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SoccerexPro (Print) - ISSN 2056-3604 Issue 8

Issue 8 |


Borussia Dortmund and the European push for expansion NASL STEPS OUT OF THE SHADOWS





SPORTS + RECREATION + ENTERTAINMENT CONTACT Chris Lamberth | | +44 (0)20 7636 2006





10 THE BIG PICTURE - Platini steps forward - Europe’s clubs go to market - Champions rise in the Americas

16 BEYOND THE TOUCHLINE As the digital realm and social media become a more central part of players’ lives, Himsworth Legal founder Matt Himsworth explains the risks of sharing personal information online.

18 FOOTBALL IN... GHANA After their run to the Africa Cup of Nations final earlier this year and a third consecutive Fifa World Cup finals appearance in 2014, SoccerexPro takes a closer look at the business of football in Ghana.


David Zalubowski/AP/Press Association Images

Street Soccer USA is a charity which has used football to reach 3,000 at-risk young people across North America, and in July took over New York’s Times Square. Founder Lawrence Cann reveals how he hopes the organisation can use sport to bring about real change.

22 REACHING OUT As European football reaches new markets around the world, more and more elite clubs and leagues are grasping the need for a coherent international strategy. The continent’s leading teams are aiming to make a meaningful impression through tours – and throughout the year.


34 STATE OF SOCCER Having sat in the shadow of Major League Soccer since its foundation in 2009, the North American Soccer League has struggled to break from the shackles of US Soccer’s second-tier designation. But with football growing across the region, the league will welcome two new teams – from Miami and Puerto Rico – in 2016. Commissioner Bill Peterson explains why he wants greater collaboration to develop the game in North America.

38 THE FINAL COUNTDOWN Preparations for the Uefa European Championship in France are continuing at each of the ten venues that will host Europe’s biggest football occasion in 2016.

44 PLATFORMS FOR CHANGE Innovation in venue design takes a whole range of forms. SoccerexPro looks at five grounds that have taken an intelligent approach to solving problems or creating new possibilities.

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48 HEAD OF THE FLEET The Uefa Champions League is among the most coveted tournaments in sport, not only for those who play in it but for the brands who want to associate with it. For first-time sponsor Nissan it was important to make a statement at this year’s final in Berlin.

52 A REAL REVOLUTION Real Madrid are perhaps the biggest team in the world, with a trophy-littered history which includes a record ten European titles, an estimated 450 million fans worldwide and a valuation of US$3.26 billion, according to a recent estimate by Forbes magazine. Now, the giants of the Spanish capital are planning a digital revolution to keep them at the top of the game.

55 THE UPDATE - The Score: Behind La Liga’s rights spree - Global news - Signings: football deals and appointments

70 REPLAY Figo shatters transfer record




t says much about our young century that a stock market crash in China can cause such consternation in countries far longer established as modern economic powers. The idea that the world·s Ànancial destiny is tied to the performance of the fastest-growing economy has long passed the point of accepted fact – it is now almost a cliché – but the effects of this new order are still to be fully understood. The reality of globalisation is something we all look set to learn about on the job. The same is true, in its own smaller way, in football. This game became the world’s favourite early in the 20th century, its simplicity infectious in a way other organised team codes could not match; its uncanny ability to energise crowds taking it past sports with origins in ancient pursuits. Yet it is only in the past generation that it has become the global language it is today, and only within the last two decades that commercialisation has forged an international industry. For organisations within the game, this has meant becoming more attuned than ever to what is going on in the world around them. The organisers of leagues and major tournaments may want to know, say, where competition between


broadcasters is Àercest – as it is here in the 8., where 6ky 6ports is Àghting off an insurgent BT Sport – or where a new force is making a telling move. Top clubs now need to know where there are new fans to reach out to, where sponsorship money is welling up, or where cultural sensitivity must be at its most reÀned. The details have always mattered. Professional teams have always explored means of securing a competitive advantage: fostering a winning culture and a bond between players, implementing new training methods and seeking tactical innovations, employing shrewder scouts to Ànd players no one else had spotted or coaches with a knack of encouraging young talent. Away dressing rooms could be built smaller, with harder benches and colder showers; teams who preferred to play the ball long might go for muddier pitches, or longer grass in the corners. But now, more than ever, the shape a football club is in matters far beyond the Àrst team. That much is explored in greater depth in these pages and it also bears considering the effect that a more Áuid footballing community has on those countries still discovering it. Leagues and associations trying to grow the game are left to decide

PHOTOGRAPHIC AGENCIES Action Images Press Association MANAGING DIRECTOR Nick Meacham

ART DIRECTOR Daniel Brown CONTRIBUTORS Michael Long, Mike Kennedy, Adam Nelson


BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGERS Jon Abraham, Bobby Hare, Sam Renshaw



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how avidly they embrace the dominant power making targets of their home fans. Their future could depend on it. Soccerex celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with the Global Convention in Manchester and it seems that so many of these questions are new, for clubs, for countries, and for all the companies that now make football their business. The fundamental questions, though, are still the same: how do we get people to watch, and to play, and to enjoy the biggest game on the planet?

Eoin Connolly Editor

SoccerexPro magazine is a joint venture between Soccerex and SportsPro Media. SportsPro Media Ltd 3rd Floor, America House, 2 America Square, London EC3N 2LU Tel: +44 (0) 207 549 3250 Email: Web: (SportsPro Media Ltd is part of the Henley Media Group Ltd

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SoccerexPro (Print) - ISSN 2056-3604 | SoccerexPro (Online) - ISSN 2056-3612 PRINTER: Buxton Press Limited NOTICE: SoccerexPro magazine is published quarterly. Printed in the EU. EDITORIAL COPYRIGHT: The contents of this magazine, both words and statistics, are strictly copyright and the intellectual property of SoccerexPro. Copying or reproduction may only be carried out with written permission of the publishers, which will normally not be withheld on payment of a fee. Article reprints: Most articles published in SoccerexPro magazine are available as reprints by prior arrangement from the publishers. Normal minimum print run for reprints is 400 copies, although larger and smaller runs are possible. Please contact us at:



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s I write this we are fast approaching the 20th anniversary edition of our Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester – indeed, some of you may be reading this at the event. Please forgive me an indulgence, therefore, in writing this quarter about nothing but football! The success of Soccerex, and indeed all businesses surrounding the football industry, always comes back to the same thing: the game, the players and the fans. I learned this as a young boy way back in 1964, when my father, Don, then manager of Leeds United, took me on to the Elland Road pitch. He and Leeds had just gained promotion from the old Àrst division and were about to embark upon a decade of unparalleled success, becoming one of, if not the best team in the world. I am sure you will forgive my slight bias… The ground then, however, was an absolute dump, as was the pitch. We stood in the centre circle, and my dad pointed around the stadium explaining how one day there would be executive boxes, hospitality, merchandising, and the matchday experience for fans would see them arriving at midday and staying until six that evening. That day in Leeds, it was hard for me to comprehend, looking at one end – for those of a certain vintage – to the ‘Scratching Shed’, and at the other an open-terraced kop. Two fairly dilapidated old stands were either side. Back then, fans arrived 20 minutes before kick-off and the ground was empty ten minutes after the Ànal whistle. The pitch was so tatty and muddy that you ruined your shoes walking to the centre circle but, again, my father said that pitches of the future would be like billiard tables all year round. Back at Elland Road then – not to mention on the mud heap that passed as Derby County’s pitch at the Baseball Ground – this was beyond my comprehension. Yet it came to pass. It is quite ironic that I Ànd myself CE2 of a company that provides a platform for all the businesses that now surround this great game. Dad’s words, however, are always ringing in 8 |

my ears and throughout the growth of Soccerex – from new and only kid on the block to unique and worldwide football business leader – those words became our mantra. It’s all about the football Àrst. It was the football, the players and the fans that provided the canvas for today’s incredible television coverage, initially begun by Sky and the advent of the Premier League. I cannot mention the Premier League without a large nod of appreciation to one of its main architects and a great Soccerex friend, David Dein. Through Fifa’s good ofÀces – yes, a good word about Fifa – the sheer joy, exuberance, and nerve-jangling drama of football was spread with the aid of television to every corner of the globe. We now have a truly wonderful international product, of which everyone can be proud. A word about the fans. From the dark days of hooliganism and with improved facilities and a family-friendly atmosphere, the game is now an all-embracing entertainment. I am sure, however, that many of the ladies attending in great numbers are equally as impressed by the physique and athleticism of the players as their ability to Ànd a telling pass. Apologies in advance if that is not politically correct, it is meant to be tongue in cheek! I don’t think enough praise can be heaped on the fans for embracing the newly styled entertainment surrounding the game in such numbers and with such good behaviour, whilst at the same time reaching the peaks of frenzied excitement and partisanship which only supporting your club or country can bring. Finally, but in my view Àrst and foremost, the players. Soccerex has been graced with some of the world’s greatest. I know the top stars earn exorbitant salaries but we live in a supply and demand marketplace and, despite the goldÀshbowl attention, the professionalism of the vast majority of today’s players is only let down by a very few. Hundreds of players have joined us at Soccerex over the past 20 years. Who can forget the sheer quality of the three knights of the realm Stanley Matthews,

Tom Finney and Bobby Charlton? We’ve had the majesty of Franz Beckenbauer, the rapier thrust of Denis Law, the Gallic Áair of Eric Cantona, the great Eusebio. The mesmerizing Jairzinho, Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’, the super-skilful Jay-Jay 2kocha, and the small midÀeld genius of 2ssie Ardiles. Locks aplenty, from Ruud Gullit, to Carlos Valderamma, with Romario, Zico, Ronaldo and Neymar reminding us of what a beautiful game this really is. To all who work in our industry, raise a glass and toast how lucky we are. Great steps forward and a great game. There is still a bit of me, however, that romanticises our Leeds v Derby clashes at the Baseball Ground. Clough versus Revie. Vying for the championship, two foot of mud, when a tackle was a tackle. Ah, those Àrst ten minutes! They were great days and I do remember them with fondness as well. Love & Kisses Duncan.


