Uefa & Football Governance

Jaime Andreu-Romeo – Head of European Sport Unit, European Commission Leonardo Nascimento de Araujo – AC Milan and FIFA World Cup Champion ‘94 John Barton – T. E. A. M. Marketing Genevieve Berti – Communications Manager of G-14 Marco Brunelli – Lega Calcio and our tutor Richard Bunn – TV and Media consultant Michele Centenaro – Senior Product Manager, Club Competitions, UEFA Jerome Champagne – Deputy Secretary General, FIFA Jean-Paul de la Fuente – Founding Director, Deureka Peter Gillieron – General Secretary, Association Suisse de Football Michel Guenaire – Head of Sport-Law Division, Gide, Loyrette et Nouel, Paris Rodolfo Hecht – President, Media Partners Group Jonathan Hill – Communications and Public Affairs Liaison to the European Union, UEFA Gianni
Infantino – General Counsel Commercial Legal Services, UEFA Thomas Kurth – General Manager of G-14 Antonio Marchesi – Senior Partner, Deloitte and Touche Sports, Italy Lars-Christer Olsson – Director of Professional Football and Marketing, UEFA Denis Oswald – IOC member and President of FISA (International Rowing Federation) Alex Phillips- Senior Product Manager, Professional Football, UEFA Arnaud Rouger-

Conseil Juridique, LFP (Professional Football League – France) Freddy Rumo- President of Executive Board of Neuchatel Xamax FC and former UEFA Vice President Jefferson Slack- Director, Inter Active, FC Internazionale Milano Stefan Szymanski – Professor of Economics, The Business School, Imperial College London Alain Rumpf – Coordinator of the Professional Cycling Council, International Cycling Union (UCI) Additionally we would like to thank UEFA -Division of Services, especially Barbara Rodel, Division of Professional Football and Marketing, especially Marion Haap, Lucia Castelli at Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio, Ruth Beck-Perrenoud from the Olympic Museum for her help in research, our professors at DeMontfort University (Leicester, UK), SDA Bocconi (Milan, IT) Universite de Neuchatel, (Neuchatel, CH), the CIES and FIFA, sponsor of the International Master, especially Vincent Monnier. Finally we thank our families and friends for their patience, support and inspiration, especially during the last phase of this project. 5 PROLOGUE
The headlines of sport news sections have been filled with tension-riddled declarations from football club managers toward football’s organisers about too many matches, national team call-ups at key points in the season and concern over players victim of injuries during “useless international friendlies. ” The response is sometimes swift, sometimes harsh, but always illustrative of the conflicts between the members of the so-called football family. We recognise that all families have conflicts, some tragic, others trivial, but we were struck by the intensity of this banter internally sewing a frown to football’s countenance while still outwardly presenting a naive smile. We began to analyse the relationships and gradually realised that there were some family members with serious concerns who were not addressing each other.
We heard the uproar from major club figureheads when UEFA took the nth decision to change its prize event, the Champions League. We also felt the inescapable force of commercialised-globalisation when Brazilian international players flew half-way across the world to China for 90 minutes of football worth US$ 1 million. We shed a tear when Italian legend AC Fiorentina were dissolved and Angelo DiLivio, a FIFA World Cup finalist, voluntarily descended to the fourth and final professional division and set out to paint the second Florentine renaissance, this time named Florentia Viola. We love football and we have a great interest to see the beautiful game continue to flourish to the ends of the Earth.
Thus when we saw these unresolved dissonances spreading through the game, we made the decision to throw ourselves into the melee and clarify who the actors were, what their interests were and how they were relating to each other. After surveying the field we chose to focus on the clubs and UEFA, and then more specifically on the group of clubs creating the most commotion, the G-14. Their name seemed to pop up everywhere from the headlines, to the European Commission but never from UEFA. We found the door, brushed aside the coats and stepped into the magic wardrobe of UEFA, G-14 and European Football. . . 6 INTRODUCTION I. Aim The final aim of this project is to propose some adjustments to the current governance model of European football in order to address the conflicts arising from the pressures of the modern sport.
In order to do that we structured our research to answer the overriding question of “How do international sport governing bodies adapt and respond to the pressures of lobby groups? ”, looking specifically to the case of UEFA and G-14. With the overriding question in mind, we structured our project to answer the following questions: 1. What are the conflicting circumstances within the governance of European football that are bearing the rise of such lobby groups? 2. How efficiently are those conflicting circumstances being addressed by the pertinent actors? 3. What are the main risks to the sport that can arise from the process in which the conflicts are being managed, and how can those risks be mitigated? II. Paper Structure and Scope The tructure of this paper is sub-divided in five chapters: In the first chapter we present the field of play and provide some background information on the stage and scenario in which the main actions take place. We will demonstrate the current governance structure of European football, briefly touch on the peculiar dynamics of the football industry, present the major relevant stakeholders, their interests and inter-relationships and illustrate the complexity of the competition calendar of professional football in Europe. This information will be relevant for the complete understanding of the issues treated in the paper. The second chapter presents the major actors involved in the production of the spectacle of European football.
Although we recognize that the media and the major sponsors are important enablers in the distribution and popularisation of European football and its influence over the shaping of the game has been growing along the years, we have chosen to focus the scope of our analysis on the clubs (and with them, the G-14), the national associations, the leagues and UEFA, as we believe those are still the most influential actors in the design of football as a product. After presenting the major actors, in the third chapter we analyse the convergences and divergences of interests among them, the main areas of conflict and the potential risks that such conflicts can impose to the future of European football. We then take a break at chapter four and look outside European football in the search for examples of conflict management at similar sporting contexts. Our objective with chapter four is to learn some lessons that could be applied in the process of defining our final recommendations for the present case.
Finally, in chapter five we present a model with recommendations for adjustments to the current governance of European football, with the aim of minimizing the conflicts and tensions among the members of the Football Family. 7 Although UEFA has a broad range of activities touching on every discipline of association football in Europe, the scope of this paper is limited to elite professional men’s football, as this is currently the only form of the game that has achieved significant commercial potential. And it is not until significant flows of money begin to pour over a sport that the major conflicts among different stakeholders start to surface. III. Research Methods and constraints Our research was carried out during May and June 2003. It has been structured around a hypothesisdriven approach, a methodology commonly used by management consulting firms.
