HOW TO MANAGE A FOOTBALL CLUB PROFITABLY IN THE 21ST CENTURY: Two Business Skills You Should Learn Now!



FC Barcelona is an existing proof that winning trophies and more trophies doesn’t necessarily mean being the best football club in the world. At least from a business point of view, the best club is one that delivers increasing profits to it’s shareholders. And I think club managers should begin to view football more from the business angle. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not in any way trying to down play it, a club actually need to win trophies to expand it’s market share – to keep attracting more fans and sponsors that will deliver more revenue to them. But if the club’s expenses in prosecuting a tournament or a league season becomes more than it’s revenue, then the club has a major problem of going bankrupt.

It’s more challenging managing a football club in the 21st century. For one, the cost of human resources is going astronomically high. For instance, a club like Real Madrid signed Cristiano Ronaldo for 80 million Euro, Kaka 50 million Euro, and Jose Mourinho 50 million Euro, while their Shirt-Sponsorship is just 23 million Euro annually. It takes a person with high level of managerial skills to get such club to make profits after the huge expenses.

It’s true that some club may not target profit on the short run – Abramovic, the owner of Chelsea FC, is more interested in winning major trophies like UEFA Champion’s league, English Premier League, World Club Championship… Well, he can afford to bankroll Chelsea from his personal reserves, but no matter how rich he is, he may not continue to run Chelsea like a not-for-profit organization for too long. Today, he may employ a management staff based on their skill to play effectively at the boardroom. Managers that have strong negotiation skills and can lobby through the football association to get things done for Chelsea.



Being able to play the boardroom game is an essential skill every club manager should have, In fact, to win a major tournament, you need such men who can play the boardroom game at FIFA level and the football association (FA) level. The stakes are usually high with sponsor’s demands as well as other interest parties trying to mastermind who wins the trophy. A club’s management staff should be well connected to be able to manage most pre-match and post-match issues. Again, this area requires a lot of invisible expenditures.

However, no matter what you do as a club manager, you must understand that your club’s bottom line is what matters, so you must pay close attention to the club’s expense and revenue structure. There are two essential skills you require in order to be successful as a modern football club manager. They are sport financing and sport marketing skills.

Sport Financial Management Skills: The club manager must ensure that he has enough finance to perform his task successfully, in both present and future. Adequate funds must be sourced and made available for the day-to-day running of the club – pay bills, purchase additional facilities, compensate both players and other employees of the club… Today club manager must be grounded in sport financing matters – planning, obtaining and managing club’s funds in order to accomplish its objectives effectively and efficiently. Club managers should understand that they are responsible for both meeting expenses and increasing profits of shareholders.

Sport Marketing Management Skills: Club manager must also ensure that the club is attracting increasing revenue at a reasonable cost, enough to make  expected  profits. A football club success in the 21st century is directly tied to the club’s ability to create a satisfying relationship with fans, media, sponsors and advertisers. Club managers require an in-depth sport marketing management skills to stay ahead. For instance, it’s no longer possible for a club management to sit on the armchair hoping that fans will attend the club’s games. It’ll never happen. You need to aggressively reach out to fans and others spectators and persuade them to attend the club’s games.

I recommend that all club managers should continually upgrade their sport financing and sport marketing skills so, they can be able to meet the need of the ever changing  football market.
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