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efa president Michel Platini has confirmed that he will run for the presidency of Fifa in 2016. The 60-year-old Frenchman, who has led the European confederation since 2007, is the likely frontrunner in the race. The start of another presidential campaign was signalled in July by outgoing Fifa figurehead Sepp Blatter (1), who announced that the executive committee had chosen 26th February as the date his successor would be elected. At this stage, Platini’s highest-profile opponent is South Korea’s Chung JungMoon (2), the billionaire son of Hyundai founder Chung Ju-Yun and former head of his country’s football association. Jordan Football Association president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein (3), who was defeated by Blatter in May’s presidential election before the Swiss chose to step down, has yet to confirm if he will stand again but has said he believes Platini is “not the right man” to take charge of the world game. Elsewhere at Fifa, the former International Olympic Committee director general François Carrard (4) has been appointed to lead a new 15-strong Fifa taskforce on reform. He will be joined by representatives of each confederation and of Fifa’s partners.







he top teams in European football had another busy summer as they spent millions on new signings ahead of the 2015/16 season. As the transfer window neared its close at the end of August, Manchester City had made the biggest splash by spending UK£49 million to bring Raheem Sterling in from Premier League rivals Liverpool. At just 20, the winger became the most expensive English player ever. In Spain, European champions Barcelona confirmed the signing of Arda Turan (1) from Atlético Madrid, even though the Turkish midfielder cannot play until January as his new employers complete a transfer ban. Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich brought in Chile’s Arturo Vidal (2) from Italian counterparts Juventus, who signed a German, Sami Khedira, to replace him. Manchester United also spent heavily on the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin, Sebastian Schweinsteiger and Matteo Darmian (3) as last year’s record signing, Angel Di Maria, moved to PSG. Elsewhere in the Premier League, goalkeeper Petr Cech (4) left champions Chelsea for Arsenal. As ever, the latest trends in the transfer market will be covered in the Soccerex Transfer Review by Prime Time Sport.


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Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport



SOCCEREXPRO | 13 Nigel French/EMPICS Sport




fter a build-up tainted by the arrest of leading Concacaf and Conmebol officials, as well as key marketing executives, earlier this year, the national teams of the Americas took to the field for their championships in June and July. Chile became champions of South America with victory in the Copa América. The hosts drew 0-0 with favourites Argentina at the capital’s Estadio Nacional on 4th July. Star man Alexis Sanchez struck the winning kick in a 4-1 penalty shootout win as his team lifted the trophy (1) for the first time. The result meant more disappointment for Lionel Messi (2) after defeat in last year’s Fifa World Cup final. The Barcelona man had been the only Argentinian to convert a penalty in the shootout. The sympathy of Chilean fans was limited, however, as they took to the streets of Santiago (3) in celebration. Mexico, meanwhile, were confirmed as champions of North and Central America yet again as they won the Concacaf Gold Cup for a tenth time (4). They beat surprise finalists Jamaica – who had also guested in the Copa América – 3-1 in Philadelphia on 26th July.


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BEYOND THE TOUCHLINE As the digital realm and social media become a more central part of players’ lives, Himsworth Legal founder Matt Himsworth explains the risks of sharing personal information online.


ecently a client of ours was surprised when, during a business dispute, a rival sent a debt collector to his family home, which troubled his wife and young child. Unethical? Yes. Avoidable? Almost certainly. You might ask how this happened, when our client had not shared his home address with his rival. It happened because, whether our client knew it or not, his address was available on public databases as his details were published on the UK’s Edited Electoral Roll – which exists in most countries. He had also registered as a company director using his home address, so it was listed on Companies House. As a society, we have dived headlong into an age where vast quantities of information are readily available. Savvy individuals are now realising that careful planning can help avoid the kind of security and privacy issues that our client experienced in the long term. With this in mind, where are individuals often vulnerable online? And what should we do?

1. Private Information. Having your home address online is one of the most concerning issues. If you Ànd an online directory, such as in the UK, and type in your name, then there is a good chance your address will pop up – particularly if you are on the Edited Electoral Roll. This entry can contain information such as your house’s latest purchase price and planning applications, which then leads seamlessly to Google Images: a burglar’s blueprint. This can easily be resolved, often by contacting local authorities and getting the entry taken off such databases. The problem is that most people do not know it is there in the Àrst place. We always advise clients to do their homework. 16 |

2. Social Media. In an online environment that feels secure, it is easy to over-share and disclose apparently innocuous information that is actually personal and revealing. This mistake can be made by anyone, from young teenagers to adult professionals. It can also be made by their families, as former MI6 boss Sir John Sawers discovered when his wife posted details about the couple’s children, home and friends, including photographs, before his prestigious appointment. This was discovered and Áagged up by The Mail on Sunday, much to Sir John’s embarrassment. In the UK, the recently launched iRights campaign aims to protect the privacy and identities of children and young people online, and ensure they understand how others may use the data they upload. However, there are already many proactive things that can be done to remove content. For example, issuing copyright takedowns where material that you own the rights to – such as personal photos – is shared without your permission. Takedown requests are effective across jurisdictions. A young sportsman for whom we recently acted had taken nude photos of himself, which he sent via SnapChat to an individual who uploaded them to a popular blogging platform. Although the sportsman himself was based in the UK, where local copyright law would have been the obvious tool, it was far more effective to issue a US law Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown against the US-based website in question. Prevention is better than cure. We deliver education sessions to the academies and Àrst teams of top football, rugby and cricket clubs. The key is to have honest and constructive conversations with the ‘digital native’ generation, preparing them for the risks inherent in the online world. From a survey we conducted into the

social media habits of young sportsmen and women, we discovered that the landscape of social media amongst that generation is changing. Facebook has been overtaken by Instagram and Twitter. Almost all of the players also used SnapChat, with the majority of male players sending pictures to girls on the app and almost half of the players admitting to sending messages to people they did not know. Since pictures supposedly disappear on SnapChat within seconds, it is easy to think that the app is harmless. However, several third-party applications can permanently download a user’s images without them being any the wiser. 3. Individual Branding. Nowadays, your online footprint is part and parcel of your reputation. Everyone from friends and family to fans, sponsors and employers can Ànd you online. Despite this, our survey revealed that none of the players had considered using their social media to create a public brand for themselves. Instead, they focused on communicating with their friends, posting updates about their sporting careers, and ‘banter’. Considering the audience you can gain online, the effects of someone hacking into your accounts or impersonating you can have wide-reaching consequences. Another client of ours fell out with his business partner, who went on to set up .com website domains and social media pages in his name in order to defame and attack him. Although our client was entitled to – and did – take legal action for libel and harassment, having a defensive online strategy in the Àrst place would have been a huge help. He may not have wanted to actively use domains or social media sites, but by defensively ‘squatting’ on domain names and pages in his and his company’s names, he would have thwarted the attack.

Jade Jones, GB Taekwondo, Olympic Champion Women’s 57kg Shot taken at Albert Hall Manchester

World-class venues for sport and culture, and an incredible sporting history.

To bring your event to Manchester, contact


GHANA After their run to the Africa Cup of Nations final earlier this year and a third consecutive Fifa World Cup finals appearance in 2014, SoccerexPro takes a closer look at the business of football in Ghana.


fter becoming the Àrst African nation to win independence, Ghana also became the Àrst independent African country to establish a football league. The Ghana Premier League replaced the erstwhile Gold Coast Club Competition, as it had been known under Britain’s colonial rule, in 19. The Gold Coast Club Competition itself evolved out of the Accra Football League, which had been established by Sir Gordon Guggisberg, the governor of the Gold Coast, in the early 1920s. 2f the  titles to have been contested since independence, 42 have been won by either Accra-based Hearts of 2ak or Asante Kotoko, from Kumasi in the autonomous Ashanti Region. Eight other clubs have shared out the remaining 11 trophies between them. Ghana’s football season generally follows that of Europe – commencing in September and running until the spring of the following year – but the 20141 season is still ongoing at the

time of writing. Its start was delayed until February of this year amid a legal battle between Kumasi-based club King Faisal and the league. Ghana’s national team are known as the Black Stars, and are one of the most successful in African history. They have won the Africa Cup of Nations four times, and Ànished runners-up in the competition on a further Àve occasions. Additionally, in 2010 they became only the third African side to reach the quarter-Ànals of the Fifa World Cup, where they were denied the chance to become the Àrst ever African semi-Ànalists by a last-minute goal-line handball from Uruguay’s Luis Suirez. Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting spot-kick, and Uruguay prevailed in the penalty shootout that followed. The Black Stars’ female counterparts are known as the Black 4ueens. Women’s football in the country is among the most developed in Africa, and a Women’s Football League tournament was founded in 2012. Due to the logistical

challenges of operating an amateur women’s league in the country, the competition is divided geographically into two round-robin tournaments, with the winners of each playing one another to decide the overall title-winner. In 1999, the Black 4ueens became the Àrst ever African women’s side to compete at a Fifa Women’s World Cup. Abedi Ayew, commonly known as Abedi ‘Pelé’ after the Brazilian legend, is widely considered Ghana’s brightest ever star, and one of the greatest African players of all time. In 199, he won the Uefa Champions League with French side 2lympique de Marseille. The Black Stars’ current captain, most capped player and all-time record goalscorer is the aforementioned Gyan, the former Sunderland striker who now plays for Chinese Super League team Shanghai SIPG. Gyan is also the highestscoring African player ever in World Cup Ànals, with six goals across three tournaments, having overtaken Roger Milla’s record at last year’s edition in Brazil.

