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How football club management has changed due to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has created several difficulties that football clubs must deal with in order to continue to operate during this time.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created several difficulties that football clubs must deal with in order to continue to operate during this time.

The many complexities of a football club make it difficult enough to manage in normal circumstances.

Smaller or lower division clubs will be aiming to survive the pandemic while the bigger clubs will be looking for ways to continue to prosper.

In April, Football Federation Australia (FFA) CEO James Johnson was unable to guarantee the survival of all A-League clubs.

“Do I think that all the clubs will make it through? I think that’s too early to say at the moment,” he said.

While the A-League season did go ahead making it more likely that all clubs will survive, the pandemic and a reduced broadcasting deal present a significant financial problem for clubs.

Football League chairman Rick Parry made similar statements in June regarding League One and Two clubs who are unsure of playing without crowds due to the decreased revenue.

“The aim is to make sure all the clubs survive, and we will be working 24 hours a day to make sure they do,” he said.

“We can’t give guarantees. Who knows whether we have seen the end of this crisis or whether there is going to be a second spike. But our aim, our avowed aim, and we will be giving it our very best shot, is to make sure the EFL comes through this stronger than we are at the moment.”

With no end date to the pandemic in sight, there are several areas in which football clubs will have to change or adapt to going forward.

Sponsorship

The football industry is not the only industry feeling the impacts of COVID-19. Current and potential sponsors for football clubs are likely to be facing financial hardship too.

Southampton are reportedly set to lose club sponsor LD Sports. The deal with LD Sports is worth £7.5million a year.

Managing Director of League Two team Oldham Athletic Natalie Atkinson told fcbusiness that the football club’s commercial income will now be completely different.

“We have to be more creative about what our matchday sponsorship looks like, our LED, our short and shirt and stadium sponsorship looks like because if we play behind closed doors they’re not going to get that fan exposure,” she said.

Although it is not all bad news for football clubs, last week Leeds United signed its largest ever commercial deal with sports betting company SBOTOP.

Fan Engagement

The main way that fans support their football team is by attendance at matches. With it being either not possible or only going ahead in limited numbers, clubs have to find other ways to engage with their supporters.

Manchester United has been providing fans with activity worksheets and video challenges via the club’s website.

TV and Broadcast Deals

COVID-19 has also created problems for football leagues. Due to lockdowns and games being unable to be played, revenue from broadcasting deals has been cut.

In America the MLS took the approach of playing a tournament titled ‘MLS is Back’ before its regular season restarts.

These extra games will be a way of making back some of that lost revenue money.

The MLS also took the opportunity of not having fans to instead install extra cameras and a big screen to display extra visuals and statistics to TV viewers.

“How we can look at really leaning into audio and all of the sounds that we wouldn’t get the benefit of hearing because of the crowd,” ESPN VP of production Amy Rosenfeld said.

“Our approach has been taking the negative of not having fans, which is such an intrinsic part of soccer, but then creating an authentic, immersive experience for the audience as if they were there and really giving them access to dialogue that we would never get access to.”

While COVID-19 has had many negative consequences, football can and does need to make the most of its opportunities to continue to remain strong after the pandemic.

Daniel Foley is a sports junior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and micro industry matters.

Tigres secures deal for new 65,000 seat stadium

Mexican soccer giants Tigres UANL have secured a deal to see a brand new 65,000 seat stadium ready by 2025.

Mexican soccer giants Tigres UANL have secured a deal to see a brand new 65,000 seat stadium ready by 2025.

The stadium will be based in the heart of San Nicolás de los Garza, Nuevo León, and will be replacing the old 42,000 seat stadium, known as Estadio Universitario, The previous stadia has been the home of Tigres since 1967.

The new stadium was presented on Thursday, January 13 at a meeting that included Governor of Nuevo León and Samuel García, through a Memorandum of Understanding to commence construction.

Tigres’ future home was designed by architecture firm Populous and envisioned to be entirely privately financed at a cost of $445 million AUD.

The stadium’s features will include a retractable pitch, as well as being able to host concerts and international sporting events like American football games.

As part of the overall plans, the stadium will include separate changing rooms for Tigres’ men’s and women’s teams, while the exterior stadia complex will complement with a hotel, shopping centre and restaurants. The venue is also intended to act as an incubator for local business, and will also have classrooms catering for the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL).

Juego de Pelota principle partner, César Esparza:

“There is going to be another setting for concerts and sport,” he said.

“It is a stadium prepared to host all sports, this stadium will be the postcard of Nuevo León.

“Stadium events will not be expensive for fans, as long as it has that capacity it will allow us to create different price levels for events, becoming inclusive for all people.”

UANL Tigres parent company member, Mauricio Doehner:

“Today Tigres is internationally recognised and we are always striving for more,” he said.

“Of course we deserve a new stadium, it will be the headquarters in this new era. Today, Tigres is not only a benchmark in Mexican soccer, but also on an International stadium. The Estadio Universitario has given greatness to Club Tigres and all the fans, we will honour it forever.”

Economic returns predicted for biennial FIFA World Cup

biennial FIFA World Cup

Two independent studies have suggested that FIFA’s economic situation would be dramatically improved if both men’s and women’s FIFA World Cups switch to a biennial format.

The findings, from Nielsen and OpenEconomics, were presented in front of 207 of a possible 210 of FIFA’s member associations (MAs). The presentation took place at the FIFA Global Summit and was staged as the ‘latest step in the future of football’.

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino:

“We have been advised by independent experts that a switch to a biennial FIFA World Cup would provide a combined additional USD 4.4 billion in revenue from the first four-year cycle, with these funds being distributed across our 211 member associations,” he said.

“This additional revenue would allow solidarity funding to move from the current level of USD 6 million per cycle to up to potentially USD 25 million on average per FIFA member association in the first four-year cycle, with the actual distribution being subject to FIFA’s governance principles.”

Based on the findings, the following economic boosts would occur:

  • A USD 3.5 billion (4.9 billion AUD) solidarity fund would be established with revenues to be distributed to all MAs, to inject an average of up to USD 16 million (22 million AUD) to every MA, while also retaining a capacity to mitigate against any financial shortfalls suffered by any MA due to the international match calendar changes.
  • FIFA’s Forward distribution for every MA would increase by 50% to USD 9 million (12 million AUD) per cycle.

  • The overall uplift for world football would be in the region of USD 6.6 billion (9.1 billion AUD) in the first four-year cycle.
  • A biennial cycle for the men’s World Cup would produce a gross domestic product (GDP) gain of more than USD 180 billion (249 billion AUD) over a 16-year period, while generating two million full-time jobs.

FIFA Chief of Global Football Development, Arsene Wenger:

“FIFA’s commitment to the future of football remains resolute, as we want to give every talent a chance, and to create the right environment to deliver on that promise through our competitions,” he said.

“We want to reorganise the international match calendar, especially to promote and improve football, while respecting all stakeholders – and that begins with the players themselves, by introducing a mandatory rest period.”

As part of his plan, national-team fixtures would be grouped together under a new international match calendar, leading to less travel for the players.

FIFA is planning for more consultations with confederations and MA’s early this year, with the opportunity to explore the idea in further depth.

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