part of PSA’s strategy. You recently agreed a deal with Sky for the PSA World Series Finals. What coverage did you receive from having the broadcast on Sky in the UK as a whole?
It was very good. It’s the second year that we’ve done it live and we had five hours coverage on the Saturday afternoon and then three hours on the Sunday. Our ultimate aim is to get squash on TV live, so with Sky being one of the premier broadcasters it’s a real step forward for us. Eurosport 2 had the coverage live as well, which is another big step for us. Eurosport 2 covers about 46 countries so that’s another big step for us because that’s the first time they have taken it. Broadcasters like Sky won’t take it unless it’s good enough so it feels like we’re going in the right direction.
Is this a major boost to the sport, with all of the coverage that the World Series Final has received?
Yes, totally. Off the back of getting the Finals on [Sky], we’re in discussion of trying to get more tournaments on live TV. Sky would take all of the World Series tournaments, but in a highlights package. We’d give the highlights to them every time there’s an event, which works out at about once a month, but we’d like to go from one live tournament to two, and then three and keep building that way until ultimately they’re all there. We’ve still got a little way to go on that front but at least they’ve given us the confirmation that our Finals are definitely good enough to be there.
PSA also announced last month a partnership with ASB as official court partner. What was the thinking behind that partnership?
We keep coming back to TV, but it’s such a massive part of what we’re trying to do and we’re filming the glass courts that travel around the world, so one of the main reasons for the partnership is so that we’re in conversations with those guys - week in, week out – on how we can make them look better. We are looking into all sorts of developments with them and we just felt that an easier way of doing that is partnering with them. If it’s just an independent company then they are not going to invest in some of those developments because it’s too separate. As a partnership, they’re quite open to having those discussions.