First Capital Plus Bank Premier League club


Stadium (capacity)

2014 finish

Aduana Stars


Agyeman Badu Stadium (5,000)


All Stars


Wa Sports Stadium (5,000)


Asante Kotoko


Baba Yara Stadium (40,500)


Ashanti Gold


Len Clay Stadium (30,000)




Nana Gyeabour’s Park (5,000)


Berekum Chelsea


Coronation Park (10,000)


Brong Ahafo Stars


Baba Yara Stadium (40,500)

1st in Ghana Football League Division 1

Great Olympics


Ohene Djan Stadium (40,000)

2nd in Ghana Football League Division 1

Heart of Lions


Kpando Stadium (5,000)


Hearts of Oak


Ohene Djan Stadium (40,000)


International Allies


Tema Sports Stadium (5,000)


Liberty Professionals


Dansoman Park (2,000)


Medeama SC


TNA Park (12,000)


New Edubiase United


Len Clay Stadium (30,000)


Sekondi Hasaacas F.C.


Sekondi-Takoradi Stadium (20,000)


West African Football Academy


Sogakope Stadium (1,000)

3rd in Ghana Football League Division 1

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Asamoah Gyan (left) is Ghana’s captain, top scorer and most capped player, as well as the highest-scoring African player ever in World Cup finals



The GFA and the Black Stars have held a sponsorship and kit supply deal with German sportswear brand Puma since 2005, which was renewed in a ‘long-term’ deal on the eve of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations. That agreement is thought to be worth up to US$3 million per year to the Ghanaian national team. The Ghana Premier League’s naming rights were sold to Ghanaian financial firm First Capital Plus Bank in February 2014, midway through the season, after the previous sponsor, Nigeria-based telecoms firm Globacom Limited, did not have its contract renewed at the end of 2012/13. First Capital’s financial commitment amounts to US$10 million over five years. Meanwhile Ghana’s National Division One League, the country’s second tier, is also sponsored by a financial institution, the Accra-based GN Bank. Sponsorship of individual clubs has become more prevalent in recent seasons, with companies such as EA Sports, Nike and MTN investing in Ghanaian teams.

Unusually, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) was awarded a licence from the National Communications Authority of the Republic of Ghana in 2013 to operate its own television channel, GFA TV, which airs news and highlights from the Premier League, the Ghana FA Cup and Black Stars matches. GFA TV also operates an online channel for similar content. The full rights for both league and cup are owned by South African broadcaster SuperSport, which is thought to have paid around US$1.05 million for a three-year deal in 2013. In January of this year, state-operated Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) paid US$1.25 million for the rights to air that month’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament. This amount was subsidised by the Ghanaian government in order to ensure that the competition – which the Black Stars entered as one of the favourites before eventually losing on penalties in the final – was available on free-to-air television.



TAKING IT TO THE STREETS Street Soccer USA is a charity which has used football to reach 3,000 at-risk young people across North America, and in July took over New York’s Times Square. Founder Lawrence Cann tells Eoin Connolly how he hopes the organisation can use sport to bring about real change.

Lawrence Cann is the founder and chief executive of Street Soccer USA


awrence Cann knows Àrst-hand the positive impact that football can have on a young life. When he was nine years old, growing up in North Carolina, his family home burned down. At that challenging time, he recalls, the local football team he was a part of came to the fore. His coach would collect him for practice, and give him new responsibilities. It gave him an opportunity to learn new lessons. ´I felt very supported by that network,¾ he says. Football would remain near the centre of Cann’s life for years to come, and he would go on to play at NCAA Division 1 level in college. It was not until later, however, than he began to realise how he put the lessons of that childhood experience into action. As a young adult, he began volunteering at a homeless service centre in Charlotte. ´I didn’t want to make sandwiches or do typical volunteer work,¾ he says. ´I was really interested in people. So I organised community art projects, community gardens, and started doing all kinds of projects – we worked with brickmasons to build steps up to the soup kitchen as an alternative entrance, this kind of thing.

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Street Soccer USA is the ofďŹ cial charity partner of the New York Cosmos

2rganising activities and getting to know people through those activities. That was on a volunteer basis.Âľ That was the beginning of a journey that would see him named one of People magazine’s ‘Heroes Among Us’ in 2009, with further honours to follow. Cann decided to make reaching out to homeless and vulnerable people his life’s work. In 2002 he founded Community Works 94, an organisation which developed schemes with trust at their core. ´And as I saw more of these young adults on the streets,Âľ he explains, ´I had a big soccer background, and it seemed like team sports was an obvious way to access all their energy and potential and give them some accountability, something to belong to. So we started a soccer programme and just had amazing attendance and engagement.Âľ The result of that, in time, would be Street Soccer USA, a charity which now serves ,000 young homeless and vulnerable young people in urban areas across the US. Cann heads up the charity with his brother, Rob. ´We really initially focused on 1 to 24-year-old group and then regressed by a couple of years in addition, and started looking at it on the youth side,Âľ says Cann. ´It’s a very

misunderstood community that’s under a lot of stress, and lacks options in terms of activities. So we were providing that in a way that was not only free but also servicing their needs – not just to feel good and play sports every week, but also to try and get across the tools that they could use in life, and sport is a great mechanism for that.¾ Inspired in part by the Homeless World Cup, the project seeks to empower its participants and teach them core life skills that help them to better their situation for good. The programme focuses on eight key lessons that can be learned on the football pitch, and provides additional support to put those lessons into practice. ´When you’re not sure how to navigate your own life,¾ Cann says, ´when you’re not sure what to do, you refer back to those skills you learned on the soccer Àeld and you talk through how to relate them to your own life.¾ Alongside these schemes, which now operate in 16 American cities, Street Soccer USA is working to provide playing areas in underserved communities across the land. Its funding comes from a number of sources but with participation costing US100 per participant per year,

the organisation is also keen to stress the opportunities for commercial backers to receive a return on their investment through media exposure and other outlets – and to get forgotten citizens into the workplace. Cann now holds an MBA from New York’s Columbia University and aims to put that background into expanding the Street Soccer USA operation. Street Soccer USA has a number of other partnerships in place with other organisations – it is an afÀliate, for example, of leading homeless charity and housing provider Help USA, and it works alongside Street Football World and organises the US team for the Homeless World Cup. It has also established programmes such as the Lady Salamander Women’s Initiative for low-income and homeless young women and girls. Partnerships are fundamental to Street Soccer USA given that, as Cann explains, ´we don’t operate independently anywhere – we’re always part of existing groupsµ. Yet that, as he sees it, plays to the organisation’s strengths as a sporting programme built ´inside outµ, with a strong social services ethic. ´What we need, and what our participants need, is a good health sector, good education, to meet with schools, and try to build their employment relationships,µ he says. ´That’s actually pretty easy to do and I think that’s our advantage – we’re a soccer organisation and we attract more people from a soccer background, but at the end of the day while other people probably do the soccer better than us, our speciality is the service side. We’ve come from that perspective so with our social service partners, I understand where they’re coming from and how they operate.µ There is also considerable support growing for the project from within the football community. 22 Major League Soccer players have served as ambassadors for the charity, including US internationals like Brek Shea of 2rlando City and Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes. Further aÀeld, Blackpool’s Barbadian defender Emmerson Boyce has also got behind Street Soccer USA programmes. Pelé accepted an award from the organisation in 201. In February, Street Soccer USA became the ofÀcial charity partner of North American Soccer League team New York Cosmos, whose players

