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England’s roaring World Cup journey: a case study for succession planning

12 Jul 2018

Despite the result of England’s semi-final clash with Croatia, no one can deny the fantastic journey to the semi-finals which England underwent in this World Cup. The young squad sent to Russia have instilled in a nation a renewed love of international football, and restored pride in the three lions on the crest of the England shirt.

So where did it all go right?

Aside from some excellent football played by the team, a lot has been written about the waistcoat wearing maestro, Gareth Southgate. The way he has brought the team together and instilled an unwavering confidence in them is something which has been missing in England squads of recent years. Described as having an almost family feel to the squad, Southgate has been able to manage the players, the media and, to an extent, the fans throughout the tournament.

However, arguably this is no accident. Introduced into the England football set up in 2011, Southgate joined the FA as head of elite development. In 2013 he was then appointed head coach of the England Under 21 side, which he took to two Under 21 Euro finals.

His appointment as England manager in November 2016, some would say, was a natural progression and arguably part of a wider succession plan within English football.

Having an opportunity to work with a number of the current England squad at Under 21 level will have also helped to develop the cohesion which has been evident in the side during this World Cup.

So what lessons can be learnt from a memorable 2018 World Cup?

For business owners, it is a great example of planning for the future and having the right people, in the right roles, at the right times. This is especially the case for family owned businesses, where the introduction of the next generation into the business can be a crucial thing, both in terms of timing and responsibility.

Consideration should therefore be given to developing the next generation to take on management roles and providing them with the relevant skills, experience and incentives to succeed. The first two matters of skills and experience will be specific to the type of business, whilst the latter of incentives can depend on the business structure. For example, in a traditional partnership consideration should be given to bringing the next generation into the partnership and, if so, whether it is as an employee, salaried partner, fixed interest partner or equity partner. For companies, consideration should be given to shareholdings for the next generation, and if so, their entitlement to dividends, voting rights and cross-option agreements.

Richard Marshall

In the context of the England football team, thought should also be given to the age of the next generation. Youth is not always a negative character trait, however, the age at which the next generation will get involved with the business will be specific to the circumstances of the business itself, and the individuals.

At the other end of the spectrum, succession planning needs to be considered by the generation currently in control of the business. Exit strategies and planning for passing on the business is best done with time to implement whatever plan is needed. Be it, for example, ownership periods of 2 years for Business Property Relief to apply for Inheritance Tax purposes, 12 months for Entrepreneurs Relief to apply for Capital Gains Tax purposes, or just utilising tax reliefs from one financial year to the next. Timing can be everything, and as the old adage goes, ‘if you fail to prepare then prepare to fail.’

It is also important to ensure that any business succession planning dovetails with personal succession planning, and that Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Shareholders Agreements, Cross-Option Agreements and Partnerships Agreements (to name just a few) are all in place and up to date in case the worst should happen and someone within the business should pass away or lose mental capacity before the best laid plans come to fruition.

So whilst England’s journey in the World Cup may have come to an end for another 4 years, a lot of positives can be taken from their performances, in more ways than one.

At Hay & Kilner, our full service legal offering allows clients from all sectors to work with our experts across a range of specialisms, from corporate and commercial matters to Wills and estate planning, to ensure both personal and business interest are taken care of.

For more information on any of the above or, how we can help your business, please contact Richard Marshall, or call 0191 232 8345.