The approach consists in five major steps as shown in Figure I: Figure I – The hypothesis-driven approach 1 2 3 4 5 Overriding question Issue tree Hypotheses Research Analyses & Conclusions 1. Overriding question The Overriding question is the ultimate question the project aims to answer. As mentioned before, we have defined it as: “How do international sports governing bodies adapt and respond to the pressures of lobby groups? ” 2. Issue tree The second step consists in identifying the relevant issues that need to be addressed in order to answer the overriding question. The issue tree is a hierarchical structure of questions that will be answered during the project leading to the final answer to the overriding question.
For this paper we have defined three main issues and a set of 24 sub-issues in two different levels as shown in Figure II. 3. Hypotheses Once the issue tree has been defined we have generated the hypotheses for the project. The hypotheses are tentative answers to the issues based on the authors’ intuition and background knowledge on the subject. They may be proved right or they may be discharged after the research and the analyses are conducted. The importance of generating a sound set of hypotheses is that it provides the group with a comprehensive overview of the project’s main messages at its very beginning. 4. Research In this step we have designed the analyses that needed to be conducted to prove or discharge our hypotheses.
Based on that set of analyses, we defined the input data to be gathered and determined their potential sources. 8 Input data was collected through the following methods: • Preliminary interviews with representatives of UEFA and G-14 to validate the soundness of the initial list of hypotheses. • Interviews with representatives of sport governing bodies, football clubs, national associations, national leagues, governmental bodies, sports marketing companies, media companies, lawyers, economists, players and industry analysts to capture the different views on the subject and its potential developments. • Review of official documents provided by G-14 and UEFA, besides books and papers from academics on matters concerning the scope of our project. Search and review of websites of official governing bodies, clubs, and specialized sport press for relevant news and archive materials. • Final interviews with UEFA and G-14 to discuss and validate our preliminary findings. 5. Analyses and conclusions After finishing the process of data gathering we have conducted the analyses necessary to prove or discharge the hypotheses and have drawn our final conclusions. Research Constraints Although the hypothesis-driven approach adds focus and drive to the project, speeding up the problem solving process, this project was conducted along six weeks of full-time work and there is some limitation to what can be achieved in such a reduced time frame.
Notwithstanding, we have been fortunate by the fact that some of the major exponents in the European football industry were extremely collaborative and candid about the subject, allowing us to conduct twenty three high-level interviews across four different countries covering representatives of and experts on all main stakeholders involved in the subject. Precisely because of time constraints, we have not been able to directly interview executives from TV companies or sponsors, nor have we been able to conduct quantitative analyses on the opinion of fans as far as the issues touched by this paper are concerned. Our conclusions with regards to those groups of stakeholders are based on interviews with industry analysts and any available research material published on the subject.
With respect to research materials we have been able to obtain the majority of information needed to prove or discharge our set of hypotheses, perhaps with the exception of conclusive empirical data about the determinants of demand for sport. This would be particularly useful in allowing the design of more precise scenarios for the future of the game, and further research in this area might prove valuable. 9 Figure II – The original project issue tree (as designed in the first group meeting) Overriding question How do international sport governing bodies adapt and respond to the pressures of lobby groups? The case of UEFA and G14 Issue A What are the conflicts within the internal structure of European Football and why are they arising? A1 What are the interests of UEFA? A2 What are the general interests of the clubs? A3
How do those interests interplay? A4 What additional factors could be creating / amplifying conflicts? A1. 1 How does UEFA pursue those interests? A2. 1 How do top clubs pursue those interests? A3. 1 What are the areas of convergence? A1. 2 How do those interests represent the views of the member associations? A2. 2 How do other professional clubs pursue those interests? How do amateur clubs pursue those interests? A3. 2 What are the areas of divergence? A2. 3 Issue B How efficiently are those conflicts being managed? B1 How have past conflicts been managed? B2 What are other examples of conflict management in sports? B3 What lessons can we learn from those examples? Issue C
What risks can arise for the sport from the management of such conflicts and how can those risks be mitigated? C1 What if UEFA rigidly fixes its position against the Lobbying group? C2 What if UEFA adopts a reactive role towards the conflict? C3 How can UEFA adopt a proactive model to solve conflicts? C1. 1 What are the threats for UEFA coming from G-14? C3. 1 What are the most sensitive areas to be considered by this model? What are the key success factors for the model? C1. 2 What are the threats for G-14? C3. 2 C1. 3 What would be the consequences of those threats if carried out? C3. 3 How should the model be designed? 10 CHAPTER ONE: BACKGROUND 1. 1. 1. 1. 1. STRUCTURE OF EUROPEAN FOOTBALL GOVERNANCE AND FOOTBALL – THE PYRAMID STRUCTURE
The governance of association football resembles a pyramid where each layer takes on different responsibilities in different geographical scope. The formation of this pyramid has historical roots in the early stages of organized football in Britain and it has not been a uniform process. As Britain changed from an agrarian to an industrial society in the late 18 century, the games played in the open fields of the countryside were adapted to suit the narrow streets and hard surfaces of the new urban communities. The leisure time determined by sun, seasons, and feudal obligation was replaced by the much more restricted leisure hours decreed by the artificial light of the factories and the needs of the owners.
Improvements in roads and transportation allowed games to be played outside the local village, and as steam trains started to link the ever growing towns of Britain, it became possible to play on a national basis the games that the middle class favoured and promoted. This expanding scope involved agreement on rules and the formation of a national governing body. 1 th And that is where the pyramid begins to be formed. With the spread of the sport around the world, the pyramid started evolving from a local and national to an international scope and finally reached its current form as shown in Figure 1. 1: Figure 1. 1: The pyramidal structure of European football FIFA UEFA National Leagues National Associations REGIONAL ASSOCIATIONS CLUBS
The clubs The clubs are the basic cell and the foundation of the pyramid. Originally founded as local associations their initial objective was to offer the local community the possibility of engaging in the sport, thereby promoting the idea of “sport for all”. With the introduction of a regular competition, The FA Challenge 1 MURRAY Bill, The world’s game – a history of soccer, University of Illinois Press, 1998, p. 2 11 Cup in 1871, spectator crowds in England began to increase dramatically and in 1901 a crowd of 110,820 turned up to see Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United contest the final of the trophy . These crowds were increasingly giving birth to the popularisation of football as a spectator sport.