The charity runs an annual mixed-gender four-a-side football tournament in New York’s Times Square

wear the organisation’s logo on their sleeves during matches as part of a bid to raise awareness. But perhaps the most substantial promotional exercise for Street Soccer USA came earlier this summer, also in New York. 2n 12th July the programme took over the centre of the biggest city in the US for the third annual Times Square Cup. 2 mixed-gender four-a-side teams from across the continent took part, with tens of thousands passing by to watch the action. Youth teams from Street Soccer USA programmes were also involved, along with adult homeless teams and corporate entries. ´For us, it’s a big, iconic statement,µ says Cann. ´You play a soccer tournament in Times Square – no one else can play a tournament in that space. You put the event and the organisation on a platform which says, ‘Hey, this is possible,’ to our participants. They feel connected to something special and it energises everybody – our staff enjoy working on it, it helps us build our network of volunteers out, it gives some of our sponsors a chance to highlight their work, and the soccer itself is fun. ´The games were unbelievable,µ he adds. ´We Ànished at nine o’clock at night. This team from Jamaica played this team sponsored by GFI, a trading company, and the level of soccer was just phenomenally high. Every few minutes the billboards would change colour and one minute you would have a blue glare on the Àeld and the next minute you would have a red glare, and visually it was just fun. Fun, fun exciting event. In the Ànal game there was something like 1

goals. Real blast. Big crowds.µ As well as raising funds and awareness for Street Soccer USA, the event served as a rare chance to bring together the organisation’s volunteers and staff in one place. ´It allows us to come together and be together on one day,µ says Cann, ´and celebrate our culture and connect.µ A similar event took place outside San Francisco’s Civic Center on 1th and 16th August as part of the Street Soccer USA Cup Series. ´2ur vision is that these programmes can be earned and learned by the members of the communities themselves,µ says Cann of his vision for the long-term future of Street Soccer USA. His ambition is that the organisation can Àll out its regional hubs and expand to new cities throughout the US, becoming a trusted institution for young people along the lines of the Scouts. ´We’re trying to build an organisation that can last 100 years and reach out across the country,µ he adds. Internationally, Street Soccer USA has already begun ´sharing knowledge with other groupsµ in its sector and Cann is able to see a time when it can spread to other countries. ´We’ve had a couple of opportunities elsewhere and at least one of them looks like it’s going to happen,µ he reveals, ´as long as we’re not duplicating what’s already there.µ Whatever the future holds for Street Soccer USA, its founder holds true to his belief in its underlying principles. ´In terms of where we’re headed,µ he says, ´we really see sport as a primary tool for addressing these social challenges, a really efÀcient tool, so we want to get that formula down.µ SOCCEREXPRO | 21

REACHING OUT As European football reaches new markets around the world, more and more elite clubs and leagues are grasping the need for a coherent international strategy. Eoin Connolly finds out more about what teams are doing through their tours – and throughout the year.


ootball is the world’s game; it stands to reason that it has been the sport most profoundly affected by globalisation. For clubs in South America and, in particular, in Europe, the idea that they might have supporters many hundreds of miles beyond their home stadiums is not a new one. Once, the effects of that were accidental and incidental: a Manchester United fan in some distant land watching TV coverage thrown out as an afterthought, or sporting a replica shirt, possibly a genuine one, with a compatriot’s name on the back. Years before that, a romantic attachment might have been formed from a newspaper cutting or a radio report. Today, nothing is left to chance. United themselves have parlayed their fame into pioneering the regional partnership – remorselessly exploiting every sector of every sponsorship market in the interests of Ànancial gain and brand ubiquity. Elsewhere, the inÁux of international capital has created its own new dynamics. French champions Paris Saint-Germain’s owners grant admission to Qatar’s burgeoning sports empire. When Angel Di Maria was signed in August, PSG made the announcement from the Middle East, where the Argentinian was completing his medical at the Aspetar sports medicine facility in Doha. Manchester City, meanwhile, are at the hub of an international network of teams – featuring Major League Soccer (MLS) newcomers New York City FC, A-League side Melbourne City FC and the J-League’s Yokohama F

22 |

Marinos – as part of the Abu Dhabibacked City Football Group. Not every top club has access to such infrastructure but the need to penetrate international markets has become more pressing for them all. This year German club Borussia Dortmund were one of dozens of sides to travel thousands of miles for appearances in distant, but increasingly vital, overseas territories. Their pre-season tour took in Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. Dortmund are Uefa Champions League regulars – Ànalists in 201 and champions in 199 – even if this year they must slum it in the Europa League. Yet diligence is essential for clubs like them, respected and renowned back home but the equivalent of ‘challenger brands’ in these new environments. “In Asia, especially here in southeast Asia, it’s a popularity contest,” concedes Suresh Letchmanan, the chief representative and head of Asia for Borussia Dortmund. “The likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool are extremely popular and very well supported. And of course, the Premier League had done their homework well in terms of marketing and promoting their clubs and the league well here. So that was one of the reasons why we were determined to see success on the pitch which then replicates success and popularity off the pitch. “We are a relatively new team coming to Asia in terms of marketing and promoting the club’s brand unlike some of the Premier League clubs that are already established here in Asia. However

Borussia Dortmund captain Mats Hummels signs a Germany shirt for a fan in Singapore


Borussia Dortmund during an evening training session in Singapore, where Letchmanan hopes to establish a regular base for the team

that did not stop us from reaching out to our fans, partners and the media. It’s about developing relationships.” To further their ambitions in the region, Dortmund established an ofÀce in Singapore last October, with Letchmanan at its head. The move followed Bundesliga rivals’ Bayern Munich’s inauguration of a branch in New York. The “challenging” early stages of the project have yielded to a “fruitful and exciting” period over the last few months, Letchmanan attests. While the ofÀce is based in Singapore, its inÁuence extends throughout the continent. “It’s just that Evonik’s Asian ofÀce is based in Singapore,” explains Letchmanan, “so it makes sense for us to have close proximity to our existing partners. The Puma south-east Asian head ofÀce is also in Singapore, and those are the two important partners that we have. The Bundesliga Asia ofÀce is also in Singapore. Hence, it wasn’t necessarily that it’s just Singapore we were looking at, it’s just that the location in Singapore is important to us so that we can embark into other markets within the region and develop further relationships.” The presence of Letchmanan and his team on the ground has given Borussia Dortmund a deeper insight into just how popular they are across Asia. “There’s about 20,000 fans in Vietnam that I didn’t know of,” Letchmanan says. “When I visited Vietnam, I had 1, 16 24 |

fans coming just to say hi to me. ‘Finally, we’ve got someone from the club.’ It’s a touch and feel for them. “We’ve got ,000 fans in Thailand, and these may not necessarily be ofÀcial fan clubs but fans that have been following the club for a number of years. And to hear their stories about the club, to hear their sentiments towards the club, to hear about their connections to the club, you’re like: ‘Wow. I never expected some of these guys to have been in a relationship with the club for many years.’” Letchmanan describes Asia as a “football-crazy region” but the sport’s burgeoning appeal here is only one factor inspiring European enthusiasm. The other is a matter of sheer scale. “Just look at Indonesia as a country,” says Letchmanan, “where you have 260 million people, so there’s a huge population for you to work on from just for one country. Then you have the other parts of south-east Asia; you also have India, you also have China. So you think and you feel that football is growing. I mean, India is another market where football is slowly reaching its heights apart from the likes of cricket and tennis and some of the other sports. Likewise for China: basketball is a huge sport but you can see there’s so much interest for football in the market. And we felt that this is the best time to go in.” Dortmund did not go in alone. The presence of a Bundesliga ofÀce in

Singapore, Letchmanan admits, is highly important, and both parties beneÀt from that proximity. “There are activities where the Bundesliga are working towards in terms of going out there to extend its presence, and of course with Dortmund being in Asia if there’s a need for support for a Bundesliga club, we will be there to support them for sure,” he says. Still, German clubs are competing not only for the attention of local supporters across the continent, but of local governments and businesses. In recent years the organising body of Spain’s top divisions, the LFP, has been marshalling an attempt to match the international TV rights income of England’s Premier League. The strategy began with a rearrangement of the top Áight’s weekend schedule, with Àxtures staggered throughout each round of the season so that matches could be pitched in prime time to different territories around the world. After that came the LFP World Challenge Tour, which sends top-tier Spanish clubs – other than heavyweights Real Madrid and Barcelona – to countries in different continents, playing games that are backed up by trade missions. Then, to coincide with a change to a collectivised rights sales model, the league and marketing partner Mediapro launched the La Liga brand, using the term by which the competition has long been popularly known.

Senior La Liga Àgures have been in China this summer Ànalising deals with broadcast partners CCTV and PPTV, and setting up a long-term partnership with the Chinese government which will deliver 40 Spanish coaches to the country and ensure the league’s clubs return each year. Several of its clubs were in China, too, with 2014 champions Atlético Madrid foremost among them. The Spanish capital’s other team have been behind some of the more interesting branding initiatives across Asia. Their shirt sponsorship deal with the Azeri tourist board, also used to promote the Baku 201 European Games before its expiry earlier this year, opened up the centre of the continent – though it also drew criticism from those frustrated at Azerbaijan’s use of sport to whitewash its international reputation. A longerterm and potentially more substantial partnership is in place with Atlético de Kolkata, the winners of the inaugural Indian Super League last year in whom the Spanish club own a stake. Wherever any footballing organisation goes in the world, however, it is likely that England’s Premier League has already left its trace. India is no different: last season, Barclays Premier League Live brought 20,000 fans out to watch games on big screens at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority Grounds at Bandra Kurla Complex, where they could also meet former players and have pictures taken with a replica of the league trophy. The league’s only licensed competition

Suresh Letchmanan (right) with BVB CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke and marketing chief Carsten Cramer

“When I visited Vietnam, I had 15, 16 fans coming just to say hi to me. ‘Finally, we’ve got someone from the club.’” outside England takes place in southeast Asia, albeit under the auspices of its longstanding title sponsor. The Premier League Asia Trophy, or Barclays Asia Trophy, has been held every two years since 200, passing through Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, and alighting upon the Singapore Sports Hub in 201. The competition typically features three

Japan star Shinji Kagawa’s popularity in Asia is a significant promotional asset for Dortmund

