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Norwich City FC – The Canaries continue to fly off the field

Norwich City currently sit at the bottom of the English Premier League table after winning only three games this season. Whilst their team hasn’t particularly impressed on the park in the world’s most popular league, a change in ideas off-the park well over a year ago is being associated with their rise back to the top division of English Football.

Adopting a shared leadership management structure, three people were left in charge of making decisions at the top table. Chief Operating Officer Ben Kensell believes this type of approach has encouraged innovation throughout the club when it came to dealing with the industry, the fans, the community and its staff.

“There is Stuart Webber, who deals with the footballing side, myself handling the non-football sides of the business, such as all commercial areas, finance, operations and Zoe Ward who is very much the glue in between the two areas driving behaviours and culture on both sites whilst managing support services such as Legal, HR and our fantastic community work,” he told FC Business.

“We are all experts in our fields but we communicate and run the business as a three and as a collective and that means you can be across everything and we can focus key objectives across all areas to really drive results and what’s best for the club as a whole.”

Owners Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones are adamant the club must look after itself financially, which brings about an element of self-pride according to Kensell.

“We are immensely proud to be a self-financed club, as are our fans,” he claimed.

“Delia & Michael lead by example and they are brilliant owners of this great club, we do it our way and we want to be the best we can be in everything we do. Being self-financed certainly sharpens your focus. We know how much responsibility we have to get it right and that means we take responsibility for every bit of the detail because your margins for error are very small. Our attention to detail for each other’s business needs comes from the knowledge we have little wiggle room and we have to get things right. Across all areas of the club we look for continuous improvement and from top down we are all hungry and committed to be the best we can be for Norwich City and its fans.”

But the structure seems to be providing the club with several commercial benefits, aside from the clear achievement of reaching the English Premier League.

“Our commercial revenue in partnerships has doubled. Our club-controlled income of £33 million plus has grown and we have seen good growth in retail and memberships after overhauling previous structures and we are sold out home and away for the majority of our games thanks to the phenomenal support of the fans. We are maximising every opportunity we have to work in an innovative way with partners and its certainly paying off.

“We have made a seven-figure investment in our new training facility and secured a lucrative long-term sponsorship with Lotus cars taking the naming rights of the training centre and academy. That’s on top of money that the Norwich City fans themselves have invested through the Canary bond, which we facilitated.

“We have improved fan experiences around the ground and in the city centre with our new Fan Hub. And in all that time we have worked to make sure Stuart [Webber] and Daniel [Farke] have the budget they need and the player development structure they desire to take this club forward on the pitch.”

Whilst various changes have been made it is still extremely important to communicate efficiently with fans, to get them back onside. This was a core focus for Ben, Zoe and Stuart once the executive committee was created at Norwich.

“We have firm short, medium and long-term plans in place whatever happens on the pitch. We are in a financially sound position but just as important is that our fans and everyone in our community understand the decisions we are making and buy into it.

“That’s why we work hard on our fan engagement and broader communication. We try to involve the fans through clear and concise communication in every stage of our thinking about the future of this club, we want them to feel very much part of the plan and proud of doing it the Norwich City way. Sometimes people are not going to like what we plan to do, but we make sure they understand our reasons for that.”

Ben adds: “You rarely hear a Norwich fan call for us to get the cheque book out to make a big-money signing. That’s because they have bought into our sustainable plan of being self-financed. They know through previous experiences that breaking the bank can lead to tough times for the club they love and equally, they know from what we tell them we are not willing to play that lottery again, either. We are investing in the stadium and training ground because then we will have something to show for the monies the Premier League brings but we know it’s a balance in everything we do as we want to remain competitive.

“They also know we are spending money on the club infrastructure, whether that be improvements at Carrow Road or on fan engagement zones – it is clear what we are doing.”

As the Premier League does attract a global audience, Norwich have profited through deals with the Tampa Bay tourism board and Philippines-based Dafabet. However, the club promises to stick to their roots and do things the Norwich way.

“We have to build our commercial expansion plans carefully to ensure we stay true to our club values and ways of doing things. We are making a name for ourselves by doing things differently, we are growing and have impressive numbers to show from a club-controlled income perspective compared to our peer group clubs, but we can, and will, continue to grow whilst never losing sight of our doing it our way.”

A new Canaries Fan Hub in the centre of the city has recently opened, with fellow English Premier League sides interested in the development. Kensell is extremely satisfied with the progress of it so far as it promotes the club’s identity further, as well as being commercially rewarding.

“It’s been a massive success and a real game changer for us; you can purchase everything there from retail to tickets to special events. It’s a true one stop shop but more importantly is that it has loads of fans and kids just coming in and playing on our penalty shoot-out simulator or going on the iPads or taking part in some of the cool experiences within the Hub.

“People come in to just watch the exclusive content whether it be interviews, highlights of the game, training across our giant screen or playing on the PlayStations. We have seen turnover rocket since it was launched in August and I am delighted with the performance of it in every aspect.”

With room for growth and plans to expand Carrow Road on the agenda, Norwich City FC are in a good place to continue to thrive.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

How Raven Controls are evolving event safety management standards

Raven Controls

Developed by resilience experts, Raven Controls is a digital management system which provides powerful real-time situational awareness that aims to ensure reassurance for all stakeholders and venue management involved in an event.