Today, the main objective of top professional football clubs has shifted from the offer of opportunities to engage in the practice of the sport, to the offer of the spectacle of the game and all the attached psychological, emotional and social benefits for the fan. But the clubs still remain the basis and the primary link of contact with the communities. Regional associations Regional associations form the next level; although this form of association is not present in all countries. Clubs are usually affiliated to these organisations. Their scope of action is limited to a region within a country in which they are responsible for organising regional championships or coordinating the sport.
National associations The first national association to come into scene was the English Football Association, or simply the FA as it is known today. It emerged from the London FA that became virtually the sole authority for the game in England after different regional associations in England came to a compromise agreement in 1877. By 1905 it had achieved the mark of 10. 000 local clubs affiliated to it. The success of the London FA in establishing its control over other regional associations came with the popularity of the Challenge Cup, instituted in 1871, a competition that is still played today. Also helping to secure the success of the dribbling game was the regular match with Scotland which began officially in 1872. 4 3 2
Today, national associations besides organizing club competitions and being responsible for the coordination of a national team to represent the country in international competitions are also the supreme regulatory and disciplinary body of the sport within the national boundaries, although, as we will see later, they have limited autonomy and have to abide by the rules of UEFA and FIFA. By doing this they are granted a monopolistic position in the national organization of the game, as FIFA as the ultimate body in the pyramid will only recognize one association per country. National Leagues Some countries such as France, Italy or England know another form of organisation with the introduction in the structure of national leagues. The origin of leagues dates back to the England of the end of the 19 century.
In 1885, after a series of complaints about athletes accepting money and the creation of committees to deal with them, followed by threats of serious punishments, the FA legalized professionalism. This meant that players had to be given a regular income. The Challenge Cup was still the main competition. Being a knock-out competition, even the best teams could be eliminated in an early round being left with nothing to do. The answer was the Football League. The league was 2 3 4 5 5 th : Ibid, p. 9 Ibid, p. 6 Ibid, p. 7 The elite club competitions are respectively organised in these countries by the ‘Ligue Nationale’, ‘Lega Calcio’ and the ‘Premier League’. 12 ade up of selected teams that agreed to play one another on set dates, on a home and away basis, and promised to field their strongest teams and to give league matches preference over all others. The individuals engaged in the discussions about the new league were essentially self-made men, small business owners and industrialists who came from a social category different from that of the men of the FA. With the FA watching anxiously, discussions were held by those in favour of the league. On 8 September 1888 the new football league kicked off competition with twelve teams. A constitution would be drawn up determining issues such as points scoring system, how to share the gate money, and later, a system of promotion from and relegation to a second division.
According to its founder and guiding spirit, the Scottish-born Birmingham businessman William McGregor, the aim of the league was to protect the interests of the clubs taking part in its competition. He openly declared that “the league should never aspire to be a legislating body… by the very nature of things the League must be a selfish body. ” The English Football League conceded the right of the FA to control football in all areas but the organisation of league competition. This meant that the FA was left to control the Challenge Cup, internationals, amateur football and certain matters concerning the rewards and disciplining of the professionals. 6
Today, the relationship between national leagues and national associations throughout Europe is very similar to the one verified in England in the late 19 th century. While the national association is responsible for the control and development of all aspects and disciplines of football within the national boundaries, the league’s main interest is the commercial development of its major product, a league competition. Although there are tensions from time to time, the two bodies co-habit in relative peace given their share of common interests on the game. UEFA The next level of the pyramid is formed by the continental confederations, or more specifically in the case of Europe, UEFA – The Union of European Football Associations. As the name suggests, UEFA is formed by 52 national associations .
It is the governing body of football on the continent of Europe and has as its core mission to safeguard the development of European football at every level of the game and to promote the principles of unity and solidarity, as we will detail later. Along the same lines of the national associations UEFA enjoys a monopolistic position on the organisation of the game in Europe, guaranteed by the pyramid structure. It is relevant to notice that unlike the reality at the national level, where a league takes from the national association the responsibility of organizing and commercially developing an elite competition among clubs, the figure of the league does not exist at the continental level. The task of organizing and commercialising European club competition falls into UEFA’s direct jurisdiction.
FIFA FIFA, is the supreme authority of football in the world. Its creation, in 1904, precedes that of the continental confederations, and thus, its membership structure is also formed by national associations. 7 6 7 MURRAY Bill, The world’s game – a history of soccer, University of Illinois Press, 1998, p. 11 See a complete list of UEFA’s member associations at appendix a. 13 Technically, the continental confederations, like UEFA, are not members of FIFA, but are recognized bodies and have the right to elect the vice presidents and members of FIFA’s Executive Committee. FIFA’s purpose is to promote and develop the game of football throughout the world, and to be the uardian of the regulations of the game. Unlike national associations, national leagues and continental confederations, FIFA currently does not organise club football competitions, although it regulates over matters that impact club football reality, such as transfer systems, and the coordinated international calendar. FIFA’s activities as far as competition organisation is concerned are currently limited to international competitions among national teams. FIFA is responsible for holding the whole pyramid together. The ownership of the FIFA World Cup, the most important single sporting event in the world, and a large and universal membership base are its main sources of power.
