Veteran sports broadcaster writes exclusively for that someone has to go from the leadership of Team NZ - Grant Dalton, not Dean Barker.

Dean Barker says he has had a gutsful of Team New Zealand. He is not on his own. I think the whole country has. We are sick and tired of the childish antics, the leaking of information when it suits, the unavailability to comment when it doesn't.

Most of all, we are fed up with the backstabbing and the public statements which defy common sense.

Grant Dalton's pretence that he doesn't know who leaked the story to Tony Veitch that Barker was for the chop was an insult to the public. Veitch would never have run the story if its source hadn't been Dalton himself or someone close to him.

Dalton must realise that his use-by date has been and gone. I believe he has made three fundamental errors that mean many sailors and certainly a large number of sports journalists have lost respect for him.


Dalton should never have called a lay-day during the last America's Cup. It should not have been his call. It should have been the sole right of Dean Barker to make that call, as skipper. Barker didn't even know that Dalton had made the call. Dalton made the call for commercial reasons ... some of the key sponsors hadn't arrived in San Francisco and he wanted them to see the final victory. This decision, on its own, is so bad it should have led to his resignation.

Second, Dalton should never have been on the boat as a grinder. Russell Coutts pointed out the folly of this to Dalton in a public debate before the event began.

Winston Macfarlane was recognised as a much better grinder, being stronger, younger and more focused.

Third, Dalton lost his focus and some of his behaviour off the water in San Francisco, meaning he lost the respect of his team.

If Team New Zealand is to survive it will do so only if Dalton resigns. He has had his day and it is unbelievable that there is no one on the board of Team New Zealand prepared to tell him so.

At his peak Dalton was a tenacious, feisty leader able to raise money where others couldn't, but even that ability must now be in doubt, given his credibility has gone.

Who wants to put money into an organisation that was so badly structured that at its key moment in recent history it had a board of only one member? Who wants to put money into an organisation that loses an event when it leads 8-1 and requires only one more victory?

In the history of modern sport this has to be the greatest choke of all time. Yet we have not been given any adequate explanation. We are of course entitled to one, because we have a $36 million stake in it.


If this was a private syndicate, we would have no right to know anything. However, this is a team that revels in the title Team New Zealand, that raises money because it uses the name of our country and that thrives on our support, our patriotism. That comes at a cost. We need to know the facts and we need to know why the next challenge will lead to a success, not another failure.

It is apparent that the Government, John Key and Steven Joyce particularly, have not realised the depth of feeling against Team New Zealand. If the Government funds Team New Zealand under its present leadership and structure, it will pay for it at the polling booths. I could not bring myself to vote for any party supporting the current bunch.

Does Team New Zealand have a future? Unquestionably. But that future must be without the baggage of the past.

There is no question Barker's days with Team New Zealand are over. Yet no self-respecting man would tolerate the way he has been treated.

I believe Dalton is past it and before his reputation is completely tarnished, he should resign.

Clearly the board needs new direction and strength. This can only happen with a clean-out there as well.

There should be no doubt an the minds of anyone involved in TNZ that the rank and file of New Zealand sports fans now view you as a dysfunctional, unstructured group that has hopefully had its last hand-out from the Government.

How it all went wrong

Dean Barker admitted there were tensions in the team over Grant Dalton's on-board role for Team NZ. Photo / NZME.
Dean Barker admitted there were tensions in the team over Grant Dalton's on-board role for Team NZ. Photo / NZME.

September 2013 - Team NZ suffer a heartbreaking 9-8 defeat to Oracle. It is thought at this point Grant Dalton will not continue with the syndicate - having indicated he would step down as managing director if Team NZ did not bring home the America's Cup. Barker begins putting plans in place to take over the running of the syndicate. His "team" includes top businessman and former board member Ralph Norris.

October 2013 - The team return to a heroes' welcome in Auckland. Dalton is buoyed by public sentiment and reconsiders his decision to step down. The Government agrees to chip in $5 million to help keep Team NZ afloat while they await details of the next event.

January 2014 - The syndicate gets the year off to a promising start, announcing it has signed top young sailors and Olympic silver medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. Dalton confirms he is staying with Team NZ as the team's chief executive, with Barker appointed as sailing director following an "extensive review" into the team's failings in San Francisco.

February 2014 - In an interview with the Paul Henry show, Barker admits there were tensions in the team over Dalton's on-board role, and reveals he was not consulted on the crucial decision to agree to a lay-day when Team NZ held a 7-1 lead over Oracle Team USA. Questions over the team's governance structure are also raised. Dalton is said to be furious with Barker over the public admissions, believing the move was a deliberate attempt to undermine his position.

April 2014 - Former director Gary Paykel puts a new five-member board in place, with Keith Turner as chairman. While details of the management and operating model are worked through, Dalton remains CEO, reporting to the board.

June 2014 - Defenders Oracle release the Protocol for the 35th America's Cup - more than two months after it was expected - but are unable to confirm crucial details of timing and venue.

June 2014 - Team NZ hold a press conference to address the team's concerns with the protocol, in particular the difficulty in securing sponsors without knowing where and when the Cup would be held. Dalton claims without further Government funding the team will be "gone by the end of the month". This prompts a backlash from the public, especially when the Weekend Herald reveals Dalton was paid about $2 million a year during the last campaign.

July 2014 - After the Government rejects Team NZ's pleas for further taxpayer money, the team's individual donors chip in to keep the syndicate afloat.

August 2014 - Team NZ officially lodge their challenge for the 2017 America's Cup.

December 2014 - America's Cup officials finally announce Bermuda will host the 35th cup match. It is unwelcome news for Team NZ, with both commercial sponsors and the Government cold on the idea of Bermuda due to the limited opportunities to leverage their brand. Team NZ are forced to slash $20 million from their budget.

January 2015 - The team undergoes a restructure and review of its operational model to try to cut costs. Barker begins discussions as to what his future role will be.

Last week - Newstalk ZB reports Barker is set to be replaced at the helm of Team NZ by Burling. Barker only learns of Team NZ's intentions to push forward with plans to replace him through media reports. At that point he still considers he is in good faith negotiations with the board. Team NZ issue a statement describing the reports as "inaccurate".

This week - Team NZ confirm Barker has been replaced as both skipper and sailing director. They state their desire to retain Barker as a performance manager and in a coaching role. Barker tells media he has no interest taking up a coaching role. He issues a grievance letter with Team NZ, claiming proper process was not followed in the restructure.

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