Premier League sides and one local team, with this summer’s quartet being Everton, Stoke City, eventual winners Arsenal and a Singapore Select XI. The Asia Trophy is a neat execution of Premier League soft power but with Barclays’ sponsorship set to expire at the end of the current season, it is not clear where the funding will come from for subsequent editions. As Premier League head of partnerships Tom Greenwood explains, the capacity of the organisation is not the same as that of the US sports leviathans to which it is increasingly compared. “You will know from various bits of what has been going on in recent years,” he says, “we’re very conscious of the global nature of the Premier League. But we are quite a small organisation and we have certain priorities, and you can’t just go from doing nothing to doing what the NBA [National Basketball Association] are doing all around the world in every single market doing lots of different events.” That said, the league would expect to continue Asia Trophy-type activities in some form when it reverts to a ‘clean’ brand next year – something which Greenwood also believes will deliver greater commercial revenue overall. SOCCEREXPRO | 25

Manchester City line up against Real Madrid in Melbourne for the International Champions Cup

“Ultimately we are working through that strategy at the moment,â€? he reveals. “What else can we do abroad? How do we fund it? That is one that the clubs will need to agree. If we have got a strategic view, they need to agree with it and sign off the budget because they are quite costly events to put on. I don’t see us doing any less, and in fact we would hope to do a lot more but it is something we are working through at the moment.â€? Everywhere, there is evidence that European football is globalising between seasons. Perhaps the highest-proĂ€le independently organised pre-season tournament – effectively a loosely tied series of friendlies – is the International Champions Cup, which is backed by the Stephen Ross and Matt Higgins-owned Relevant Sports and has operated in North America since 201. The competition grew out of the World Football Challenge, which largely pitted European guests against teams from MLS. It has since evolved to feature more international sides – partly as MLS has grown more competitive, but mostly to incorporate the wider cabal of clubs for whom intercontinental tours have become an annual Ă€xture. In 2014 a US record crowd of 109,1 watched Manchester United take on Real Madrid in Michigan. This year, for the Ă€rst time, the International Champions Cup expanded to Australia and China. The appeal of such games to local organisers was conĂ€rmed when the Victorian state government underwrote a threeyear deal, said to be worth AUS10 million (US110 million), for further International Champions Cup matches 26 |

to be played at the 100,000-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground. Sydney had reportedly been seeking to take Melbourne’s place. Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur were not among those invited to participate in this year’s tournament but the Londoners did Ă€nd themselves in the US and Australia, as well as Malaysia, in a twopart off-season adventure in 201. First came a post-season tour – a practice that has made a comeback in the past two years, rising alongside the mid-season tour, as clubs seek to maximise their international exposure – in the eastern markets in late May, before a pre-season trip to the US to play the MLS All-Stars in Denver. “We know where we are popular and where we would like to be more popular so we target those key markets,â€? says Tottenham Hotspur executive director Donna-Maria Cullen, giving an overview of the club’s international activities. “Our sponsor AIA gives us a huge foot in the door to grow our brand in Asia, so that’s why we work in partnership with them at the moment. But what we always look to do when we go to any country is to make sure that we operate at as many different levels as possible.â€? Spurs are also set to try to generate US interest in a unique and profound way. In early July, the club announced a ten-year deal with the National Football League (NFL) which will see their new 61,000-seater home, currently in development, play host to regular-season gridiron games from 201. The stadium itself, part of the Northumberland Development Project rising in the area around Spurs’ current White Hart Lane

home, is also an international beacon for the club: a multi-purpose facility that could transform their commercial fortunes and create a landmark in the mould of Wembley Stadium or, indeed, the Emirates Stadium home of bitter north London rivals Arsenal. The games will be a twice-annual showcase for Tottenham and the new venue – designed to spec for the NFL by Populous, with a retractable grass pitch yielding to artiĂ€cial turf and suitable sightlines throughout – to a mass audience that may not tune in to watch Premier League games. “I smile because we are starting to get NFL over this side and the Americans are starting to get the EPL [Premier League] over on their side,â€? says Cullen. “So it’s almost like we’re switching an interest in sport and being able to engage with both. So again that’s hugely exciting for the club and that’s received coverage across every US state given the spread of NFL teams across the country.â€? The exact effects of Tottenham playing host to the NFL can only really be speculated upon at this point, but Cullen is in no doubt about the signiĂ€cance of English football’s break for the mainstream in the US since NBC secured the rights to the Premier League in 2012. “NBC coverage has really opened up the US market for all Premier League clubs,â€? she reports. “We are doing extremely well there at the moment in terms of having fans engaged with us and the growth numbers that we’re seeing.â€? The performance of the Premier League on American television has been just as pleasing for NBC, which is reported to have committed around US1 billion to a six-year renewal of its rights deal. But while global television exposure creates an enormous potential new audience, that is no guarantee that new supporters will be drawn to any individual team. For clubs in Europe,

Arsenal FC players after their Asia Trophy win

then, Ànding a hook is always useful and for the casual fan, the sight of a local player can be as good enough reason as any to root for one side over another. The days of European clubs resorting to tokenistic signings in the hope of expanding their merchandising base may be long gone but, when an interesting international asset is on their books, it pays to take advantage. Last summer, Tottenham signed American prospect DeAndre Yedlin, who turned in a series of promising performances for the US at the Fifa World Cup in Brazil. The 22-year-old right-back, who joined from Seattle Sounders, was a major talking point during Spurs’ tour of the US and continues to generate column inches as he seeks a place in the team’s starting XI. Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa made a telling contribution to Dortmund’s Bundesliga title wins in 2011 and 2012, becoming a crowd favourite at the Westfalenstadion in the process. He subsequently signed for Manchester United but was back in Germany last summer; Letchmanan compares his second transfer to BVB to the “return of the prodigal son”. As popular as Kagawa is in North Rhine-Westphalia, his image carries even greater currency closer to home. “You can see when Shinji’s in Asia, the amount of fans – regardless of whether you’re a United, Liverpool, or Chelsea fan, he is the face of Asia,” Letchmanan says. “And he represents Asia for the club when he comes here. People would like to have a meet and greet session with him, people would like to take their picture with him. And apart from him being a representative of Asia, if I may say, he’s a quality player. We can see the success that he’s had on the pitch as well, and it’s important for the club to have players like him staying in the club.” Former players are also a common link between clubs and their far-Áung fans during the season, and are pressed ever more frequently into service at ofÀcial functions or sponsors’ events. For the biggest, most successful teams, there might be a few ranks of starred veterans to choose from, and the likes of Dortmund and Tottenham can also make some shrewd call-ups. Karl-Heinz Riedle was responsible for the greatest moment in Borussia Dortmund’s history, scoring twice as they beat Juventus -1 in the 199 Uefa 28 |

Tottenham Hotspur in action against the MLS All-Stars as part of their pre-season tour in 2015

Champions League Ànal, but he brings further name recognition as a former Liverpool striker and a Fifa World Cup winner with West Germany in 1990. Tottenham, meanwhile, can call upon long-serving American goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who brings credibility and gravitas to their events in the US throughout the year. Just as signiÀcant, however, is the work that clubs do with players at the opposite end of the scale. OfÀcial coaching programmes are now a key means of reaching new supporters, as well as applying a coat of CSR gloss. “For example, what we’ve done in the States in 2014 and we also did in Australia is our global coaching guys go out at least a week before the Àrst team travel, so they have already done a lot of grassroots football,” explains Cullen, who adds that Tottenham’s programmes are tied into partnerships with the likes of the Special Olympics. “So what we’re looking to do is engage with the younger fanbase out there.” The BVB Evonik Soccer School has also been active this summer, running courses for children and young players in Poland, the US, Japan and elsewhere. The messaging around such clinics draws heavily on the club’s reputation for a highly entertaining, hyper-kinetic playing style. As Letchmanan suggests, that culture is at the core of Dortmund’s international brand. “A lot of the players that come from the club – a majority – are from the youth team,” he says. “It’s not seen as a club that goes out to buy top players –

it’s not one of the Real Madrids of this world – but we have a very good system that develops talent and that’s something that we would like to share, this ethos, with the rest of Asia.” For all the importance of those activities, and for all the care that might go into building a base in each new market, the quickest, most effective and furthest reaching tools at any club’s disposal are digital. Cullen conÀrms that social media represents “the easiest” and “the most immediate” barometer for the success of Spurs’ pre and post-season tours, and adds that that is the primary means for the club to maintain an international presence throughout the season itself. Letchmanan echoes those thoughts. “It’s all about engagement,” he says. “I think this is extremely crucial for a club like ours.” Dortmund’s social media channels – the club have 1. million followers on Twitter and have been ‘liked’ by over 1 million people on Facebook – are among the more likeable of those run by European clubs, brimming with the kind of personality that has come to deÀne the club in the public sphere. “We’re selling something that’s different from the rest of the clubs,” suggests Letchmanan. “I think what we’re selling are passion and emotion. The club is very passionate and emotional.” For those supporters for whom a trip to the rocking Signal Iduna Park is an unlikely dream, digital interaction at least offers a hint of that fan experience.