By making use of regulations such as the need for a national association to be a member of a continental federation for two years before being granted membership to FIFA , and by obliging continental confederations to comply with and enforce compliance with the FIFA statutes, regulations and decisions, and to ensure that international leagues or any other such combination of clubs or leagues shall not be formed without its consent and approval of FIFA , or by prohibiting affiliated national associations and their clubs to play matches or entertain other sports contacts with associations which are not affiliated to FIFA or with clubs belonging to them without FIFA’s consent , it guarantees that the layers and the monopoly of the pyramid in the organisation of football are respected. 1. 1. 2. THE EUROPEAN FOOTBALL INDUSTRY 11 10 9 8
Definition of the Football Industry Many people resent the use of the term ‘business’ to describe the activities performed by the main actors in the European football scenario. However, it is undeniable that European football has undergone an accentuated process of commercialisation, especially in the last fifteen years, which has brought significant amounts of money into the game. Instead of engaging in an emotional and semantic discussion to determine if football is a game, if it is a business or if it is as much a business as it is a game, we will define as football business the group of commercial activities performed by the actors in the football industry, and we will define as football industry the group of legal entities whose commercial activities are rooted in the game of football.
However, such a definition of the football industry is a very broad one and for the purpose of this paper it needs to be narrowed down as proposed in Figure 1. 2. 8 9 10 11 FIFA has currently 204 member associations (one per country), which represents a larger membership base than the UN. FIFA Statutes, art 4, par. 1 FIFA Statutes, art. 9, par. 3 FIFA Statutes, art. 57, par. 1 14 Figure 1. 2 – The structure of the football industry12 Sports Industry Football Other Sports Sporting goods Facility dependent sports services Sport consultation services Spectacle sport Hybrid Sport Participant Sport Club Football National team Football Participant services Spectator services Sponsorship services Media services
Licence services Scope of this paper Outside the scope of this paper The product-based typology proposed in Figure 1. 2 divides the sport industry into three main segments: Sporting goods, Facility dependent sports services and Sport consultation services. • Sporting goods: companies producing apparel, shoes, equipment, team and/or league merchandise, ‘sport’ licensed products. Examples of companies in this segment include Nike, Adidas and Reebok. • Sport consultation services: companies supplying advice in areas such as management, medical, design, building and maintenance, programming, among others. Examples include IMG, Octagon, and InFront. Facility dependent sports services: organisations offering sport as their end product be it as spectacle (matches, competitions) or as access to participation. This segment, like the others, can be further subdivided in three categories: spectacle, participant and hybrid sport. – Spectacle sport: the most prominent feature of organisations in this category is the ability to generate substantial revenues directly or indirectly from spectators. Here, athletes are usually professionals. Examples of organisations in this category are Manchester United, Juventus and the English Premier League. 12 Adapted from WESTERBEEK & SMITH, Sport Business in the Global Marketplace, Palgrave, 2003, p. 87 15 Participant sport: this is the category of entities providing opportunities for people to engage in sporting activities, usually on a non-professional basis, like gyms, community sports centres and amateur sport clubs. – Hybrid sport: in this category, sports organisations offer a mix of spectacle and participant sport. As Westerbeek and Smith 13 point out, governing bodies are likely to be hybrid sport organisations as they are charged with developing a mass participation base for the sport with the ambition of securing its longevity, while encouraging and promoting the few outstanding athletes that can perform in elite spectacle sport, providing the sport with the exposure so essential to its popularity, while developing the basis for spectacle sports’ revenue streams.
Once the segmentation is understood, we can then define the European Football Industry in this paper as the group of legal entities acting in the facility dependent sports services, specifically within the boundaries of the spectacle and hybrid sport category in the territory covered by the fifty two member associations of UEFA. It is important to remark that this industry is built on two main pillars, club football and national team football, that ultimately have to “share” part of the same resources: top-level players, spectatorship, calendar time, among others. Dimension and Growth of the European Football Industry There is no reliable data about the size of the European Football Industry as defined above.
Deloitte & Touche estimates that, in the season 2000/2001, it should be close to national team football in Europe is in the range of 90-10% respectively. 15 10 billion. 14 A possible breakdown of this number is shown in Figure 1. 3. We reckon that the split between club football and Another important consideration is the fact that domestic football (in top and lower divisions) is by far the most important segment of the industry. As we can see from Figure 1. 3, the lion’s share of the industry is represented by top-division club football in the domestic leagues, amounting to 6. 6bn, thereof the so-called ‘big-five’ leagues (England, Italy, Spain, Germany and France) dominate 78%.
Put in perspective, those numbers are not very impressive, as the entire European Football Industry would not even feature in the ranking Fortune Global 500 16 in 2002. What is impressive though, is the consistent fast pace with which this industry has been growing over the past 10 years. The top-division clubs at the ‘big-five’ leagues all grew at similar rates from the mid-1990s to 2001 – between 18% to 24% per annum, 17 while UEFA’s consolidated revenues grew at an impressive rate of 29% per annum 18 during the nine-year period comprised between the seasons 1992/1993 and 2001/2002 mainly 13 14 15 WESTERBEEK & SMITH, Sport Business in the Global Marketplace, Palgrave, 2003 Deloitte & Touche Annual Review of Football Finance – June 2002 – p. 16 A priori, by looking at Figure 1. , this proportion might sound counter-intuitive but we must not forget that a share of UEFA’s and the European federations’ revenues is based on club football. The Fortune Global 500 ranks the 500 largest companies in the world based on their global revenues. In the 2002 ranking, Wal Mart appears as number 1 with global revenues around US$220 billion, while Takenaka, a Japanese company in the construction business ranks 500 with global revenues slightly above US$10bn. DELOITTE & TOUCHE Annual Review of Football Finance 2001/2000 – p. 4 UEFA’s consolidated revenues including amounts paid beforehand – UEFA CEO Annual Report 2002 p. 33 16 17 18 16 riven by the growth of the UEFA Champions League as we will show later. And although these growth rates are recently giving sign of slowing the pace, we believe it is more a matter of an internal adjustment of the industry than the apocalyptical actualisation of the burst of a bubble as many analysts like to put it. Most of the economic fundaments supporting the growth of the European Football Industry are solid, as notwithstanding the latest downsizing in the value of broadcast rights paid for some properties and the breakdown of companies like ISL and KirchMedia, we do not see signs of an actual decrease in the demand for European Football.
