The benefits of partnerships in football

A common thread between Dortmund, Villarreal C.F and Celtic F.C is that they all have partnerships with football clubs in Australia – which provide benefits to both the local and international organisations.

There are different types of partnerships in football, such as the sponsorship type partnerships which see sportswear companies become the official apparel partner of a club.

Then there are the academy and football development partnerships, something that many Australian organisations have been taking advantage of. Partnerships with well-known leagues and clubs from overseas are becoming increasingly common.

The University of Canberra and La Liga’s education department, the La Liga Business School announced a collaboration agreement last week – with the intention to professionalise the local sports industry.

The ‘Beyond 2020: Professional Football Strategy – A discussion with La Liga’ webinar was the first event help through the partnership and was attended by many industry professionals including Capital Football CEO Phil Brown and Villarreal C.F. Business Development Manager, Mar Llaneza.

During the event LaLiga’s delegate in Australia and New Zealand, Glen Rolls spoke about La Liga’s international strategy and how the league is also looking to share its knowledge whilst also learning from the Australian football industry.

“We certainly look forward to developing more programs to help … professionalise the industry moving forward,” he said.

Professionalisation of the sports industry is clearly a focus for La Liga, the Director of LaLiga Business School, Jose Moya also referred to it in his statement upon the announcement of the partnership with the University of Canberra.

“This agreement reaffirms the commitment of our organization to professionalise the sports sector and, in line with our slogan, it’s not football, it’s LaLiga, this positions us at the forefront of the industry, not only in terms of sports but also in educational standards,” he said.

La Liga is not the only Spanish football organisation that is bringing its knowledge and expertise to Australian football. In November, La Liga club Villareal C.F expanded its presence in Australia with a Sydney academy.

The new academy sits alongside its Melbourne academy Monash Villarreal, formerly Monash City FC.

Another example of the advantages provided by a partnership is Sydney FC’s partnership with Dutch club, AFC Ajax.

Ajax are known for their expertise in youth development and have been sharing their knowledge with Sydney FC.

Sydney FC’s Technical Director – Youth, Kelly Cross said that the club wanted to learn all it can from arguably the best club in the world.

“As we continue to strive for excellence, it is fantastic to be able to learn from Ajax; we are looking to pick up all we can from a club who are arguably the best club on the planet in terms of bringing young players to an international level,” he said.

“We aim to continue to share knowledge and experience, as well as building the relationship in terms of exposing our players to the Ajax coaches.”

Even the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspurs launched a Player Development Programme in New Zealand late last month. The Hotspurs are partnering with Scots College in Wellington.

Tottenham has two football development partnerships in Australia with the University of Wollongong in New South Wales and Nudgee College in Queensland.

Head of Global Coaching at Tottenham Hotspur, Andy Rogers said that Tottenham Hotspurs coaching has assisted player development at partner organisations.

“We are delighted to deliver our first ever player development programme in New Zealand, working in partnership with Scots College,” he said.

“Our international model has proven successful in the US, Asia and Australia in developing young players through authentic Tottenham Hotspur coaching.”

“We look forward to working closely with young players from the College and local coaches, helping to drive standards of player development in the region.”

These arrangements can also benefit teams off the field. The main focus of Dortmund’s partnership with Indian Super League team Hyderabad FC is coaching and youth development, however Dortmund is also providing assistance with fan-engagement and technology.

“We therefore look forward towards achieving shared successes, both on and off the pitch, as we continue to build nice stories and special experiences for our fans in India and around the region,” BVB APAC Managing Director, Suresh Letchmanan said in a statement regarding the partnership.

Dortmund also has an Australian partnership with NPL club Marconi FC, although this agreement focuses on coach and player development.

The Australian football industry is a lot smaller in comparison to the scale of the industry in some other countries – partnerships in football with major clubs and league can help Australian football grow.

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

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania report of AFC Champions League assesses the cost of competition for players and clubs

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania has published a report on key financial findings from the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) flagship club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL).

