PSA Chief Gawain Briars To Retire
7 Mar 2008
Gawain Briars has revealed his decision to retire from the post as Chief Executive of the Professional Squash Association on 31st March 2008. Under Briars's stewardship since October 1999, the PSA has enjoyed an exponential growth in tour event numbers, tour revenue and membership numbers.
Briars inherited a world tour programme of 100 events with US$ 1.5 million prize money. The PSA Tour currently boasts over 371 events and a total prize fund in excess of US$ 3.2 million - a dramatic increase. Furthermore, membership numbers have increased in that time from 301 to over 400 players from 59 countries, covering the five continental regions of the world. Television, both programme and live through the PSA Super Series coverage, has continued and built on its strong lead in the promotion of squash worldwide as the sport seeks to increase its exposure in a competitive and congested market.
The introduction of the Point-a-Rally scoring system to eleven points was promoted and driven by Briars. This reform has contributed more than any other to the new era of exciting and dynamic performance at the top level. The former world No4 led the Association into the pioneering web streaming service PSALive, in conjunction with partners Horizon Software Systems, which provides live, replay and archive coverage of all major PSA events in the year and continues to increase as a service and broadcast medium opportunity for the professional game.
"Gawain's retirement as Chief Executive marks a turning point for the Association," said PSA Chairman Mark Chaloner. "His high standards have led the men's professional game into a new era where compensation levels, event and membership numbers are at an unsurpassed level. His legal experience has been invaluable in ensuring the Association is well placed in its increasingly complex contractual arrangements, and his willingness to continuously travel the world to visit our customers and tournaments has ensured that PSA's profile has remained at the highest level. Under Gawain's steady stewardship the Association has reached a point now where its resources and broadcast vision provide us with our best opportunity to harness the appeal of the men's game as the most exciting spectator sport.
"PSA thanks Gawain for his major contribution to our development and wishes him the very best for his retirement and future plans."
Briars added: "I have immensely enjoyed my nine years at the helm of PSA. These have been uniquely challenging times for the growth and marketing of the professional game and I am privileged to have had the opportunity of taking part in the steady and marked growth of the tour in all its facets. The lot of the professional squash player is an exceptionally hard one with travel and on court physical exertion tested to the maximum. The players deserve every dollar they receive and more. I am confident that my successor will continue to provide increased events and remuneration to the players who travel the world exhibiting their talents.
"I will be passing now to the next phase of my working career, pleased that my contribution to the PSA has been positive and rewarding. I especially want to thank my staff at Cardiff head office and, in particular, my Tour Executive Sheila Cooksley. She has been my rock of support in the office as I travelled the world, and in leading our ladies Anna, Lynne, Alison and Sheryl.
"I wish to also thank the PSA Board of Directors for their understanding and support through the years, especially when difficult decisions have required support and faith for the greater cause. I have made many wonderful new friends during this time and renewed old acquaintances from my playing days, but I want to single out for special thanks both Jack Herrick and Robert Edwards for their help and support of my projects on behalf of the Association. Their insight and experience has been an invaluable asset in assisting me through the years and consequently been of benefit to the fortunes of PSA."
Briars concluded: "I wish the Association the very best for its next phase of development. The professional game is a fabulous product and has a shining future."
The PSA will be initiating a search for a new Chief Executive in the near future.
"We can assure all our partners that normal service will continue at PSA in the period until a new appointment is made," explained Chaloner. "The Cardiff staff, headed by Tour Director Sheila Cooksley, will continue with the excellent work they do in managing the PSA Tour - and Ted Wallbutton, former CEO of the World Squash Federation, will step in as interim CEO of PSA to facilitate the change process and ensure that there is effective communication at all levels."