Much on the contrary, as we have seen that the TV audience for the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League grew by 9% in relation to the previous year, meaning that the competition produced an average live audience of 46 million viewers per match-week in the larger markets. 19 Figure 1. 3 – Estimated market size of the European Football Industry 2000/2001 billion 1. 3 1. 2 6. 6 ‘Big-5’ Leagues 10. 0 0. 7 0. 2 10 year average 24% 17% 14% 13% 10% 78% England Italy Spain Germany France growth > 20% p. a. Top division domestic club football1 Lower division domestic club football3 UEFA Club Competitions2 Annualized EURO Cup2 Sources: 1) Deloitte & Touche, 2) UEFA , 3) Authors’ estimates
Revenues of National Associations, Leagues, UEFA, others3 Total1 It is important to notice though, that if the industry has experienced significant growth in revenues in the last decade, profitability has not kept pace. This is mainly because of the rise in the spending on players in a phenomenon known as the ‘prune juice’ effect, which refers to the tendency for revenues generated by football clubs to simply pass through the clubs’ accounts on the way to players’ pockets. Just to illustrate that point, as already mentioned, the consolidated revenues of the top-division clubs in the ‘big-five’ leagues grew at an annual rate between 18% and 24% between the seasons 1995/96 and 2000/01.
In the same period the ratio wages/revenues went from 47% to 60% in England, and from 57% to 75% in Italy, just to mention two of the major markets. profitability 21 20 The result is a plunge in the 23 of the industry in the major markets 22 with the most accentuated cases being Italy going from –1% to –19% in six seasons and Spain going from –7% to –28% in four seasons. 19 20 21 22 23 UEFA’s champion audience, Sportbusiness. com, June 3 2003 Analysis of the authors based on the Deloitte and Touche Review of Football Finances – 2002 Measured as Operating Profits / Revenues The exception is Germany that managed to keep its profitability between 8% and 10% during the period There are no available date for Spanish top-division clubs in the seasons 1999/00 and 2000/01 17
Business Model of the Football Industry The current business model of the European Football Industry relies on four main revenue streams: 1. Match day revenues – Expenditure of fans on-site, mainly derived from gate receipts (including season tickets). 2. Media rights – Value paid by media companies to acquire the rights of broadcasting a specific sport property. 3. Sponsorship – Mainly derived from brand/name placing on team shirts and around stadia. 4. Other commercial revenues – Mainly revenues from licensed merchandise, but also includes conference and catering services. Figure 1. 4 gives an overview on the proportions of these revenue streams for a sample of domestic leagues. Figure 1. – Breakdown of top-division clubs revenue streams – 2000/01 16% 31% 18% 16% 42% 34% 40% 25% 54% 39% 51% 45% 51% 20% 18% 20% 12% 4% 41% 43% 13% 30% 17% 9% 15% 22% 14% 18% 15% 12% 13% England Italy Spain (97/98) Key: Germany France Portugal Netherlands Norway Matchday Broadcast Sponsorship (includes all commercial revenues for England) Other commercial Source: Deloitte & Touche As we can see from the graph above, TV is in general the single largest contributor to clubs’ revenues in the ‘big-five’ leagues. According to Deloitte & Touche in the season 2000/01, TV responded for 2. 4 billion, or 46% of the 5. 2 billion total revenues of the top-division clubs in the ‘big-five’ leagues.
However, this proportion will vary significantly according to the size of the TV market in which the club is located. There is a clear difference between the relevance of TV monies for the top-division clubs in the ‘big-five’ leagues and the top-division clubs in other mid-size or small leagues like Portugal, Netherlands and Norway, as shown in the graph. The Fan: The Heart of the Football Industry Although the importance of television and sponsors is clear in the current business model of the European Football Industry, which might lead us to conclude that those are the most important actors in this industry, the dynamics of the industry rely ultimately on the interest of spectators. Figure 1. shows a simplified map of value relationships between actors in this industry. 18 Figure 1. 5 – Summarized Value Chain of the Football Industry Simplified Simplified 2 Leagues Sponsors ? Clubs B C 1 3 ? Television A Football Fans Population Note: For the sake of simplification this map does not consider some important stakeholders in the Football Industry such as governing bodies and federations, players, clubs’ shareholders, national teams, among others The cornerstone of value for the Football Industry is relationship – between fans and the clubs. In this relationship the clubs supply the fans with the game and all the emotional, social and psychological benefits attached to it.
The fans, in turn, provide the club with financial resources in the form of gate receipts, season tickets or membership fees and purchase of licensed merchandise besides the emotional association, support, loyalty, exposure, among other non-tangible benefits. Relationship illustrates the fact that clubs need the league structure to create the on-field competition environment required by fans. And the quality of the competition, measured in the quality of teams taking part in that competition and in the level of competitive balance, is one of the most important drivers of demand for football. This relationship between clubs and leagues 24 is one of the ell-known peculiarities of the Football Industry. In any other industry the ideal objective of the players would be to achieve a monopolistic position driving competitors out of business, whereas in the Football Industry this is not only impossible, but also not desirable, since clubs need to cooperate for the joint-production of the game. However, there are inherent conflicts between teams since the league structure also determines a team’s individual share of industry profits. Relationship reflects the fact that part of the football fans are not necessarily attached to one specific club but have overall interest in a particular competition.
The marketing strategy of the UEFA Champions League has the benefit of strengthening this link eventually intending to increase the share of the population interested for European football regardless of a particular team allegiance. In the left side of the map we have television companies. Traditionally, revenues of free-to-air television companies are based on advertisement from sponsors. In order to attract sponsors, 24 Leagues or whatever entity responsible for organising a football competition 19 television companies must be able to attract audience, and this is done by offering content. That is represented by relationship A. Television companies offer content to the public in the quest for an audience.
By getting an audience, television companies become attractive to sponsors. That is shown in relationship C. Sponsors will pay to use television as a channel to advertise their products and services to their target markets among the audience. Pay-TV companies have an incremental revenue stream. In addition to advertisement from sponsors they rely on subscription fees from consumers interested in having access to exclusive content. In both cases though, it is clear that audience is key. In markets where the interest for a particular sport captures a large share of the population, which is the case of football in the ‘big-five’ leagues, the link represented in relationships 25
TV companies and sponsors realise the importance of and wish to exploit it. That is represented by and relationships ? and ?. In relationship ? , TV companies pay to acquire the right (if possible exclusive) to broadcast individual matches or competitions in the hope to attract an audience. In relationship ? sponsors pay to associate themselves with teams or leagues both as a way to get visibility to sports fans and as a way to associate their brand with the sporting brand they are sponsoring, thus exploring the goodwill present in the link between the fan and the sport. Their ultimate goal is to get the population to consume their products and services.