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Of course, there are more pragmatic ends to which digital media is applied. For one thing, a broader online presence can be used to sell products directly to fans, something which in Spurs’ case is allied to the retail network offered by their US-based apparel partner. “Broadly, the shirt sales and merchandise sales will be online,â€? says Cullen. “Through Under Armour we have sales through their outlets around the world, and that’s all over the world. So they would be the two points of sale for our merchandise. And then as I mentioned if we are doing link ups with speciĂ€c clubs that’s another route to market for us. The ‘Super Clubs’ at the moment are El Cerrito and Talahassee, both based in North America.â€? Moreover, digital and social media allow clubs to effectively gauge where their fanbases are growing. “We have to carefully plan exactly which markets we would like to go into,â€? says Letchmanan. “So the likes of China, the likes of Vietnam, the likes of Thailand, Indonesia, India, these are the markets that we’re looking into sharing the story of our success – the story of the club. And we have to do that with baby steps. We don’t want to start leaping and jumping and Ă ying. We’ll do baby steps, little steps. It will take a while, but I’m sure it will reach its optimum in the near future. But we need to keep the momentum going.â€? For the Premier League, the activities of its clubs in overseas markets raise compelling questions about what it can and should be doing from the centre. “It’s interesting because if you are asking me personally what I would like to add I could give you a number of things,â€? says Greenwood. “Ultimately it is not going to change overnight. Things that you could look at doing, and again, we need to Ă€nd a way of working with the clubs on this and there may not be a way of working with them, but arguably having more of a central Premier League retail presence abroad, whether that is bricks and mortar or digital or whatever, if we were able to bring some added value‌â€? As well as greater central control over their franchised teams and their marketing assets, the likes of the NBA and Major League Baseball (MLB) have been able to schedule regular-season games in international markets in recent years. Tottenham’s partnership with the NFL is 30 |

Donna-Maria Cullen, executive director at Spurs

as Ă€rm a suggestion as any that that trend is not going into reverse any time soon. Football clubs have been comparatively reticent about playing competitive games overseas. The closest any of the elite leagues have come is in Italy, whose Supercoppa – which pits the previous season’s league champions against the winners of the Coppa Italia – has been held in Beijing, Doha and, in 2015, at China’s Shanghai Stadium. The prospect of one league or another eventually making the jump looks ever likelier but there are sporting considerations to take into account. Whereas the business end of the US major leagues is in the playoffs, European football leagues are based entirely on their regular-season Ă€xtures. The loss of a potentially decisive home match would be too much for many clubs to risk. The Premier League hoped to circumvent that difĂ€culty in 200 when it proposed ‘game 39’, an international round of Ă€xtures to be played at neutral venues outside England. But the problem with that format was that fairness could still not be safeguarded: in theory, a team playing for the title or to avoid relegation could be given a tough extra game while their rivals faced weaker opposition or a side with nothing at stake.

The Premier League’s head of partnerships Tom Greenwood hopes to expand the fanbase in Asia

“I think there would have to be a lot more agreement worked out on that and then it would have to have agreement from all the clubs, so I’m not sure where that one will pan out,â€? says Cullen, asked whether the 39th game concept could be revived. “At the moment US fans of EPL certainly get to see the teams a lot because all of the top teams are looking to play in the US, and we’ve now got the players moving between the two countries which is another angle. So I think we’ll get the dual interest and then hopefully the broadcast, and then it’s a case of fans travelling and fans enjoying the matches when they do come.â€? For his part, Letchmanan hopes that Dortmund will be able to establish a lasting stronghold for themselves in south-east Asia. He reveals that the club are “working very closely with the likes of the Football Association of Singaporeâ€? on the possibility of using the Singapore Sports Hub as a regular pre-season training base or as a venue for friendly matches. With the Ă€erce competition between clubs in the region, he also aims to communicate the idea that fans of a Premier League team could also follow one in another country – say, Borussia Dortmund. One thing that Letchmanan is clear on is that no club reaching out into a new market can depend on the quick hit of television coverage, or even an international tour. The Ă€rst team might only be in town for July or January but for the rest of the organisation, it is a year-round process. “It depends on what the objectives of the clubs are,â€? he says. “If clubs are looking at an international spectrum, an international overview of its reach of its fanbase and going global, promoting its brand tirelessly, then Asia could give them that platform to reach its audience. However, a lot of homework must be done and it takes many years to reach the success that clubs like United and Liverpool have achieved. So it all depends on what the objectives of these clubs are. “If they’re really looking to monetise their reach, then yes, there’s so much opportunity here in Asia. But if clubs are seen to be coming in to solely do a tour once and then going back to Europe thereafter with no further continuity or follow up engagements with its Asian fans then I think that would not work.â€?

Building from home: Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium


ottenham Hotspur first outlined their proposal for a new ground in 2007 and after several years of planning disputes – and a bid to take over the site of London’s Olympic Stadium in Stratford – the club finally received clearance from Haringey council to begin a UK£400 million development close to their White Hart Lane home in the north of the British capital. Designed by Populous as part of the 20-acre Northumberland Development Project, the stadium will boast a retractable grass pitch with an artificial surface underneath – a feature that helped the club complete a decadelong hosting arrangement with the National Football League (NFL) to stage at least two regular-season games a year from 2018. That will be only one of the events that the club hopes can establish the new 61,000-seater ground as a significant asset for the club at home and abroad. Executive director Donna-Maria Cullen discusses those plans with SoccerexPro’s Mike Kennedy. Is the functionality and the design of the new stadium something that’s been modelled on other examples? We appointed Populous to review the designs because obviously the original scheme was consented in 2007 so it was eight years old and stadia dates very quickly, notwithstanding you get new technologies and you need to look to future-proof it and get new regulations. So we brought Populous in to have a fresh look at that design of the stadium. And they are obviously world leaders in stadium design so they were able to bring their experience to there and what would work. And we started it from the point of making it the most fantastic experience for anybody that’s actually within that stadium and then making sure it’s well connected and linked, so if you’re not in the stadium you can still be part of that experience and that’s the way stadia is generally moving now.

An artist’s rendering of Tottenham’s new stadium, which is set to host NFL matches from 2018

So one of the main scheme revisions that came out of that was the enlargement of our single tier end or ‘Kop’ style end, which will create the most amazing atmosphere and wall of sound. And then making sure that acoustically the bowl was as good as it could be. So it is all driven by what the fan experience will be like, including proximity to the pitch. Our fans will be closer to the pitch than in any comparable European stadium, significantly closer. Was that experience that fans will be guaranteed something that encouraged the NFL to come in and form this partnership? Certainly the design, the technology that the stadium includes, the knowing that it would be a fantastic fan experience and also the retractable pitch – they won’t have the same issue of needing to take out seating because the retractable pitch is lower, so you therefore don’t interrupt the sight lines form the first row of seats, because with the NFL as I’m sure you know you’ve got more people who stand on the touchlines and tall individuals, so sight lines are a completely different concept. So having that at a lower level means that it doesn’t impact on the seating in the bowl area. And likewise having the extended changing facilities to accommodate for that?

Absolutely. And those are facilities that are specifically there so it’s not a case of us having to move out of ours so that they can move in. We have extra facilities which will be used by the NFL. It’s clearly a hugely exciting time with that now on the horizon. What does that mean for the club going forward and into the future? Well I mean we were always global by virtue of being in the EPL. I think this takes it to a different level and in terms of what we’re able to deliver in an area like Tottenham, certainly our area – this is the start of real regeneration there. So the increased capacity of the stadium and the revenue alone it generates is a game changer. But when you add these other aspects in I think we’ve got such a unique proposition. It’s the ability to come to London and see an NFL match and a Premier League match over the period of a weekend if you wanted to, but it’s also the fact that as a club we have expanded our repertoire in terms of what we will have on our site and just the sheer life and 365 days a year operation there, not forgetting of course music concerts. It becomes quite a significant thing for music concerts because some of the existing venues are too big for certain groups or performers, for example Wembley, and some others are too small, for example The O2. So for size and the versatility of our stadium there will be a lot of appeal for concerts.


STATE OF SOCCER Having sat in the shadow of Major League Soccer since its foundation in 2009, with no promotion or relegation system in place with its bigger brother, the North American Soccer League has struggled to break from the shackles imposed upon it by US Soccer’s second-tier designation. Nevertheless, with football seeing unprecedented growth in the region, the league is set to welcome two new teams – from Miami and Puerto Rico – in 2016. Commissioner Bill Peterson tells Mike Kennedy how he is keen to foster greater collaboration to help the future development of the game in North America.

What kind of sporting landscape is the North American Soccer League, or NASL, currently sitting in within North America?

Well, when the league Àrst launched, US Soccer decided to designate it as a second division. But we don’t have promotion and relegation so that designation really doesn’t deÀne who we are or affect what we’re doing. So we’re focused on building a property here, a professional soccer league that will be very relevant in this

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country and will hopefully be able to compete with anyone in the world one day, and not necessarily win right away but compete. And that’s the way we go about our business. How does it work between the NASL and Major League Soccer – MLS – and what’s the relationship like?

Without promotion and relegation, they’re just two separate leagues going about their business. So there’s really no

link from what they do and what we do. We focus on our own business. Nothing they do really affects what we’re doing. Fortunately, we get a chance to play them once a year in the US Open Cup and we look forward to that – getting the chance to play teams in other leagues is one of the highlights of our year. But as long as there’s no promotion or relegation they’re just two separate entities going about their business and that probably won’t really change.

