The big interview: Norwich City's new chief operating officer Ben Kensell
PUBLISHED: 14:17 17 October 2018 | UPDATED: 07:12 18 October 2018
Ben Kensell insists it is ‘business as usual’ after Steve Stone’s exit as managing director.
Kensell will now head up the commercial side of the club, following Stone’s departure which was officially confirmed last week, as part of a revamped structure alongside sporting director Stuart Webber and business and project director Zoe Ward.
Kensell is convinced the revised corporate model will equip the Canaries to build on the positive signs where it matters most under head coach Daniel Farke this season.
“Let’s be very frank, Delia, Michael and the board want a collaborative one club feel to Norwich City. That is why this set up is now in place at a senior level,” said Kensell. “I worked with Zoe way before Stuart came into the business, right back when she was appointed by David (McNally).
“We get on very well and with Stuart I have nothing but admiration for what he has done and we work closely.
“We now want to work even closer together between the football and the business side of the club and the focus with Stuart managing the football side, me managing the commercial side and Zoe, as the conduit managing big projects like the Canary bond is massive.
“It is not just about us but all the hundreds of other members of staff heading in the right direction.”
Kensell is not daunted by stepping up from his role as commercial director at Carrow Road following Stone’s sudden exit.
“It was a surprise, and would be perceived as such perhaps outside the football club. But inside it is very much business as usual,” he said. “We have jobs to do and everyone is aware this is a collective responsibility, whether it is preparing the players or on the business side.
“People are sad to see Steve go but he is not the first person to leave the football club. We have to move forward.
“As commercial director of the club, in terms of the finance element, then I have worked on a day to day basis to generate revenue. That balancing of the books is one of our three key pillars - revenue, efficiency and player trading - that make up our turnover. I was already delivering a lot of that work. That wasn’t Steve, so I knew what the job looked like.
“We have grown the revenue in the last four years I had been doing that role, we have far more engagement with the business community. Now, for me, it’s taking on other aspects like support services that are very important to us and stadium management.
“It is all-encompassing but essentially the non football side of the business. People know my management style, I would think they want to work with me and now we just want to encourage them to be the best they can be.”
Kensell’s brief is simple.
“We are a self-financed club and we have to balance those books to get a winning team on the pitch,” he said. “We have to continue the great work Steve did in engaging with fans.
“That is really, really important. Safe standing is an important driver that I was a massive advocate of, a champion of, so that is another key area. We want to try and build the atmosphere in the ground, to commercialise our club and ensure we are sold out every week to generate the revenues to give Daniel and Stuart the best opportunity to get a team on the pitch.
“We also have to finish the existing projects, like the training ground.
“There is lots of work to do in terms of bricks and mortar at Colney, in growing the culture and making sure the two sites are one. We also have the tie up with the Community Sports Foundation (CSF) and that is vital to us.”