Guy Wolfenden will spend the next three months taking stock of everything at Exeter City before proposing any change, after being unveiled as the club’s new chief executive.
The 40-year-old has extensive experience in sport having worked as commercial manager and head of sales and marketing at Somerset Cricket Club. He then left the County Ground for Warwickshire, taking up the role of ‘head of commercial’ at Edgbaston.
But now, Wolfenden, who hails from Taunton and attended Wellington School, is about to embark on a new challenge at St James’ Park, with former chief executive Julian Tagg relinquishing the role to focus on football matters.
“I am really looking forward to it. I think it’s a great club and I have spent a few days down here and, the people I have met, I have been impressed with,” Wolfenden said.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think it was a great opportunity and I am looking forward to getting to know everybody and getting to understand the processes and seeing if we need to change it, is there a reason to and, if we are, then what does it look like and how do we put the plan in place to make that as effective as we can?”
Wolfenden added: “I think there are a lot of challenges, but my intention is very much to get an understanding of the club and an understanding on what it ticks, why it ticks and how it ticks and, after that, I want to have a knowledge of what I want to put in place.
“I am not going to make any decisions or predictions of where we are going to go, I think it is very much a case of getting an understanding of where we are and then look to move it forward after that.”
One area Wolfenden will be looking at closely is the ground development at St James’ Park, which has stalled in recent years. The Stagecoach Stand has a very limited shelf life, while the St James’ Road End, which accommodates visiting supporters, also needs drastic improvement.
“I am conscious of the position, although I don’t know the fine details at the moment,” Wolfenden said. “But I am looking forward to getting stuck into that.
“It is something that can clearly be of big benefit to the club and I think, as long as we do it in the right way at the right time, then it should deliver some real positives.
“I think that everyone would state that there are areas of the ground that could do with some help, but to deliver the finances in order to do that is putting the jigsaw together.”
Tagg welcomed Wolfenden’s arrival at St James’ Park, which will ease the work load on his shoulders, in particular, after he took on the role two years ago.
Some sections of supporters have questioned the need for a chief executive, and how it will be financed. Chairman Edward Chorlton stressed that the money has always been in place since former CEO Norrie Stewart left the club in January 2011, while Tagg has defended Wolfenden’s appointment.
“It’s like the cavalry arriving for me to have someone coming in to help out in an area of expertise,” he said. “It is not my area of expertise and I have known Guy for his experience and reputation, and I am very much looking forward to being able to progress on lots of different fronts.
“While I have been able to keep the plates in the air and I am pleased with what has been achieved by the staff, who have done a fantastic job, it was identified by the board three or four years ago, when Norrie [Stewart] was here, that this is what was needed.
“We have certainly been challenged in the way we do our customer service and that is an area that Guy has expertise in. Guy also has vast experience in another sport and we wonder of there is a cross-fertilisation between what’s been done successfully elsewhere and football, which is sometimes a little insular.
“Sometimes, someone with a view from outside that has not been in it and the conventional wisdom that goes with it can look at it with a clean view, and that is what we want him to do, rather than going with what we have maybe done before.”