It’s similar, I think, to what baseball went through decades ago with the American League and the National League – they were two separate entities that went about their business and they were smart enough to play each other at the end of the year in the World Series. And maybe we’ll do the same one day.

take. It’s not something you can just wave along: it’s going to take a lot of work. It’s going to take some planning and strategy, but we do feel that a) it’s important, and b) there’s a lot of people in this part of the world that understand the importance of having that system in place so I’m conÀdent that we’ll start to make some movements towards that direction and we’ll get something done in due time.

Do you think having promotion and relegation is something that’s necessary for the growth of the league in the future?

I really do. I became a disciple of this when I lived in Europe and saw how every community in every country there was linked to the game through promotion and relegation, and how important that was to developing and maintaining a fan base and creating a lot of excitement – both on the promotion and on the relegation side. We have a very large landmass with almost 400 million people between the United States and Canada. If we’re going to reach our full potential as a soccer-playing area, then every community has to feel that they have a link to the game. So it’s going to be vital that we build a true pyramid out that probably has four, Àve or six levels at least and plenty of opportunities for communities, both large and small, to build their clubs up and compete, and for the fans to understand what that pathway is for the local club and for them to support it. You see that in England every day, where you have a fan of a team like Bolton Wanderers and they’re lifelong fans and that’s their club; they’ll also support maybe, if not a true support,

Bill Peterson, the commissioner of the NASL

but they’ll pull for the teams that are playing in Europe. And that to me is when the model is really working and we’re going to have to put that in place if we really want to be taken seriously on a global basis. It’s a global sport; the best in the world have Àgured out how to best organise it and we should follow that lead. Have you had conversations about the possibility of bringing about promotion and relegation with MLS in the future?

Well they’ve been very clear on record that that’s not going to happen with them, and that’s OK, too. Again, we’re dealing with a unique country with a unique population, including Canada. And if there’s a certain league that doesn’t want to participate, that doesn’t stop the model from taking shape. So what we have to do now is Ànd likeminded leagues and like-minded people who want to grow something like that out and start to look at what it’s going to

Looking at the teams within the NASL, we’ve seen the re-emergence and revival of teams like the New York Cosmos and Tampa Bay Rowdies from the old North American Soccer League. Is there a slight nostalgic element to this, a harking back to when they were in their heyday, or is it more about the continual focus of trying to grow the league?

Look, it’s a balancing act. We take a lot of pride in trying to restore the history of that league and the great moments they had, and all the fans that were developed and all the fans that followed that league with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, and the Cosmos and the Rowdies and others. But at the same time, that history is not really going to help us much as far as plotting the course for the future. So we do try to educate people as to what that league was about, and the great players and some of the great accomplishments, but we fully realise that’s in the past and we’ve got to make our own future. It’s great to have some of those brands along for the ride. There’s still an interesting following around the world: people who are aware of those teams and the great players that

Franz Beckbauer (left) playing for the original New York Cosmos in 1983, and Spanish legend Raúl (right) playing for their modern-day incarnation SOCCEREXPRO | 35

of territory we haven’t covered on the mainland, if you will, so we’re focused on the west coast – we’ve made no secret about that and we expect to make some announcements there this year. We have a couple of places in the Midwest that are starting to develop and are very interesting to us. And we believe there’s still room for growth in Canada. I don’t think I would see us putting a second team in the Caribbean in the short term but I wouldn’t rule it out in the long term. How will the suspension of NASL chairman Aaron Davidson in the wake of the Fifa corruption probe affect the league?

Peterson believes that the NASL can move out from under the shadow of its older brother, the MLS

played for them. So it just helps with the introduction of who we are today. What does the league need to help push it on to the next level?

The biggest thing that’s happened in this country over the last ten years is the emergence of a critical mass, if you will, of professional soccer fans. For decades we’ve had all of these kids and adults playing soccer but they weren’t necessarily fans of the pro game. Now, with the broadcasting arrangements here, a fan of soccer can watch the top leagues, the top teams, the top players around the world seven days a week. And so we’ve developed a real base of savvy soccer fans who understand everything from single table to transfer windows. With our league, we act and we look like some of those other leagues around the world and the fans are supportive of that. So what we have to do is continue to be true to who we are, we’ve got to play great soccer – that’s always the Àrst thing – and we’re getting stronger and stronger every year. If we do these things the fanbase is there for us. So it’s about being patient but working hard at it.

are Miami residents who understand the global game, they understand all the pieces necessary to be successful on the Àeld and off the Àeld and we’ve got a lot of conÀdence in them and a lot of belief that they are going to do some pretty special things in Miami. And then having [Puerto Rico FC owner] Carmelo Anthony come on board, obviously he’s a well-known athlete – he’s also becoming a wellknown businessman – and he’s got family connections to Puerto Rico. Both groups are doing this for the right reasons. And for Puerto Rico, the Caribbean area is very important to us from a player standpoint, from a future development standpoint. And having Carmelo have a team is really important. There’s a great passion for the game in the Caribbean area and to be able to tap into that is going to be a lot of fun for us. So we’re very excited to have those teams come on board. That gives us 13 teams now and our goal is 20, so we’re getting closer and we expect to announce some more teams before the end of this year.

What will the addition of Miami FC and Puerto Rico FC to the NASL from the 2016 season mean for the league?

Will there be a concerted effort to expand further in the Caribbean region with more teams coming from the likes of Puerto Rico?

They are both great ownership groups, which is very important to us. [Miami FC owners] Ricardo Silva and Paolo Maldini

I don’t think we’ll add more teams there at this moment. It could be something we do in the future, but we still have a lot

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It doesn’t affect anything. Look, there’s an ongoing investigation here and we can’t really say much more than we have. But our owners took quick and decisive action and removed Aaron. I’m currently interim chairman and when we go to our next board of governors meeting in September, we’ll elect a new chairman. But the business has not been affected in any way shape or form. How soon will it be before some of the proposed teams that you’re currently engaged with join the league? Are you looking at incremental additions each year over the next few years?

We’ve been careful not to put any sort of false expectations or boundaries around the process. Every situation with each interested party takes a different amount of time and effort. It’s hard to predict when everything is going to be in place. So we’ve had groups come in from start to Ànish in four months and with others it’s taken a year. What’s important to us is that we have the right owners in the right cities, we make all the right plans before we make any announcements and then we’re conÀdent that the team is going to be successful from day one once it’s been announced. We’ve never had more interest in the league than right now. We’re in multiple discussions with some really great ownership groups and we’re very conÀdent that we’re going to continue to add teams but we don’t have a deadline for getting it done – that would just force us into making bad decisions. But I would be surprised if

New York Cosmos played a friendly match against the national side of Cuba in Havana earlier this year to help promote American-Cuban relations

we haven’t reached 20 teams within 1 to 24 months. What’s the application process for prospective teams looking to join?

In general, people are reaching out to us and expressing an interest. At that point we try to vet why they’re interested? Do they understand what we’re doing? Do they have the same philosophy and the same vision for building out a club and a league? Do they have the Ànancial wherewithal? Do we think the city they’re considering is a good Àt for who we are today and where we want to go? And then you start getting more granular, looking at the support from the city and its businesses and amateur soccer groups in the area, and more. When we get through all of that and the people still want to go forward then we introduce them to the other owners, we make sure that everybody involved has a good relationship and an understanding relationship, and only at that point would we consider the admission of a group. So you can imagine having to set all that process, it can move very quickly or it can take some time. We try not to

put any undue pressure on it; we try to let everything develop organically. And we want to feel really good about the announcements we make regarding teams. Do the ownership groups already present within the league have a deciding say on whether a new team joins?

There’s a vote. There needs to be a majority approval. But we would not bring an ownership group to that board unless we knew that everybody was completely on board and we would expect the unanimous support of any new group we were bringing in. It’s very important to us that new owners Àt in well with existing owners; that everybody’s on the same page and making the same commitment. That’s a process we guard very carefully and so far we’ve been very successful – it’s an incredible group of owners who believe in what we’re doing and have committed a lot of resources and time of their own to build this league, and that’s what’s going to make us successful in a short period of time. Finally, have you noticed an obvious

knock-on effect from the 2014 Fifa World Cup, given how well the US national team performed?

