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Reign in Spain

Over in continental Europe, Spain’s Government has taken a significant step to outlaw a previous, controversial law which allowed clubs that were strapped for cash to avoid relegation by going into administration.  I’m sure Barry Hearn wouldn’t have liked this law much! 

Racing Santander was the last club to seek protection from creditors under the former law, in the summer.  Others that have taken this unfair advantage have included big brands such as two of the ‘Reals’: Mallorca and Zaragoza (a member of my family is on the management team there).   I can’t help but smile here, thinking of the Turks use of ‘Real’ in an attempt to avoid passing-off and copyright (aka ‘Real’ Koç).  Players and the indigenous Trade Union have applauded this move, said to be a key reason for the stand-off and strike pre-season at La Liga.  The dispute between Spanish footballers and the Professional League has just been rectified with players finally agreeing to call off strike action.   The players apparently account for a liability of some 50 Million Euros from clubs using the Law to not fulfil financial obligations, amongst other reasons.  “This reform will prevent the undesirable use and abuse of certain instruments of the bankruptcy law and ensure stability and equality in sports competitions” – the Government has commented, according to Reuters News Agency.

 Twenty-one clubs in Spain were either in administration, recently exited or in the process of applying. So it’s officially an epidemic?  A tightening up of laws can only help create that ‘level playing field’!

A feminine touch

Turkey was in the news today for less than appeasing reasons.  Last night at Elland Road, a minority of Manchester United fans taunted the Leeds supporters with a rendition of “always look for the Turk carrying a knife”  (edited from original lyrics as fans often do!).  This verbal attack, also visual by an odd flag pronouncing ‘Galatasaray’ or ‘Istanbul’.  Naturally, both sides played a part, with a reminder of Munich in the Leeds’ repertoire.

Just up the road in Istanbul another footballing spectacle was catching worldwide attention.  You’ve no doubt read earlier about the problems in the Turkish game.  After the allegations facing Fenerbache and other instances of fans’ violence, it was expected that empty stadiums would be one form of punishment.  The Turks however, brought us a novel approach, courtesy of our friends at the TFF including Cem ülkeroglu (Turkish Football Federation).

They opened the gates to last night’s game against Manisaspor, but only to — women and children under the age of 12. That’s right no men, the traditional dominant punter were not allowed into the Ground.  It doesn’t stop there.  All tickets were free of charge.  A whopping 40,000 crowd attended the fixture!  The singing and hospitality was more ‘lady like’ in tone and activity also.

Now that’s a turn up for the books.  How can this impact on that Country’s sport which mirrors many of the problems that were former ‘evils’ of the British counterpart in former years?

Football academia

Been there, done it, worn the T shirt. I refer to the academic route that I took in earlier life before starting my career.  Though I do update every year via cpd to stay abreast of latest knowledge and tactics pertinent to my profession.  I believe that there are over 40 letters that I can use after my name if I wanted to relate to qualifications and achievements etc (BA Hons MA FCIM MISPAL Chartered Marketer MInstF…………).  Proud as I am of this collection, and would advocate everyone consider seriously further education, I bleat often that it is the “University of Life” that really matters. Most of that which I have achieved has combined that initial knowledge with on the job experience and commercial acumen.

I started this observation in that sometimes people debate the pros and cons of continuing education.  At this point I would like to say that I have recently had contact with two leading academics relating to the football world.  I shared a stage as speaker with Sean Hamil.  He is a Lecturer at Birkbeck University and has been Director of Supporters Direct, the UK Government-sponsored organisation established to assist football supporters to set up trusts (co-operatives) which invest equity in their football clubs.  He is Author to “State of the Game” and “Who Owns Football?: The Governance and Management of the Club Game Worldwide”. The second was Dr John Beech who I met through Twitter and our common use of the #footballfinance (hash tag).  He is a Senior Research Fellow at Coventry University, where he is Head of Sport & Tourism at the Applied Research Centre in Sustainable Regeneration (SURGE). He received the Football Supporters’ Federation Writer of the Year Award for season 2009/10.  From a limited collaboration to date I can reinforce a belief that the commercial business world and academia have much common ground and can work together to achieve things.

Is Manchester winning?

I should have used the last blog photograph with this post as I’m banging on my drum again about the pitfalls associated with completely ignoring social media.  Naturally, I’m a convert but I’d like to think from a reasoned platform.

It seems to me ages ago since my colleague and brother-in-law, Bilen, wrote his thesis whilst completing his Master’s Degree in Strategic Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University.  It was titled: “The role of online communities in internet marketing: a study of three professional football clubs in the North West of England”.  Its compilation kindly assisted by the co-operation of three of my clients: Stockport County FC, Bury FC and Oldham Athletic FC.  I recall this subject, as still to this date some organisations are only just  awakening to the potential of its use in digital marketing strategies.

Some have said, Manchester is leading the way.  “United” is a key case study in Facebook Marketing’s intelligence.  “City” is on a pedestal with a selection of tactics scoring ‘early goals’ such as Flickr and Twitter.

We’ve had some great R.O.I (return on investment, not to be confused with Republic of Ireland) from social media.  I hope some of you are following me on Twitter and YouTube?  Or maybe Check In at my office on FourSquare (specials available!).  However you look at it, this social approach has merits and has to be considered.  There is no prescriptive solution but much best practice around.  Furthermore, when expanding into the use of  ‘social communities’ I buy in here also.  I think it was David Jones that wasn’t in favour of online fans forums – but you cannot be a serious marketer if you don’t embrace this methodology and communication channel.  It’s valuable in research, PR, polling perceptions and publicity.  Expect more from me on this subject at a later date.