Evan Seaman spoke to Ilkley's Paul Wintersgill about his business and how he plans to have a positive impact on the commercial side of the club in the future.
So, you were the Managing Director of Wintersgill
Associates from 2005-19. Could you tell us about your time at the accounting
I was always interested in business hence training as a
chartered accountant. When it came to starting my own business, accountancy was
my strength, so I played to that. I understood what was wrong with our industry
at the time, so I simply flipped it and applied the opposite to my firm. We
were approachable, spoke the client’s language, charged for value not hours
spent (we didn’t even keep timesheets!) but above all else we tried to help
clients achieve their vision and not just bean-count and save tax. Nothing was
too much trouble.
What was your greatest achievement while working there?
And what were the challenges that came with being a Managing Director?
Building the business was the challenge. From a standing
start in my spare room with no clients and no income to a practice that
employed over 10 people, serviced over 100 clients and wasn’t reliant upon me
was the result. The whole thing was the greatest achievement.
You founded the 2020 Vocation Alliance in April this
year, what was your thinking behind it?
In a climate where employment is hard to come by, instead we
help people work for themselves and do what they love. Starting a business is
not easy however, especially the first time! There are so many people that have
thought about it but taken it no further due to the many hurdles it presents.
My new business essentially removes these hurdles by partnering with the
individual and bringing the benefits of knowledge, experience, and clout to the
According to your ethos it was set up to help the
unemployed, those who do not feel like they have secure jobs and those that are
unfilled by what they do for a living. Has this always been your aim to help
the more vulnerable people in society?
Honestly, not always no. As time has passed though I have
come to see things differently. What resonates with me nowadays can be summed
up with Zig Ziglar’s profound words “You will get all you want from life, if
you help enough other people get what they want”.
You joined Ilkley Town AFC in November 2017, what made
you decide to become involved with the football club?
I had sponsored the ball when the club were fundraising for
the 4G pitch. We then talked about ongoing sponsorship and supporting the club
for me was a no brainer! I love football, I played for Ilkley in my early
twenties, I am keen to help people and I like to support the local community. I
am the kind of person that fully commits to something so sponsorship wasn’t
As your role as Commercial Director at Ilkley Town, how
different is it to working at Wintersgill Associates?
My goal is to help the club become a commercially successful
entity and, in that regard, it is the same. What is different is the number of
people, whether it be committee members (I was the entire committee at
Wintersgill Associates!), volunteers, coaches, players and supporters and in
that regard, there are so many more people involved. It presents a greater
challenge but equally our achievements will have a positive impact on a much
What kind of an impact do you think the commercial side will
have on the team’s performances on the pitch?
The two complement each other. Simon and Sam have done a fantastic
job with the senior squads and their achievements attract a larger audience; be
that supporters or commercial opportunities. As a not for profit organisation
we invest the fruits of our labour back into the team and moreso the facilities
making the attraction of playing at and being involved with Ilkley Town AFC all
the greater. Success breads success, on and off the field.
Have you managed to settle into your new job well? And have
you met the whole squad yet, and if so, what is the camaraderie like?
I have settled in very well. Everyone at the club is
welcoming, helpful and share the same passion to drive the club forward. The
squad is the same which is testament to how Simon selects his players based on
attitude over raw ability.
Are you excited about your future with the club? And what
do you plan to achieve with us in the 20/21 season?
I could not be more excited! There are so many positive
ideas in the early stages of implementation, even as we speak. The club is on
the verge of something quite magnificent… mark these words!
Plans for next season include progressing our wellbeing
ethos, facilities improvements and developing income streams for the club
through sponsorship, the “Shop Local Today” initiative and links with the
community including corporate membership.
I am also championing “Walk-On” which is a community walk to
the football from town aimed at getting people active with the benefits being
both physical and mental well-being. Again, watch this space…!