In all cases it is simple to understand that the ultimate source of value for the Football Industry is the interest of the fan for the sport. The fan is the TV viewer, the pay-TV subscriber, the stadium spectator, and potentially the end consumer of the sponsors’ products and services. The larger the fan base and the larger its identification with the sport, the higher the probability that this sport will attract the interest of TV and sponsors. Of course, the potential value of the Football Industry in a particular region will depend also on the size of the TV and the advertisement markets in that region, which in the end bear relation with the demographics of the region. Thus the focal point of he Football Industry is the football fan, 26 and that is the reason why it is crucial for clubs, leagues and governing bodies to understand what drives spectator interest for European football, in other words, what are the drivers of demand for football. Demand for Football Spectatorship Stefan Szymanski summarizes the most important factors driving fan interest for football in three classic elements: 27 Quality of the game Uncertainty of outcome (of the match and of the competition) Success of the fan’s own team 25 26 England, Italy, Spain, Germany and France There are several studies intending to qualify the football fan according to different levels of commitment and interest.
For the sake of this paper we qualify as football fan any person interested in the game regardless of the level of commitment. Interview with Stefan SZYMANSKI, Professor of Economics, Imperial College London 27 20 The quality of the game would touch on aspects such as the entertainment and spectacle, the aesthetic pleasure of watching the game, the quality of the visiting team. The uncertainty of outcome has two major aspects: uncertainty of outcome of the match and the uncertainty of outcome of a competition. About the uncertainty of match outcome, the review of the literature shows that generally, the closer the result of the match is expected to be, the more attractive the game will be to fans.
Along the same lines fans would be less enthusiastic about a game in which the result is seen as a foregone conclusion. Furthermore this uncertainty must be preserved at all costs, as the integrity of the game is completely connected to the integrity of the result. 28 The uncertainty of outcome of the competition is measured in terms of competitive balance. There is general agreement that match attendance will be influenced by the closeness of the championship race. As more teams have a chance of reaching the finals or play-offs, fans will expect a close contest and anticipate high quality play. This anticipation will be reflected in a higher level of fan enjoyment and consumer utility and a boost to crowd size. 29
Success of the fan’s own team implies that supporters achieve satisfaction from identifying with a winning team. Arguably, a team that consistently loses will have difficulty attracting large crowds. active supporter bases than their domestic peers. But if a winning season contributes to the increase of the commitment of the supporter base of a specific club and if the fan base, as argued before, is the principal source of goodwill for a club, it seems obvious to state that clubs, as individual entities, will seek to maximize their winning ratios as a way to increase the supporter base. This practice, if successful, will eventually conflict with the element of uncertainty of outcome.
The challenge for clubs and organisers of competitions is to understand the optimal combination between those three elements (quality of the game, uncertainty of outcome and success of own team) in the determination of demand for football as they frequently can conflict among themselves. Conclusion In summary, as much as we want to avoid the discussion of football being a business or a game, we must recognise that the dynamics of the football industry present some specific characteristics that make us conclude that football cannot be taken as just a regular business. These special characteristics fall mainly in three inter-related areas: 1. Football clubs are cultural and community assets with associated sporting and community objectives.
There is a long and unfinished academic debate arguing that football clubs are utility 30 That could help to explain why clubs like Manchester United or Real Madrid have larger and more 28 In that sense potential contractual clauses like the one suggested by the press in the Beckham transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid, in which the acquiring club will pay a bonus to the ceding club based on the former’s future performances at championships at which both teams compete could allow for the public’s perception of match fixing between the two clubs in a specific scenario, which could eventually hurt long-term demand for the game. WESTERBEEK & SMITH, Sport Business in the Global Marketplace, Palgrave, 2003, p. 64 29 30
Although formation of fan basis is a more complex phenomenon and depends on many other factors apart from a team’s winning record at a given time. 21 maximisers pursuing non-pecuniary objectives rather than maximisation of economic value as any other business. Sloan 31 argues that while in US professional team sports, many teams have an established track record of profitability, in the case of European football teams, profit making clubs have been very much the exception and not the rule. He goes further explaining that chairmen and directors with a controlling interest in football clubs are usually individuals who have achieved success in business in other fields.
Their motives for investing may include a desire for power or prestige, or simple sporting enthusiasm: a wish to see the local club succeed on the field of play. In many cases profit of the club seems unlikely to be the major motivating factor. As one of our experts interviewed puts it: ‘Clubs are too much under the control of local business owners or major individuals in the community looking for personal gain. When these people take the reigns of a club usually they end up satisfying themselves. Many of them have come to my office and said: – For me, investing in a club is just like having a PR campaign. Rather than giving money to an advertising agency, I buy a club and since the press talks a lot about me, it has an equivalent effect. ’ . The relationship between the supporter and the club can be very different to a standard customercompany relationship. Lomax 32 explains that most supporters choose their clubs at a young age and then stick to this choice however irrational it may seem at face value. Football supporters are key stakeholders contributing to the club not just by being loyal customers but also by actively adding to the match day spectacle, and often committing financially to keep their club afloat as it was the case with the English supporters of Northampton FC that contributed with money in a fundraising campaign to alleviate the club’s financial distress. 3.
