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Posts tagged ‘FC United’

US of A

To be quite honest, I’m spoilt for choice today, on football finance stories to mull over.  What with Rangers omission from the SPL etc.

However, I want to reflect on the happenings at Manchester United, perhaps coincidentally this American Day of Independence. Today actually means more to me as it’s my Father-in-Law’s birthday, Necati Kur (pictured). Those of you that know me or read my posts are aware of my contractual allegiance to the FC United of Manchester rather than its ‘big brother’. This team formed in reaction to dissatisfaction with the affairs surrounding the American businessmen, ‘The Glazers’’ takeover. 

Late last night, and so mainly aired today, ‘Man U’ announced that it would seek to raise circa $60M via the New York Stock Exchange.

MUST (Manchester United Supporters Trust) has commented: “Until we have more detail it is impossible to say with certainty what this will mean for Manchester United or its supporters. However, from the initial information we have it appears that the new A shares on offer will be inferior to the Glazers’ own B shares as they will carry only 1/10 of the voting rights. Furthermore the preliminary filing appears to indicate they will not be paying dividends either. So a minority shareholding with inferior voting rights and no dividends is going to severely impact on the attraction to both financial and supporter investors.  However if it turns out that the vast majority of the proceeds are used to pay off the debt that is certainly something MUST would welcome and entirely vindicates our longstanding position that their debt was damaging our club.”

The Barclays Premier League’s Club filed documents with the United States Government’s Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday. Man U would use the money raised from the flotation to reduce its substantial (some might argue unsustainable) debts.

This latest tactical move by The Glazer’s hierarchy, is hot on the heels of the $1Bn (£640M) flotation tried last year via Singapore’s equivalent stock market.  The plug was pulled on that due to the volatility of the World’s economy.

The BBC reported that: “The Glazers borrowed large sums of money to buy the Club and the interest payments on this debt are onerous. In 2010, the owners converted these loans into a bond in order to reduce the interest, but analysts say the share sale demonstrates how the club remains weighed down by its heavy debts, despite its huge global fan base and promotional and marketing efforts. The Club currently owes £423M”.

Playing financial-football with a global brand?

FCUM nearly home

FC United of Manchester (“FCUM”) has raised in excess of £1.5M from its community shares issue.  I am delighted to have worked with this Club in the UK (and Turkey).  This experience reflects my commitment to the concept of greater supporters’ involvement and governance being a potential model for ‘clubs’ stewardship’.

The achievement means that only £71K is needed to build the Stadium and ancillary facilities in Moston.  I have no doubt that this will be achieved.  I’ve even had a recent notification of another bid for FCUM being successful.  Indeed, they are asking me to meet in the morning?

The Club has received planning permission from Manchester City Council to build a football ground and community facility in Moston, North Manchester, and is looking to raise £4.6M in total.  This Site after an earlier proposed site at Ten Acre Lane and a ‘spiritual home’ at Newton Heath fell through.

The Appeal illustrates something that I have been excited by for some time as another string (of many!) in running the sport and financing in non-traditional ways.

FCUM’s Andy Walsh, General Manager comments: “Raising over GBP1.5m in the current economic climate has been a Herculean effort and we believe is the largest amount ever raised by supporters independently. With 95% of our share target now achieved, and brilliant progress made on other funds such as our Development Fund, we just need a final push to raise the remaining GBP71,000 by 15 March, which will unlock other grant funding and enable us to start building in Moston”.

The FC United community share scheme has a minimum share purchase of £200 and is open to all investors, whether individuals or organisations. The share issue has been given advance approval by the HMRC Enterprise Investment Scheme and subject to personal circumstances this allows individuals to claim tax relief of up to 30 per cent on the amount that they purchase in the share scheme.

Sports marketing in emerging markets

I was asked to contemplate this subject, based upon my overseas work; and especially to compare and contrast practices between the United Kingdom and Turkey with a sprinkling of anecdotes.

1. The power of learning: The collaboration between both countries has been apparent in many ways. Often a starting point is the innovation and proactivity of educational establishments. We have recently co-ordinated a successful conference called “Haydi futboldas olalim” (or “Let’s be football friends”). In planning for the event, my colleagues and I had consultations with leading universities and were particularly impressed on the sports educational front by both Kadir Has and Bahçeşehir. This in terms of forward thinking, curriculum, facilities and enthusiasm. Obviously, we start with this comment as a common grounding in sports education and marketing stems from the qualifications that are obtained post-mainstream schooling. Arguably. British sports marketing options at universities and further education are more mature, but there is no reason to doubt the suitability of the increasingly popular Turkish alternative. We helped to pull together an impressive panel of both academics and practitioners in Istanbul. These included: Turkish Football Federation (TFF), Birkbeck College (London) and FC United of Manchester (FCUM). I represented FC Sports Marketing. The papers presented, considered the pros and cons of governance and the suitability of the adoption of such as the FCUM model to Turkey’s professional sport. Many of the reasons that underpins greater supporters’ ownership and governance worldwide are equally applicable to Turkey, yet the desire for change appears still in need to be proven. In recent months we have witnessed, hooliganism, lack of family orientation, missed tricks on commercial marketing and alleged match-fixing. Maybe it’s just that one club needs to ‘put its toes in the water’ and others will follow suit. We could be helping this very first step in the year of the ‘Istanbul European Capital of Sport 2012’. Next stop for us is a ‘bit part’ in the “International Congress on Sports Management and Economics”. This time moving from Istanbul to Izmir. Its focus appears in the programme to be to “review and analyze sports industry within the framework of economics, management and business discipline.” Maybe I’m mistaken but at first glance perhaps a more scholarly communication – yet the timing is ripe for a debate on ‘where are we now, where do we want to go to’ etc.

