A new members’ club has opened its doors in Berkeley Square. We catch up with Ian Stafford, chairman of the London Sporting Club, to find out more.
So, Ian, tell us about your new London club. Who is it aimed at?
The club is aimed at those who play or played sport at a high level and the movers and shakers in the business of sport, which has become a wide-ranging area, from brands to sponsors, investors, financiers, administration, board rooms, governing bodies, lawyers, insurers, high end media, marketers and press relations. We aim to be at the heartbeat of all things sporting.
Where will it be based? What do you like about the venue?
The London Sporting Club is a wholly independent invite-only, private members’ club that lodges within Morton’s in Berkeley Square. The location is perfect, right in the heart of Mayfair, and the Grade II listed Georgian town house has four separate floors providing different amenities for different requirements.
What highlights have you got planned for 2017?
Some of the biggest names in British sport will be lunch guests during the year. We have already had an excellent event with England rugby coach Eddie Jones and Olympic rower Sir Steve Redgrave, complete with his five Olympic gold medals, was also a big hit in May. We had a great time hearing from Formula One driver turned commentator David Coulthard in the week before the British Grand Prix in July and many more big names are being lined up.
We will also be staging many networking events – at least monthly – because our main aim is to create the most significant sports networking entity anywhere, and all able to meet at a beautiful Mayfair venue.
You mention that Eddie Jones was your guest at your first sporting lunch. How did it go and what did you learn?
The lunch was a great success. The full house had individual photos taken with England’s head coach which were printed and framed and collected at the end of the event. I also interviewed Eddie and it was scintillating stuff. He talked about the ups and downs of his own career and revealed how his high standards have transformed England into the best team in the northern hemisphere.
The biggest aspect we learnt was how Eddie takes no prisoners and no nonsense. If you don’t give 100% you are out until you start producing at the level he demands. It’s all about mindset. Several other sporting stars were interviewed, including rugby’s Neil Back, swimming’s Mark Foster, Crista Cullen (hockey), Gail Emms (badminton), Andrew Triggs Hodge (rowing), Derek Redmond (athletics), David Smith (paralympics) and Alan Brazil (football/talksSPORT).
And, finally, as the former rugby correspondent of The Mail on Sunday, how do you rate England’s chances for the 2019 World Cup?
Pretty good. They have a fantastic coach who is a serial winner and England will only get better. By 2019 they will have the perfect scenario of players in their mid to late 20s with 60+ caps each to their name. They are already the second best team in the world.
New Zealand remain the stumbling block and England must find a way to be at least as good as them by Japan in two years’ time. The other factor is that there are other teams capable of beating England in a one-off game, as Ireland proved in March but, for 2019, England will be strong contenders.