The report, AFC Champions League Analysis Report: Counting the cost for players and clubs, was produced alongside sporting intelligence agency Twenty First Group (TFG).

This analysis is in response to the announcement of AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE) commencing in July this year, as revealed by the AFC in December 2022.

Based on TFG’s analysis, insights and feedback from participating players and clubs, the report addresses the feasibility of running ACLE with key factors including on-field quality and competitive balance, attendances and fan engagement, economics for clubs and players, travel and workload, competition design, and football development outcomes.

The research undertaken focusses on the value of introducing ACLE, based on the current operations of the ACL.

“This report analyses the merits and drawbacks of the current AFC Champions League based on various data and the results indicate that the merits do not outweigh the drawbacks for most players and clubs, making it an unsustainable system,” FIFPRO Asia/Oceania Chair Takuya Yamazaki outlines in the report.

“However, this does not mean that the future of football in Asia is bleak. On the contrary, we believe that this economically significant region can lead a discussion for truly sustainable competition formats.”

The report is the most comprehensive public analysis of the ACL and includes recommendations for what the AFC should be implementing.

“For players, the development of competitions is central to their employment conditions and future opportunities. As its primary workforce, the players are determined to play their role to shape a sustainable and innovation-driven future for the football sector in Asia,” Yamazaki added.

World Leagues Forum is involved in representing professional football leagues on a global level. General Secretary Jerome Perlemuter explained that collaboration between all stakeholders in the Asian region would help shape and deliver sustainable competitions.

“FIFPRO’s contribution to shaping the future of Asian continental competitions is most welcome,” Perlemuter said.

“Sustainable football development requires confederations, leagues and players to work together with a common objective to shape high potential continental competitions in a consistent global calendar. In this context, it is important to consider economic, geographical and cultural specificities. We look forward to continuing these discussions with FIFPRO and all stakeholders.”

To see the report in full, you can do so here.

Wellington Phoenix team up with Chinese outfit Tianjin Tiger

Wellington Phoenix have partnered with Chinese Super League team Tianjin Tiger to boost football growth in both nations.

As part of the Wellington Phoenix Tianjin Tiger Sister City Friendship, the clubs have agreed to hold an annual encounter between their men’s first teams.

The inaugural Wellington Phoenix F.C. vs. Tianjin Tiger F.C. Sister City Shield match is set to take place in Tianjin this September, with the second in Wellington next year.

The strategic collaboration was formed after Phoenix general manager David Dome visited Tianjin in September as part of a business delegation headed by Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau.

The club hosted a delegation from Tianjin, and the two sides signed the Memorandum of Understanding at the Mayor’s office.

Phoenix general manager David Dome was thrilled with the partnership going through.

“The mayoral delegation to China last year was invaluable and I’m thrilled about this partnership with Tianjin Jinmen Tiger, which will be of benefit to the club on multiple levels,” he said via press release.

“Not only will the men get to play a Chinese Super League side as part of their A-League pre-season each year, but the academy will soon benefit from an influx of footballers from Tianjin.

“We’re looking to grow our academy to have an international component and Tianjin Jinmen have committed to sending some young players to Wellington to attend training camps in July and we’re discussing the possibility of their juniors being part of a new international academy annual programme.

“International students are essential for the secondary and tertiary education sector in Wellington and we are evaluating how an elite international academy focused on football can be part of New Zealand’s international education offering.”

Wellington mayor Tory Whanau added that the city is excited about the opportunity. 

“I’d like to congratulate David Dome and the wider team for the work they’ve done on this MoU,” he stated via press release.

“I’m beyond stoked that the delegation last September has resulted in this MoU between the Wellington Phoenix and Tianjin Jinmen Tiger. 

“The development opportunities for both the clubs will be invaluable to not only football but also our cities.”

The Phoenix are enjoying a successful A-league campaign where they currently sit top of the table 18 games into the season.

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