As already mentioned, the Football Industry depends on both competition and co-operation among clubs. Football then redistributes income from leading to lagging clubs (and leagues) in order to promote competitive balance. This redistribution of income would not be allowed in most traditional industries. The combination of those three factors makes the dynamics of the football industry special in relation to most of the other regular forms of businesses. 1. 1. 3. STAKEHOLDERS’ M AP After analysing the governance structure and the dynamics of the European Football Industry, it makes sense to map its stakeholders in a more comprehensive way. Figure 1. 6 depicts those stakeholders: 31
SLOANE Peter, The economics of professional football: The football club as a utility maximiser, Scottish Journal of Political Economy pp. 121-145, June 1971 32 LOMAX Brian, Democracy and Fandom: Developing a supporters’ trust at Northampton Town FC, in: GARLAND John, MALCOLM Dominic and ROWE Michael (Ed),The Future of Football – Challenges for the 21st century, Frank Cass, 2000 22 Figure 1. 6 – Stakeholders Map of the European Football Industry Non Non Exhaustive Exhaustive Fans / Spectators Club Patrons Clubs UEFA Stock Market G-14 European Union Players National Leagues National Associations FIFA European Football Industry Media Sponsors Press Once the stakeholders are identified we will make use of table 1. to map their interests, analyse their bargaining power, identify the main groups over which they exercise their power and qualify the types of pressures suffered by each group. Some of the points covered in this section are introductory and will be explained in more details later, but we think it is important to bear in mind the relationships described below, as they will be helpful to understand the nature of the conflicts treated in this paper. Table 1. 1 – General overview of stakeholders interests, power and pressures Stakeholder Main Interests • Identification • Entertainment Power Focal point of the industry but not sufficiently organised (H/M)* Vulnerability Not sufficiently organised • Too emotionally attached to the game, will accept poor treatment • Internal conflict between individual and cooperative objectives Pressure exerted Pressure received Fans / Spectators • Spectacle • Psychological satisfaction • Social Integration Immediate pressure for sport performance over clubs Community Fans (H/M) Press (H) Players (H) Pressure on Governing Bodies and leagues over a number of issues related to the regulation of the game (Revenue sharing, competition format, supply of players to national teams, calendar) Patrons (H) UEFA (H) G-14 (H/M) Media (H/M) FIFA (H) Sponsors (H) Leagues (H) Stock Market (H) Nat. Assoc. (H) Increase demand for football Clubs • On pitch performance limited by budget constraints Basic cell of the industry, controls the most valuable assets for the production of the game (H)* • Short-term view • Little control over main cost items • Not a homogeneous and organized group • Lacks direct representation at higher decision making level *High (H), Medium (M), Low (L) 23 Table 1. 1 – General overview of stakeholders interests, power and pressures – continued Stakeholder Main Interests • Develop the following of the game in Europe Power* Vulnerability Pressure exerted Pressure received* G-14 (H) Other clubs (M) FIFA (H) UEFA • Keep tight control of the game in Europe • Promote solidarity • Promote port for all • Develop other disciplines of the game • Develop the following of the game universally Detains the natural monopoly in the organisation of the game in Europe, holds the key for eligibility of players and clubs at competitions (H) • Relies too much on elite club competition to fund its activities Pressure on clubs and players to comply with the regulations and principles EU (H) Press (H) Fans (L) Media (M) Sponsors (L) Players (M) Leagues (L) FIFA • Keep a strong control of the game • Promote solidarity • Develop other disciplines of the game • Content – to get audience from the fans Is the supreme body of world football (H) • Relies too much on one single national team event to fund its activities
Pressure on national associations, confederations, clubs to comply with the rules and regulations of the game EU (H) Media (M) Sponsors (L) Confederations (M) Media • Has an interest in the game as long as it generates audience. Will switch to other content options as soon as it does not • Content – to get readership from the fans Is the single major investor in the game. Without TV money Football collapses (H) • Limited bargaining power over the price of top events • Limited concern about the long term issues of the game • Subject to competition law Pressure on leagues and UEFA for changes in the format in the quest for immediate rise in audience
Fans (H) EU (H) Internal competition (H) Sponsors (H) Press Extremely influential over fans (H) Has the control over the national game, is represented with decision power at UEFA and FIFA, owns the national teams – a major source of passion (H/M) Usually controls the central marketing of domestic competitions (M) In the top level, due to the limited supply of talent and due to identification of fans (H). In the lower level due to the high replaceability (L) • Credibility It is the ‘Big Brother’ watching the steps of Clubs, National Associations, Leagues and Players Fans (H) Other types of media (H) National Leagues (H) Players (H) National Associations Aligned with FIFA and UEFA at the domestic level Being confined to national borders may suffer from globalisation tendencies Pressure on the clubs, and on the leagues G-14 (H) Clubs (M) Fans (M) Media (H) Press (H) National leagues • Organise club competition at the domestic level • Commercial optimisation of domestic competition Being confined to national borders may suffer from globalisation tendencies Pressure on the clubs for cooperation over the quest for individual objectives, pressure on national associations Clubs (H) Media (H) Fans (L) • Self realisation Players • Financial security • Status • In general not too organised • Incredibly risky and specific career – short
Clubs (H/M) Pressure on the clubs for better labour conditions Fans (H) Press (H) Nat. Assoc. (H/M) Leagues (M) *High (H), Medium (M), Low (L) 24 Table 1. 1 – General overview of stakeholders interests, power and pressures – continued Stakeholder Main Interests • Guarantee fair trade in the industry • Help Federations to implement professional management • Keep the balance among football and other industries • Increase representation of top clubs in the decision making process of professional club football at international level • Advise clubs on current financial challenges Power Vulnerability Pressure exerted Pressure received EU Can change the structure in which the professional level of the game is managed (H)
Most of the time acts like an observer, not taking action until an actor complains • Do not represent all top clubs • Not officially recognised by UEFA • Cannot impede UEFA or FIFA to directly deal with individual member clubs • Threatening behaviour • Relegation / Promotion system • Eligibility for international competitions Pressure on the governing bodies on anti-competitive practices Industry sectors (H) Member states (H) G-14 (The Lobby Group) Represents the major top clubs in Europe (H) Pressure on UEFA, FIFA, national associations, other clubs and the EU Fans (L), UEFA (H), Member clubs (L) Stock Market • Maximisation of shareholder value
Important source of funds for some clubs, but not very representative in the industry as a whole (M/L) • Too dependant on the highs and lows of sporting performance • Subject to regulations made by people who may not be profit seekers • Limited sensitivity to the long term peculiarities of the game • Limited control over the sponsorship agreement Pressure on the listed clubs for diversification of revenues and for financial returns Regulatory bodies (H) Fans (L) • Visibility to fans Sponsors • Association with the goodwill of clubs and competitions One of the major sources of revenue in the Industry(H) • Reduced bargaining power over the price of top events • Internal competition in the sponsorship industry
Pressure on competition organisers, clubs and players Shareholders (H) Other sponsors (H) Club Patrons • Prestige • Value transfer to other businesses Owner and benefactor of the club (H) Too much emotionally involved with the club Over players for pitch performance Fans (M), Players (H), Community (H) *High (H), Medium (M), Low (L) 25 1. 1. 4. PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL COMPETITION CALENDAR The pyramid structure of football governance, along with the international nature of the game impose additional challenges to the organisation of competition in Europe. All layers of the pyramid rely mainly on the organisation and participation at competitions to generate the funds for their activities.
