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Football as a business

Tangled up in Blue

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May 24, 2004
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Bear with me but the following are some quotes from the above chapter in Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski's excellent "Why England lose (and other curious football phenomena explained)" which I think has a lot of relevance for SUFC's current situation.

"Football is neither big business nor good business.It arguably isn't even a business at all."The authors quote the eg of BBA Aviation in the FTSE 250 which in 2008 had revenues of 1,15 billion ponds and profits of 66million pounds -far in excess of the revenues/profits of Real Madrid and MU.

"Football is not merely a small business,It's also a bad one.Anyone who spends any time inside football soon discovers that just as oil is part of the oil business,stupidity is part of the football business.".........................."Take the renovating of English stadiums in the early 1990's,it was an obvious business idea.Tesco doesn't receive customers in sheds built in the Victorian era and gone to seed since.Yet football clubs never seem tohave thought of spending money on their grounds until the Taylor Report of 1990 forced them to.They did up their stadiums and bingo:more customers came."

"MANY CLUBS ARE DOMINATED BY A VAIN OWNER-MANAGER(my capitals)..LOTS OF THEM INVESTED FOR EGO REASONS ,WHICH IS NEVER A GOOD THING IN BUSINESS,THEY PREFER NOT TO HAVE STRONG PEOPLE AROUND THEM,EXCEPT THE COACH.THEY PAY REALLY LOW SALARIES".

"In most industries a bad business goes bankrupt,but football clubs almost never do.The 40 English clubs that entered insolvency proceedings through May 2008(-including SUFC of course-)cut deals with their creditors(usually the players and the taxman)and moved on.Yes ,Aldershot went bankrupt in 1992,but supporters simply started a new club almost identical to the old one"

"Football is more than just a business.No one has their ashes scattered down the aisle of Tesco."(Rogan Taylor)

..."When business people look at football,they are often astonished at how unbusinesslike the clubs are.Every now and then one of them takes over a club and promises to run it "like a business".The exampled quoted is of course Alan Sugar at Spurs(but it could equally of course be Ron Martin).Sugar's "brillant wheeze was to make Spurs live within their means....He more or less kept his word.In the ten years that he ran Spurs,they lived within their means.But most of their fans hated it.The only thing that Spurs won in that decade was a solitary league cup.They spent most of their time in mid-table...Nor did they even make much money:about two million pounds a year in profits in Sugar's first six years..Sugar's Spurs disappointed both on and off the field,and they also illustrated a paradox:WHEN BUSINESS PEOPLE TRY TO RUN A FOOTBALL CLUB AS A BUSINESS,THEN NOT ONLY DOES THE FOOTBALL SUFFER,BUT SO ALSO DOES THE BUSINESS"(my capitals).

..."It's not that winning matches can help a club make profits;rather,the effect works the other way around;if a club finds new revenues that can help it win matches"

.."It is in fact almost impossible to run a football club like a profit-making business.This is because there will always be rival owners"-(Think,Charlton,Leeds and Huddersfield)-"who don't care about profits and will spend whatever it takes in the hope of winning prizes."

..."Running a football club to make money looks like a lost cause.Nor,it might be argued,should anyone attempt it.Most of a club's customers(its fans)and employees(its players and coaches)and even usually its owners would say that the club exists to play good football and win things,not to turn profits."The authors go on to quote an anonymous club chairman as sayiing," Any club manangement which allows the club to make a profit is behaving foolishly".

Food for thought.I'm still only two-thirds through the book and there's a section on clubs moving to new grounds so TBC I think :-)
 
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