2. Marketing and the feminine touch: The media coverage in the UK, looking in at Turkey has had a positive tone recently. Another inspirational concept surrounded a footballing spectacle with a global grasp of attention. The topic in question is one that I’ve covered in my personal blogosphere. I refer to the incident concerning Fenerbache and other instances of fans’ violence. It was expected that empty stadiums would be a foregone conclusion (incidentally, I’ve never seen the painted hoardings of spectators in the UK as they have done in Turkey when fans are banned from a fixture). The Turks however, brought a novel approach, with input from our friends at the TFF. They opened the gates to the match against Manisaspor, but only to — women and children under the age of 12. That’s right no men, the traditional, majority in the stadium. 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. How can this impact on the Country’s sport which mirrors many of the problems that were former ‘evils’ of the British counterpart in former years? Maybe not at all – but I would have hoped at the very least there will be an increased sensitivity to appreciating the aspirations of all segments of the supporting population, and maybe this could be catalyst to increasing ‘football in the community’ which has not been as well explored as it has in the United Kingdom helping numerous beneficiaries in an array of subjects from good citizenship, healthy living, child safety, sport and exercise and learning.

3. Playing hard ball: Another anecdote, and one that I continue to investigate is the differences that we have recently witnessed when assisting in the establishment of a new merchandise and toy distributor in Turkey. Our roles were both consultative and negotiative in co-operation with our respective contacts at Galatasaray, Besiktas and Fenerbache. We were promoting an opportunity that was already adopted, for a Scandinavian company, with the giants of European football branding including Chelsea, Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus. As a generality, we have found the ‘Turkish nut’ a tougher one to crack. Not in terms of not succeeding but there has been a tendency to more desire for substantial up front deposits from any affinity between a manufacturer and a club (and use of its brand). Understandable, yes – and with common facets to many a deal that we do in the Barclays Premier League; yet I wonder whether the earlier accepted success fee only and dependency on royalties, however significant, is a tact that will bare fruit in Turkey?

4. New sports: At short notice, we were approached to assist in formulative plans on introducing the sport of rugby to Turkey. The approach came via another agency, which had limited expertise in rugby. We organised for some of our contacts including former Sale Sharks Lock and Coach (England Counties XV), Dave Baldwin, plus representative(s) of the Rugby Football Union to visit Istanbul for preliminary discussions with an intended follow on to provide a ‘roadmap’ for the development of a Turkish National Rugby team and also a long term grass roots development plan for the Country. Subject to funding from the General Directorate of Youth and Sports and possibly the International Rugby Board (IRB), there is a huge opportunity and hopefully one that we will assist further on. I get the impression that the powers that be are looking to ensure a proper representation of Turkish sports people and athletes across some sports that have not traditionally been pursued by the indigenous population. This all packaged around the bigger picture of pursuing the ‘Olympic Dream’. I have noticed that Lacrosse has just started in Turkey but again by an immigrant from the United Kingdom. I believe (or so they say), this was how football was introduced to the Country also?

6. Governance: I make no apology for returning back to ‘Governance’ as a differentiator between the respective countries. FC Sports Marketing and I are perfectly positioned to advise those clubs, irrespective of sport, when they take that leap of faith. I’m assuming, it will only be a matter of time. Supporters’ Direct (SD) is a key protagonist helping sports organisations with guidance and knowledge-share on this subject. One of the closest taking that plunge has been FC Aris. SD is the overseeing organisation formed by the British Government (with cross-party, political agreement) to provide support to ‘supporters’ trusts (fans) to secure a greater level of accountability and democracy within football clubs and more recently in other sports that include rugby. Notable milestones in this movement have been 170 supporters’ trusts formed, the active engagement of more than 270,000 fans and 26 trusts having achieved majority equity stakes in the clubs in which they are involved. Trusts are now established under the auspices of SD in ten European Countries. To appreciate the context and sea-change that will be needed, I paraphrase a recent constitution of an evolving trust, it set as prime objectives: To seek to acquire a shareholding in the sports club; To have an elected member attending meetings of the Board of Directors; To be the pioneer, in any relaunch or ‘phoenix’ club in the eventuality financial difficulties arise. Already, one can appreciate how this is a big move in many Turkish clubs – but an option that possesses benefits for the appropriate converts.

Minithon 2011

I am delighted to report of the success of Stockport County Supporters’ Co-operative in the 5.8km ‘Minithon’. We raced (actually you could run, walk or crawl) against participants from Ace Centre North West (Charity) and FC United of Manchester.  Ashley Simpson, Graham Privett, Ian Brown and I did proud raising £650 from the endeavours.

We were admirably supported along the route by Pauline Lawson and Ian Watts. The Event was opportune as two football clubs and their fans co-operated together towards a greater goal of fundraising. Completed, nicely with a trip to Chorlton Irish Club for beverages.

It’s not too late to sponsor me:

The Charity said Thank you for supporting the FC Minithon 2011 and raising funds for Stockport County Supporters’ Co-operative and ACE Centre North.  We were delighted at the turnout on Sunday, and hope that you enjoyed the day as much as we did.  A photograph of you celebrating mission accomplished is attached”.