Edgbaston chief laughs off speculation over Commonwealth Games role

Neil Snowball

The chief executive of Warwickshire County Cricket Club has laughed off suggestions he could be the man to helm Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games campaign.

Neil Snowball has been a key figure in the background as the city prepared its bid to be host city for the 2022 Games.

The city should find out later in the autumn if it has been successful in its bid.

Appointed last year to succeed Colin Povey, Mr Snowball has a wealth of experience organising some of the most high-profile sporting events held in the UK in recent years.

Highly placed sources within the West Midlands Combined Authority have said privately that he is their preferred choice to lead the city’s management team should it land the Games.

It is easy to see why they should think that.

Prior to landing the top job at Edgbaston, Mr Snowball was Chief Operating Officer of England Rugby 2015 Ltd, which was the Organising Committee for the Rugby World Cup 2015.

In that role he was responsible for all aspects of tournament delivery including match venues, host cities, team services, security, transport and technology as well as managing multiple stakeholder partnerships.

Prior to that, he was Head of Sport Operations at the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) where he was responsible for service delivery and operational management for the 26 Olympic and 20 Paralympic sports, and 45 competition venues.

He also understands the business case for these big events because prior to joining LOCOG he served as an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs, for whom he worked for eight years.

It has also been a busy summer for him at the cricket club, having overseen Edgbaston’s staging of both the ICC Champions Trophy and England’s inaugural day-night test match.

However, when asked about the Commonwealth Games role he is charmingly evasive.

“I have enjoyed serving on the bid company for the Commonwealth Games and I am hopeful – as is everyone connected with the city – that Birmingham secures the right to stage the event in 2022,” he said.

“I remain ready to assist in any way I can but there is plenty to do here at Edgbaston, where we are busy preparing our own submission to the ECB (English Cricket Board) for the 2020-24 major match programme.”

Edgbaston will not be one of the venues used for the Commonwealth Games as cricket will not feature in the tournament – despite many hoping that a version of the 20-over game could be one of the sports to feature in the programme.

It would also be difficult for the ground to be used as the Games is likely to fall in the middle of the cricket season – and possibly the new English Premier League, the city-based 20-over franchise competition similar to the IPL in India and Australia’s Big Bash, which is set to be launched in 2020.

Away from the Games, it has been a mixed year at Edgbaston.

Mr Snowball said he was delighted with the way the venue had staged the big events such as the Champions Trophy and the unique test match against the West Indies.

Another successful T20 Finals Day was also a highlight.

“It’s certainly been an interesting year; never a dull moment,” he said.

“We were delighted with the public’s response to both the Champions Trophy and the day-night test match and both met their objectives.”

Domestically it was a mixed season for Warwickshire, losing to Nottinghamshire in the T20 final but being relegated from Division One of the county championship after finishing bottom of the table with just a single win.

“There’s plenty for Ashley (Giles – director of cricket) and Jim (Troughton – head coach) to think about but I’m sure we’ll bounce back next year,” he added.