Ashforth's Angles: How to bring back the Hills glory days

James Henderson was fired as chief executive of Hills in July

  PICTURE: David Dew 

 By David Ashforth 17:50PM 18 SEP 2016 

WILLIAM HILL have got themselves into a pickle, as Bill Barber’s article on Friday made clear. The first thing they must do is find a chief executive. Personally, I’ve always favoured the alphabetical approach to appointments and although acting chief executive Philip Bowcock has solid credentials anyone who went to school will know that a B is not as good as an A. My case rests.

John Brown, the man who took Hills to new heights, would be turning in his grave if he wasn’t still alive and although the new chief executive (me) will not be asking Ralph Topping, Brown’s successor, for advice Topping is right when he stresses the importance of employing individuals “with longevity in the gambling business”.

I had my first bet 50 years ago so when it comes to longevity …. need I say more? I shouldn’t need to add that I trust William Hill will not add ageism to its shortcomings.

Trafalgar trouble

When a company launches a sports betting platform called Project Trafalgar you know something’s gone seriously wrong. At the end of the previous Project Trafalgar Admiral Horatio Nelson was dead.

Hills commander James Henderson has gone and my first act will be to rename the project Sleepless In Seattle, so you know it’ll have a happy ending.

My second act will be to replace myself with Denise Coates who, as the driving force behind bet365, is clearly much better than everyone else. I’ll encourage her to get stuck into plenty of Mars bars and chips to build her up a bit. Then I’ll resign and leave it to her, after executing my third and fourth acts.

My third act will be to get rid of all Hills’s gaming machines, thereby occupying the moral high ground as well as putting an end to the dreadful things, albeit at the cost of over half our profits and most of our shops.

My fourth act will be to turn all Hills’s assets into cash and bet the house and everyone in it on Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the USA. Obviously this isn’t without risk but as every gambler knows you can’t accumulate if you don’t speculate and risk is part of the business. It will make for an exciting couple of months. If Donald Trump wins there’s not much point carrying on anyway.

Before I leave for the Seychelles, courtesy of one of those enormous payoffs that are a recognised corporate reward for failure, I’ll put a note on Coates’s desk to let her know that someone called Crispin Nieboer is sorting out the online mess. Good luck!

New face at Hamilton

Before taking up my new post there is time to point you towards the seller at Hamilton (4.20). Alexandra Dunn, from over 400 miles away in Somerset, has her first runner at Hamilton with Istimraar. Dunn bought Istimraar last month for £7,000 and if the five-year-old is going to win for her on the Flat this is a good chance to do it.

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