Crystal Palace, Standard de Liège, AC Milan, Fiorentina, Parma, AS Roma, Venezia FC, Atalanta, AS Genoa, AS Nancy, OM, Chelsea, Red Star and soon Olympique Lyonnais: These European clubs often belong to American groups. the same ones that cause questioning and discomfort.
However, football remains an emerging sport in the United States, behind basketball, baseball, or American football with as many sporting events as shows.
Are we witnessing the arrival of sports entertainment? Which operational and financial model correspond to these acquisitions, most of which have been made since 2018? Why do they scare European players so much?
Seeking commercial and financial synergies
The traditional business model of clubs is based on the vertical of players whose sports results translate into television rights, ticketing, sales and commerce. The balance of cash flows is complex; most European clubs are losing heavily from year to year.
And this is the key point of difference with a new model aimed at financial balance through the horizontal expansion of the customer offer.
Beyond looking for sporting results, these investors’ strategy is to transfer good practice from other industries to the clubs they buy from, modernize them and give them a “scale” effect:
– They aim for commercial, financial and managerial synergies through the ownership of several clubs in Europe – CIES, quoted by Forbes, estimates there are 60 multi-clubs in the world, two-thirds of which were born after 2018;
– offer a joint organization between clubs of the same family, including women’s teams and training academies;
– systematically use data analysis and artificial intelligence to support investment and hiring decisions through expert teams;
– they promote the expansion of their club’s social footprint by producing adjoining content (video, podcasts, series, music, etc.) about the values, struggles and history of clubs, teams and players – others have already done this successfully: Formula 1 (Liberty Media, also American (since its takeover by Netflix) produced four seasons of “Formula One” at Netflix, and tennis is no longer a biopic;
– transform stadiums into living spaces and engage in dialogue with their regional community between matches;
– contribute to the digitization of the audience experience through new engagement and loyalty tools such as social networks and NFTs. Supporting or following a club is no longer a matter of zip code or physical proximity, it’s a matter of belonging to a digital community that shares a boundless passion.
At the intersection of sports, media and technology…
These changes, of course, are not in agreement – especially among traditional fans, who fear that their club’s singularity will diminish at remote multinationals.
However, this update of the model ultimately leads clubs to refocus their attention on the customer – the fan, the spectator – and the cultural issue of sporting outcomes.
This allows clubs to reconnect with their people and listen to new expectations in terms of inclusion, diversity and values.
France can make its exception in this area, which bears witness to its strong French appeal, symbolized by the Red Star, the only National 1 club to be part of this American selection.
By pooling its existing talents in this new ecosystem, France can envision its next champions at the intersection of sports, media, entertainment and technology, in industries where it excels and its heritage is rich.
The Americans understood this a little earlier; Let’s Play.