I never keen on sports. I never liked to do it or watch it. I think culture may be the key to this kind of habit. Maybe sports habit is an inherit from family, who knows? No surprise, I’m not a sports fan. I know the name of some teams and some players. That is all I have about it. You may ask that “why I’m writing a sports article?” Because I love fails and lessons, they taught about marketing.
According to the report, “Annual Review of Football Finance 2020, Deloitte,” the European football market is now worth some €28.4bn. According to new figures from Deloitte, the big five European leagues generated a record €15.6bn in revenue in 2017–18, a 6% annual increase. The market leader is England with €5.4bn.
Let’s talk about the revenues of the football clubs. Where they get money?
Football is not a sports branch only. It is an organized industry by FIFA & UEFA. These organizations manage championships and leagues for revenue and rule the sector using country associations. It is rather complicated. Clubs are companies, and they have investors. There are fans, but they are also customers. This fan group thinks they are the owner of the “football club.” At least we have government-supported leagues and national associations. Additionally, there are sponsors, broadcasting companies, and too much money.
As you can see from the stats, it is a huge industry worldwide. Did I mention too much money? If you are the owner of a company or invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a club, you want to maximize the profit. It seems that the idea of a new league was born with this motivation.
“The pandemic has shown that a strategic vision and a sustainable commercial approach are required to enhance value and support for the benefit of the entire European football pyramid. In recent months extensive dialogue has taken place with football stakeholders regarding the future format of European competitions. The Founding Clubs believe the solutions proposed following these talks do not solve fundamental issues, including the need to provide higher-quality matches and additional financial resources for the overall football pyramid.”
“The new annual tournament will provide significantly greater economic growth and support for European football via a long-term commitment to uncapped solidarity payments which will grow in line with league revenues. These solidarity payments will be substantially higher than those generated by the current European competition and are expected to be in excess of €10 billion during the course of the initial commitment period of the Clubs.”
After the announcement, all newspapers and televisions headlined “New European Super League established!”. A news storm blew up, and social media got mad. Everybody who ever knows about football heard the news, and I suppose they asked “Whaaaat?” Suddenly everybody started to talk about it. FIFA, UEFA, club managers, fans … You know the result. After three days of reaction, discussion, negotiation, the dream of “The European Super League” came to ruin. As a strategist, I have to ask myself, “why the dream failed?”, “What was I do, If I were CEO of the league?”
Wrong timing (I)
I’m not sure that they heard the covid pandemic. After a pandemic year, consumer behavior and reaction to the change are entirely different from the old days. Working conditions changed, home living changed, consumption changed. A small change or massive, it doesn’t matter. Today, I think nobody wants to change. Everybody needs stability in his/her life. We have a survival instinct, and we know we have to change. But you know, it is not easy. We lost control of our lives. We want to get to control back. When you heard something is changing about the football industry, you say “STOP” without thinking. You say, “STOP, everything is messy already.” Nobody cares about the football industry, and nobody cares about the revenues you will get.
Wrong timing (II)
There is a saying, “You can’t eat an elephant in one bite.” In this case, the news of a new league is the elephant. If you believe that revolutions happen in one day, you are wrong. Revolution moment is the tipping point. Until that point, people think, talk, and discuss the idea of revolution. People ask themselves, “Is it possible until the perception changing point? How will it be? If it happens, am I safe? What about risks?” Without the possibility of revolution or the idea bought by people, nothing happens.
When people opened the news and saw the new league’s headlines, they shocked. They asked, “Which idiot’s idea is that? Why?” When we see a new idea, we mostly react like that if we never heard of it. We are not good at managing uncertainty. Instead of dealing with this, we prefer the status quo. We need time to consume any idea. We can not eat it in one bite. Because of that, it was the wrong timing.
No sales value proposition
When you read the press release, what did you feel? Is there anything that sells this great idea? Did you read something like “Dear football fan, we have an idea which is very good for you. We did this, and now you will get that. You are fortunate because we established a new league?” Don’t judge me because of my poor value propositions. Please don’t assume that it is my fault. If you are writing a press release, you must tell the public the benefits. You have to explain what is new and why you did this? You must honestly say that “We established a league, and you will get this.” You can not sell anything without a sales value proposition.
It looked like when they were announcing the new league, they didn’t have a strategy. As an easy explanation, strategy is a way of going A to B. When you build a strategy, you always try to find the best way, optimum cost, minimum risk, and always tactics to be flexible. In this case, you have to convince associations, country leaders, club owners, footballers, and of course, football fans. You have to define who is your customer, who is your end-user. It would be best if you had tactics to exhaust every reaction you will get from these groups. You need press support, and you need opinion leaders on your side. It would help if you had a strategy to manage all of these. If you believe a business plan and a press release is enough, you’re mistaken, my friend. It looks like you never understand human behavior.
And finally, If I were the agency of Florentino Pérez, what would I do?
Give the problem and then the solution.
The first thing we do must be defining problems for others and clarify our solution. We must write down the issues we have. If there is no problem for fans, UEFA, or clubs, you have a solution that doesn’t have a problem. Maybe these groups didn’t notice the problems they have. You have to convince them to there is a problem. You have to frame the problem for them. After they believe there is a problem, you can say that “We have a new business/brand idea that will solve these problems. “
Now, you need a public debate which you framed. Opinion leaders, players, YouTubers, and fans must discuss the problems. Social media has a crucial role in this process. Don’t forget, everybody has an idea, and everybody loves attention. It would be best to increase the dose of these discussions by using influencers. The best way to use them is to encourage them to share radical ideas. The most critical point of this step is your frame. You have to draw borders for the problem, leading people to your solution. I know that is not easy, but I never promised you that it would be easy.
When people start to talk about the problem and the solution, they begin to build themselves again. Every word they say ties them to a group. Mainly two groups say “Yes” or “No” to your solution. Your job is to support and excite the “Yes Group.” If you can control the conversation, you only need time to exhaust the “No Group.” It will take time. You must be patient for that. Opinion leaders, influencers, players are helpful for this process. When you try to change something, there will always be a reaction. Be ready for that. It is not an obstacle. It is just a process. Keep going until the tipping point.
Wait until a tipping point or a chance for a quick win.
I know you are very excited to take action, but you must be sure that you exhausted most of the reactions. You have to wait until that public opinion is on your side. You can work with a research company to measure public opinion. In this case, it is not easy to measure it globally. But you can get collect insights from social media and the press. Who are with you? Is there any chance to ally? After these insights, I hope you can feel the right moment. There isn’t a specific rule for that, but if your marketing team is good to understand the market truly, you will have a chance to attack.
I know that this paragraph will show me too much opportunist, but someone must tell the truth. Bad things happen. Once Winston Churchill said, “Never waste a good crisis.” (blame Churchill, not me :) ). Sometimes a tragic event gives you a chance to take action occurs. A crisis moment for the industry? Bankrupt of a club? A broadcasting crisis? I don’t know, but you get the point. Sometimes, you can get a chance for a quick win in this kind of time.
Be a hero
If you waited enough and invest your marketing communication wisely, it is time to finish the story as a hero. Call your PR agency and tell them you need a press conference. It is time for an actual announcement. Well done, my friend, you shake the world!