Be it FIFA with its quadrennial World Cup or biennial Confederations’ Cup , UEFA with the Euro or the UEFA Champions League, the National Associations with the participation in the international competitions for national teams organised by FIFA and UEFA or with the organisation of the domestic cups, the national leagues with the organisation of the domestic league, or the clubs participating in domestic and international competitions, all actors depend ultimately on competition to subsist. The complexity in the organisation of the competition calendar comes from the fact that the actors have to share the same restricted resources: players and time.
National team competitions, to be able to exploit their full commercial potential, have to count on the presence of top players, often the same players that are fighting for top teams in club competitions. International club competitions, along the same lines, hope to count with the participation of the most popular clubs, the same ones participating in domestic competitions. All of this constrained by the fact that there are only 52 weeks in the year, and there is a physical limitation to the number of matches a player can play in a given period of time. Thus it is not an easy task to find the right combination of supply among the different types of competitions: the one that will maximise the utility for the football fan. Figure 1. shows the configuration of the football calendar for the season 2002/2003, displaying the major competitions currently being played at the elite level of football in Europe. Figure 1. 7 – European Competition Calendar – Elite Professional Football – Season 2002/2003 2002 June July August September October November December 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 Week Domestic League1) Domestic Cup6) UEFA Champions League2) UEFA Cup2) UEFA Intertoto Cup Super Cup / Intercontinental FIFA World Cup7) Euro (qualification) International Friendlies3) 4) Na tio n Te al am Cl u b Week 4) Domestic League1) Domestic Cup6) UEFA Champions League2) UEFA Cup2) UEFA Intertoto Cup Super Cup / Intercontinental FIFA World Cup7) Euro (qualification) International Friendlies3) 003 Season 02/03 January February March April May J Total 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 Matchdates 38 10 23 15 10 2 9 8 4 Na tio n Te al am Notes: Cl ub 1) Based on the English Premier League 2) Including qualifying rounds 3) According to FIFA Coordinated International Calendar 4) Week 22 starts on Monday May 26th and finishes on Sunday June 1st 5) Weekend matches include Monday and Friday for the Domestic League 6) Based on the FA Cup – Starting at the 3rd round when Premier League clubs join the cup 7) Maximum of 7 matches per national team Key: Weekend matches5) Mid-week matches Source: Analysis of the authors based on data from Rec. Sport.
Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF), UEFA and FIFA 26 Figure 1. 7 shows that the majority of the annual football activity is based on domestic club football, including a domestic league and a domestic cup. Although the graph is based on the Premier League and the FA Cup, the activity in other countries follow a similar pattern. There is usually a domestic league being played from August to May mainly during the weekends with a number of match dates varying slightly depending on the number of participants at the top division of the league (usually between 18 and 20 in the major markets), and there is a domestic cup usually being played during the mid weeks over around 10 rounds. he UEFA Intertoto Cup. UEFA Champions League Eligibility for the UEFA Champions League depends on the technical performance of clubs at their domestic leagues, and on the ranking of national associations prepared by UEFA. As an example, the champions and the runners-up at the English Premier League automatically secure a berth among the 32 participants at the UEFA Champions League, while the third and fourth places will play at a qualifying stage. The same is valid for Spain and Italy. But countries ranked lower by UEFA receive a reduced number of berths for the competitions with some countries receiving only a place at the qualifying phases.
The competition is preceded by three qualifying phases played by 56 clubs entering in different stages. From the qualifying phases 16 clubs eventually gain access to the competition. Those clubs join the other 16 that secured an automatic berth, totalling 32 clubs. Currently, the 32 clubs play a first group stage (eight groups of four teams) with the two top teams in each group qualifying for a second group stage (four groups of four teams). The group stages are followed by a knock out stage (quarter finals and semi finals) with home and away matches followed by a one leg final match at a predetermined venue. For the season 2003/04 UEFA has decided to eliminate the second group stage, meaning that the sixteen clubs ualifying from the first group stage (eight groups of four teams) will enter directly into the knock out stage (eighth finals, quarter finals, semi finals, and the final). This will reduce the maximum number of matches per club from 17 to 13. UEFA Cup Eligibility for the UEFA Cup is open to teams finishing in leading positions behind the champions in the domestic top divisions, besides the winners of the national cup competition, the winners of the league cup competition in certain countries, the three winners of the final matches at the UEFA Intertoto Cup and three clubs from UEFA’s annual fair play assessment. The UEFA Cup is a knock-out competition played home and away (except for the final match which is played in a one leg match) and is preceded by a qualifying stage.
At the third round, the eight teams falling in third place at the first group stage of the UEFA Champions League, also join the UEFA Cup. Figure 1. 8 Illustrates the format of the UEFA Cup, which is currently being revised by UEFA. 34 33 In the international scenario, there are three main club competitions currently being organised by UEFA, The UEFA Champions League, The UEFA Cup and 33 The domestic cup usually counts on the participation of clubs from many professional divisions, but the top clubs will join the cup at an advanced stage. Not considering the qualifying rounds 34 27 Figure 1. 8 – Format of the UEFA Cup # of Clubs 82 41 + 52 96 48 24 + 3 From Intertoto Qualifying Stage First Round Second Round + 8 From UCL 32 16 8 4 2 Champion Third Round Eighth Finals

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