Huw Evans, Chairman of the Scarlets region for the past 14 years has announced he will step down, handing over to leading Welsh businessman, entrepreneur and passionate Scarlet Nigel Short.
The move was ratified at a board of directors meeting held last week. Mr Short, 48, who lives in Whitland, Carmarthenshire is also chairman of internationally-acclaimed Welsh Whisky distillery Penderyn and takes over the Scarlets chair with immediate effect. Huw Evans, who is founder and chair of Regional Rugby Wales, pioneered the move of the Scarlets to their successful and highly-regarded Parc y Scarlets stadium and has been instrumental in taking the region forward during a period of change; including retaining the Scarlets’ brand and heritage by achieving stand-alone status when Welsh rugby went regional.
Mr Evans said that the time was now right for him to hand over the reins at the region and has been working closely with Nigel Short over the past two years on regional business. He said he had “huge confidence” in his successor and that the news was “a big and positive step forward” for the Scarlets. Short joined the Scarlets Board in September 2010.
“This is an exciting time to be a Scarlet with some great rugby talent coming through the ranks and huge promise on and off the pitch at Parc y Scarlets; this includes a fast-growing stadium events and venue business. We are stirring energy, enthusiasm, pride and passion in our rugby communities and wider support base and there’s a great deal to look forward to in the future,” said Huw Evans.
“The time was right for me personally. This is a very positive announcement and a big step in preparing the Scarlets for the next phase of development. I’m handing over with huge confidence and belief to a new chairman who is a highly successful international businessman and passionate Welshman and Scarlet. He has vast experience and a range of skills ideally suited to this role including strong financial management and a flair for marketing.
“Nigel is incredibly committed to Welsh rugby, in particular development of the game and young talent from his experiences as a junior rugby coach. As a person he embodies all the greatest of Welsh values and has integrity, diplomacy and will lead by consensus. He’s a very, very good bloke.
“I am grateful to everyone who I have worked with during my time at chairman, including the directors on the board Glan, Philip and Tim whose focus, experience, and contribution are hugely important to us along with the support, vision and co-operation of Mark James, Chief Executive at Carmarthenshire County Council – our partner in Parc y Scarlets; and to Mike Carr who project managed the build of the stadium.
“I’d also like to pay tribute to former CEO Stuart Gallacher, for his strength and leadership in times of change as well to our new CEO Mark Davies who has been a fabulous acquisition and is a first-class individual making big strides in steering our forward business plan. Our rugby success and development past and present is in the hugely competent and skilled hands of both Nigel Davies and Gareth Jenkins. They, alongside all our supporters show continued loyalty, commitment and passion as Scarlets which has been so evident this season.”
Evans will continue as a director on the Scarlets Board alongside co-directors Granville Wise, Philip Davies and Tim Griffiths with current Chief Executive Mark Davies. Nigel Short said: “Huw’s commitment to the club over the past fourteen years has been nothing short of remarkable. His investment of time and resources has been extraordinary. He leaves us with one of the finest stadia in the country and on a rapidly improving financial footing.
“Huw’s energy, enthusiasm and passion for the club are boundless and the club would not exist in its current form without him. It was a humbling experience when he asked me to take on the Chairmanship as his are very big boots to fill and I thank him for his confidence. Huw will continue to be intimately involved with the club in supporting our development into the future. He was a Chairman of great stature and “a true Scarlet”.
“As the new Chairman of the Scarlets, I do not intend to over promise and under-deliver. The club has made good progress in the last few seasons but much remains to be done. I have been involved in a number of world-class Welsh organisations and am determined to restore the Scarlets to its rightful place at the top table of European Club Rugby and for it to have continue to command the respect and support it rightly deserves.
“We can be guilty in Wales of suffering from lack of confidence at times and I am taking this role in the firm belief that we have a very special organisation and place to work from. We have one of the most passionate support bases in World Rugby and an outstanding stadium and facilities, and I am looking forward to help support this business going forward.
“We are rapidly improving financial performance with a clear business plan that will deliver a solid financial foundation, a rarity in club rugby these days and on the field one of the best player development pathways in the country which is producing some of the greatest talent in Europe for good of Welsh rugby.”
The Scarlets are enjoying increased off the field successful at their home, Parc y Scarlets with a focus on driving a strong non-rugby events and venue business. Attendances are up 15% this season, with in excess of 1,000 more supporters attending Scarlets games on average this season and an increased season ticket holder membership.
Parc y Scarlets will host its first ever music festival headlined by The Saturdays later this month, Llanelli AFC v Manchester United on August 8th has hosted a number of major conferences including a CBI Wales and the NUT plus will host a three day BBC roadshow this summer. The stadium has served more than 15,000 non-match day covers in the past six months alone.