Event safety management standards have undoubtedly shifted overtime due in no small part to the changing nature of how live events are attended and consumed. Football has no doubt seen a major change in the behaviour of fans over the past few decades with specific standards of compliance needing to be adhered to, especially at multinational tournaments such as the World Cup and EUROS.

The reality of event safety management standards is that often improvements are driven in response to major disasters such as the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985 and the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. Both of these were massive catalysts for changing safety management standards and influenced global recognition of the need to make improvements.

The approach from then on was dominated by a European approach which aimed at preventing and managing violence – as was dictated by the European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events. 2016 saw The Council of Europe Convention on Integral Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football introduced to add to the work that has been done since the adoption of the European Convention on Spectator Violence in 1985. The new convention advocated for cooperation between all public and private stakeholders involved in making events welcoming, safe and secure.

In a contemporary sporting landscape, Raven Controls is well positioned to suit the modern demands of event safety and security management and also meet the challenges created by the integrated approach being demanded by the new European Convention.

Raven Controls’ method of digital information logging (which is based on integrated emergency management principles) precisely highlights information flow and supports real-time notification alerts and subsequent escalation processes. Moreover, in terms of accountable decision-making, Raven Controls assures that policy decisions are recorded in real-time highlighting the justification and rationale for critical decisions.

Customers who utilise Raven Controls are assured not just a safe and successful event, but a comprehensive variety of accessible tools designed to assist in the smooth running of live events. It includes features such as the in-control dashboard which provides real-time critical information that is readily usable and can identify what is happening in an instant; Digital Logging to intuitively capture essential information; Checklists to provide staff with clarity; and instant notification alerts.

In addition, the Inter-Account Working component allows agencies and event stakeholders to maximise interoperability through Raven’s multi-agency situational awareness, whilst Raven Eye allows fans seeking to report issues happening during the event to get into contact with Raven through instant SMS messaging. Finally, Raven Mobile provides a guide to an event’s operations team through a remote setup aimed to provide consistency and staff reassurance.

The UEFA EURO 2020 tournament saw Raven Controls playing a central part in the coordination and communication aspects of the month-long event. Raven successfully coordinated real-time shared situational awareness across the 51 matches and 11 host cities and stadiums at EURO 2020, all the while streaming directly to the UEFA command centre in Switzerland.

Raven Controls consistently displayed a capability for capturing integral information and providing a direct link from the stadium and host city to UEFA HQ. The software available to Raven Controls at the time ensured that many policies, protocols and procedures in place were able to be effectively met and complied with.

Major tournaments such as EURO 2020 often offer a challenging adjustment period for newly-implemented technologies, however Raven’s intuitive and user-friendly system benefitted the intricacies and complexities of the tournament. Considering the tournament unfolded over 11 different countries – which subsequently included a variety of cultures, languages and customs – Raven Controls were able to consistently ensure that UEFA’s digitally embedded checklists were adhered to and that information was accurately reported and communicated.

In a live footballing event setting, Raven Controls no doubt provides a guarantee of maintaining consistent safety standards and assurance for venue management and workers. It will be fascinating to see if the technology is included as part of the organisation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year.

Tottenham Hotspur debut worldwide streaming platform SpursPlay

Tottenham

English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur have launched their own global over-the-top (OTT) video platform with Endeavor Streaming, offering fans a selection of live matches, archive content, and original programming.

‘SpursPlay’ is available both online and via a mobile application and will show all four of the men’s team’s preseason friendlies, along with live coverage of home youth matches, selected away U-21 games, and additional women’s team fixtures throughout the 2022/23 season.

Subscribers will also have access to an enhanced matchday offering featuring live audio commentary and full match replays from every first team fixture, and the headline original feature is a documentary focusing on head coach Antonio Conte’s first 202 days in charge of the men’s team.

“We are excited to bring SpursPlay to our fans,” Pierre-Olivier Bouche said in a statement – who is the media, programming and operations director at Tottenham Hotspur.

“The club has been determined to create a platform that brings all its fantastic video content together in one place for fans to access at their fingertips – whether that’s watching live match action they can’t find anywhere else, reliving some of their favourite moments from down the years or watching new longer formats that provide a unique insight into the club and its players. We believe SpursPlay will revolutionise the way fans access club content.”

The service makes use of Endeavor’s full suite of video streaming, subscriber management, and payment processing capabilities, with the Premier League club able to access performance insight tools to optimise user experience and engagement.

Endeavor’s capabilities also allow Tottenham’s commercial partners to be integrated into the platform, meaning it can deliver additional value and revenues for the club beyond fan engagement.

“SpursPlay is the first of many team-based direct-to-consumer services we will launch in sport across the US, EMEA and APAC,” Pete Bellamy said in a statement, who is senior vice president of global sports and international M&E at Endeavor Streaming.

“The direct-to-consumer ambitions of top-tier clubs and teams go well beyond the technical delivery of video. The leading sports organisations require a partner who can advise and execute the most direct path to growth in both consumer engagement and revenue. At Endeavor Streaming, it’s our job to ensure that SpursPlay delivers for the club and its fans to the highest level.”

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