How is COVID-19 affecting the football industry?


If you’ve watched a live soccer game lately, you’ve probably done so from the comfort of your couch, like the rest of the crowd. Even the word ‘crowd’ is creating chills in the wake of COVID-19, and it will be a long time before fans are allowed to return to the stadiums.

Of course, fans are thankful that there is football to watch. The lockdown has put seasons on hold and big games have been called off in the short term due to positive tests among players. However, football as it is, with thousands of stadiums and a thrilling atmosphere, should bounce back when the shots kick in and regular fans return to the terraces. Football professionals recognize that the challenges facing sport and industry require imaginative solutions.

So what are these challenges? And where can you study to prepare for a career in the post-coronavirus football industry?

Modified routines

Football evolves slowly. But fans, players and stakeholders adapted very quickly to models beyond those they are used to. As normalcy returns, it will likely do so in unpredictable and unprecedented ways, including the return of fans to the stands. Clubs will need to negotiate the unknown, keeping everyone safe and informed as normal habits are disrupted.

In other aspects of the business, change will be put on hold. Many clubs have made efforts to diversify their fan base in recent years, but they will divert some of that energy to reconnect with membership holders and loyal supporters.

Match day innovation

“While the full financial impact of COVID-19 is yet to be felt,” Deloitte said ahead of the 2020-21 season, “it is expected that clubs in smaller football countries and those in lower leagues in larger countries will be hardest hit. These clubs are generally more dependent on match day income. “

With no one going through the turnstiles, clubs innovate to generate income on match days. For example, the big Danish club FC Midtjylland has transformed the parking lot of its stadium into a drive-in to watch the matches on the big screen. But even when the doors are fully open again, clubs might struggle to attract crowds due to the nervousness associated with using public transport. And fans may need some encouragement to hang out and spend their cash in stadium shops and bars after games.

Young players thrive

An unexpected benefit of a football “recession” is that managers can no longer rely on big bank reserves to fund team improvements. They will have to be inventive to strengthen their team. Instead of investing tens of millions in headline signing, managers and coaches will invest unprecedented time and attention in their youth teams, promoting local talent.

“At Ipswich we have a really talented group of Under-15s and Under-16s,” said Paul Lambert, manager of Ipswich Town. “I know if we can’t go out and spend a certain amount, we can bring in these guys and develop them.”

Developing technology – and relationships

Digitized aspects of football are likely to see a rapid flow due to COVID lockdowns. Clubs and broadcasters will rely on technological solutions to broadcast new types of content and diversify sources of income.

Sponsors will need more meaningful relationships with clubs and supporters to ensure they get their money’s worth. Again, this will likely involve digital solutions, as big data and club websites are put to work to personalize the fan experience (and ad profiles).

The financial blow is not as bad as expected

The good news is that the financial losses haven’t been as bad as expected. “A KPMG study suggested that the Big Five were likely to lose up to € 4 billion in 2019-20 alone and that up to € 10 billion could be erased from player value.” , ESPN reports. Instead, more recent forecasts estimate a total loss of € 4 billion over 20 top leagues (rather than five) and two seasons (rather than one). Given that this 4 billion euros comes from an expected turnover of 45.1 billion euros, it is clear that the problem is less the magnitude of the loss than that of who it affects and how. .

Start your career in football business

Everyone knows the players, coaches and owners of football clubs, sports presenters and commentators. But the fascinating business side of football takes place behind closed doors – fans see the headlines, but talented pros do not. They are adding up the numbers in this lucrative industry. Marketing managers, executives and football agents need skills like players in any other business.

The University Commercial Football Campus (UCFB) opened at Burnley FC’s Turf Moor in 2011 to offer football and sports-focused degrees for those who wish to take the sport further. The UFCB has since opened campuses at the legendary Wembley Stadium, home of the England national team, and the state-of-the-art Etihad Stadium, home of quadruple Premier League winner Manchester City.

“At the heart of our Wembley campus is the iconic and historic Wembley Stadium, with phenomenal facilities surrounding one of the most inspiring and emotional places in sport,” said Sharona Friedman, Head of Future Students at the UCFB. “Riding Wembley Way, I assure you, never gets boring. It constantly inspires people.

In just a few years, the UFCB has developed a 90% graduate employment rate within six months of graduation (two-thirds in sports), which is well above the average for diploma providers. sportsmen. And by partnering with amazing brands, clubs and stadiums, the school ensures that its degrees are vibrant and relevant.

“We use a mix of academics from purely academic backgrounds, as well as some industry-related backgrounds, and we really focus on those areas,” Friedman adds. “You’re going to hear from guest speakers, which really brings the theory to life and makes it more applicable. We provide a plethora of opportunities to go out there and actually try out what you have learned in class.

A world institute of sport

In addition to these fantastic campuses, UCFB has launched the Global Institute of Sport (GIS), an exciting new center for masters and executive education for the global sports industry. GIS has residences at Red Bull Arena in New York, Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, and Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia. These campuses and partnerships allow students to connect directly to an unrivaled network of big names in sport in the powerhouses of international football and sport.

Programs include UCFB’s MSc Football Business, designed to launch careers as players’ agents, CFOs, and other exciting positions in the football industry.

“My whole life has always revolved around sport, and I know I have wanted to work in the industry for several years, so the MSc Football Business gives me a unique chance to specialize in something that I am passionate about,” says the student. Silje Meese, who studies at the Wembley campus. “The course is up to date and relevant to the current state of the football industry, and is a great addition to my bachelor’s degree in international marketing.”

“The online degree gave me the opportunity to stay at home with my family and continue my education in the football industry,” says Maximilian Never, MSc Football Business (Online) student. “My speaker Chris (Winn) was fantastic. He studied football business himself, is very knowledgeable and himself comes from a financial football background in the industry. So it was great to have the chance. to talk to him; he was always available, so you really felt like you were a part of everything. “

The company at the heart of the beautiful game

BA Football Business and Media graduate Sean Elderbrant is now Digital Media Manager at the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL). “When you work in a place like this, you start to see how bad it takes to make a football game,” Elderbrant explains. “It’s not just what fans see when you show up for 90 minutes in the park.”

Elderbrant met SPFL General Manager Neil Doncaster during a UCFB management game session. Thanks to him, Elderbrant obtained work experience and an internship with the SPFL. In addition to reaffirming that this was the career Elderbrant wanted, these experiences paved the way for the enviable position he occupies today.

Naturally, during your studies, you can find time to play the good game (if the confinement allows it). UCFB has its own football teams, which participate in BUCS, the official organization of the UK University League.

Playing with your colleagues is the perfect way to strengthen your network and remind yourself of what football business is: bringing people together to play and enjoy the world’s favorite sport, whatever the conditions. Better to warm up!

Article written in collaboration with UCFB.


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