Every cycle of World Cups you see an explosion of people following. Look, 12 years ago I don’t know how many Americans actually understood the knock-out round versus the elimination round, but now they sure do and they’re very excited and they’re following the team. Obviously after the World Cup there’s always a dip as some of those people go away, but there’s also a number that stay and they become enamoured with the game and they start to learn more about it. And now they’re starting to follow their local clubs and follow them. We’ve just started to scratch the surface as a country and as a region. But the national team deÀnitely plays an important role in that. All of our teams are playing the role in developing young players that will maybe play in that team one day. Everybody has to be successful to get to where we want to get to. It’s a great phenomenon, I tell you. Looking back 20 years ago and then looking at this last World Cup, it’s impressive. SOCCEREXPRO | 37


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Preparations for next year’s Uefa European Championship in France have so far managed to escape the scrutiny that has come to be expected of major events. As the countdown to the tournament continues, Michael Long profiles each of the ten venues that will host Europe’s biggest football occasion in 2016.


ick-off may be due in around nine months’ time, but it has been easy to overlook Uefa Euro 2016. That is, it has been easy to forget it is taking place at all. With the attention of the global football media having been Àrmly trained in recent months on Fifa and its heavily scrutinised World Cups in Brazil, Russia and Qatar, the organisers of next year’s European Championship in France have been left to go about their business more or less under the radar. That preparations for next summer’s tournament, the third to be held in France, have received relatively little attention will have been welcomed by Uefa, the European game’s governing body who themselves came under considerable pressure in the run-up to the 2012 edition of their Áagship event in Poland and Ukraine. That competition, for all the highlights it ultimately produced on the pitch, was dogged by infrastructure delays and beset by logistical challenges. There can be no such fears over Euro 2016. A return to France, host of the Euros in 1960 and 1984, marks a return to an established football heartland for Uefa, and with a little under 300 days to go until the 2016 tournament kicks off at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, just outside Paris, next June, things are moving along rather nicely. Overseen by Euro 2016 SAS, a joint venture created by Uefa and the French Football Federation (FFF), the commercial programme for the tournament is advancing apace, with organisers well on course to reach their overall target of €1.4 billion in broadcast rights and sponsorship income. Licensing and merchandising partners are steadily being contracted according to plan and SOCCEREXPRO | 39

Stade des LumiEres, Lyon Status: Scheduled to open early 2016 Project leader: Olympique Lyonnais Type of project: New stadium Capacity: 58,000 Architects: Populous Constructor: Vinci Operator: Olympique Lyonnais Financing: Private Cost of project: €405m Matches: Four group matches, one round of 16 tie, one semi-final

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Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille Metropole Status: Opened in August 2012 Project leader: Lille Métropole Urban Community Type of project: New stadium Capacity: 50,000 Constructor: Eiffage Architects: Valode & Pistre - Atelier Ferret Architectures Operator: Elisa Financing: Public-private partnership Cost of project: €324m Matches: Four group matches, one round of 16 tie, one quarter-final

Bob Edme/AP/ Press Association Images

New Bordeaux stadium, Bordeaux Status: Opened in May 2015 Project leader: Bordeaux City Council Type of project: New stadium Capacity: 42,000 Architects: Herzog & De Meuron - Groupe 6 Constructor: Vinci - Fayat Architects Operator: Financing: Public-private partnership Cost of project: €184m Matches: Four group matches, one quarterfinal

that will allow France to develop a new generation of sports facilities’. Since 1945, as Uefa literature points out, only three stadiums with a capacity greater than 30,000 have been built in France: the Parc des Princes in Paris in 1972, La Beaujoire in Nantes in 1984, and the Stade de France in 1998. V for Vinci Of the ten stadium projects for Euro 2016, French Àrm Vinci Concessions – Europe’s largest stadium operator with integrated divisions spanning design, Ànance, construction and venue management – is involved, either as

Jacques Brinon/AP/ Press Association Images

the initial phase of the event’s ticketing programme got up and running in July without any notable hiccups. It is, however, the local organisers’ efÀciently executed stadium programme that has perhaps proved most impressive. In total, ten venues will host matches at Euro 2016, the Àrst European Championship to include an expanded line-up of 24 teams and 51 Àxtures. The time taken to build a new stadium for the tournament has averaged just 30 months. New venues have been, or are being, constructed in the cities of Lille, Nice, Lyon and Bordeaux, while those in Marseille, Paris, Saint-Etienne, Lens and Toulouse have undergone major renovations. The Stade de France, the tournament’s centrepiece that will host the Ànal as well as the opening game, has been the subject of some minor upgrades. The total investment in stadiums for Euro 2016 stands at around €1.6 billion, with the tournament having been hailed by Uefa as ‘the catalyst for a massive modernisation programme

Jacques Brinon/AP/ Press Association Images

Laurent Cipriani/AP/ Press Association Images

Nigel French/EMPICS Sport

Stade de France, Saint-Denis Status: Existing stadium Project leader: Stade de France Consortium Type of project: Minor renovation Capacity: 80,000 Architects: SCAU Constructor: Operator: Consortium Stade de France Financing: Cost of project: Matches: Four group matches, one round of 16 tie, one quarter-final, final

A June event marking the one-year countdown

Allianz Riviera, Nice Status: Opened in September 2013 Project leader: Nice City Council Type of project: New stadium Capacity: 36,000 Constructor: Vinci Architects: Wilmotte & Associés SA Operator: Nice Eco Stadium Financing: Public-private partnership Cost of project: €204m Matches: Three group matches, one round of 16 tie

constructor, operator or both, in Àve. One such venue, the New Bordeaux stadium, was conceived by Herzog and De Meuron, designers of FC Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena as well as Beijing’s ‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium, and built by the Stade Bordeaux Atlantique consortium, a 50:50 venture formed by Vinci and the Fayat Group, under a private-public partnership (PPP) for €184 million. OfÀcially inaugurated in May, the venue has been described by Euro 2016 SAS president Jacques Lambert as “one of the stand-out examples of the new generation of stadiums that organising Uefa Euro 2016 has allowed France to build” and boasts a unique metallic structure that consists of 900 stanchions designed to resemble the trunks of local Landes pine trees. With 42,000 seats in its sports event conÀguration and up to 45,000 for concerts, the new home of Ligue 1 side FC Girondins de Bordeaux is a prime example of the speed with which many of the Euro 2016 venues have been constructed: the entire construction phase ran from November

Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

Stade Velodrome, Marseille Status: Opened in October 2014 Project leader: Marseille City Council Type of project: Major renovation Capacity: 67,000 Constructor: Bouygues Architects: SCAU Operator: Aréma Financing: Public-private partnership Cost of project: €267m Matches: Four group matches, one quarterfinal, one semi-final

Parc des Princes, Paris Status: Scheduled for completion in August 2015 Project leader: Paris City Council and PSG Type of project: Major renovation Capacity: 48,000 Constructor: Vinci Architects: ATSP Operator: SESE Financing: Private Cost of project: €75m Matches: Four group matches, one round of 16 tie

2012 to April of this year. Lyon’s Stade des Lumières, meanwhile, is another Vinci project going up at a remarkable pace. Though it will be the last Euro 2016 venue to open when it is inaugurated early next year, building work on the 58,000-seater stadium in Décines only began in the summer of 2013. Built at a reported cost of €405 million, the stadium is the most expensive being constructed for Euro 2016 and forms the centrepiece of a 45-hectare multi-use development, OL Park, which will also include a new training ground for its Ligue 1 tenants Olympique Lyonnais as well as a sports museum, sports medicine centre, a health spa and leisure centre, and a 150-room hotel. Populous-designed, the Stade des Lumières certainly lives up to its name, with its most notable feature an enormous translucent roof over the stands – the largest of its kind in Europe – which is made from a special fabric that allows UV rays to pass through for optimal pitch lighting. Nice’s Allianz Riviera, home of Ligue

Stade Geoffroy Guichard, Saint-Etienne Status: Completed in January 2015 Project leader: SaintÉtienne Métropole Type of project: Major renovation Capacity: 42,000 Constructor: Léon Grosse Architects: Chaix & Morel et Associés Operator: Saint-Etienne Métropole Financing: Public Cost of project: €72m Matches: Three group matches, one round of 16 tie

Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens Agglo Status: Scheduled for completion in November 2015 Project leader: Nord Pas-de-Calais Regional Council Type of project: Major renovation Capacity: 38,000 Architects: Cardete & Huet - Atelier Ferret Architectures Operator: FC Lens Financing: Public Cost of project: €70m Matches: Three group matches, one round of 16 tie

1 side OGC Nice, has been in operation since September 2013 following a construction process that took almost exactly two years to complete. The €204 million project, designed by Wilmotte & Associés SA and constructed by Vinci, was revived for France’s bid for Euro 2016, having previously been planned, and then shelved, several years earlier. Like three other Euro 2016 venues, the Allianz Riviera was born of a PPP, in this case between city, regional and state authorities, Vinci Concessions, the Ànancial company Caisse des Dép{ts et Consignations, and South Europe Infrastructure Equity Finance (SEIEF). To date, the stadium in Nice is the only Euro 2016 venue to be the subject of a naming rights deal, with German Ànancial services Àrm Allianz having signed a nine-year, €16.2 million (US$19.6 million) agreement to rename the 36,000-capacity venue in July 2012. The remaining two Euro 2016 stadium projects in which Vinci is involved have both been subject to renovations ahead of the tournament. Paris’ Parc

Stadium Municipal, Toulouse Status: Scheduled for completion in 2015 Project leader: Toulouse City Council Type of project: Major renovation Capacity: 33,000 Constructor: SOCOTRAP Architects: Cardete & Huet - Atelier Ferret Architectures Operator: Toulouse City Council Financing: Public Cost of project: €35m Matches: Three group matches, one round of 16 tie

des Princes, home to Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain since 1973, has undergone a two-year €75 million revamp, funded jointly by the City of Paris and PSG’s Qatari owners. Two new rows of seating have been installed to bring fans closer to the pitch and increase the total capacity to 48,000, while new VIP areas and food outlets, more pubic conveniences, Wi-Fi, and a PSG museum are just some of the new additions at the ground. The Stade de France, meanwhile, is the stadium that has needed the least work ahead of next summer’s tournament. The largest Euro 2016 venue, with a capacity of 80,000, was originally constructed by Vinci to host the 1998 Fifa World Cup. French football’s facelift The Euro 2016 venues in Lille, Lens and Toulouse are all designed by Bordeauxbased Atelier Ferret Architectures. Lille’s cutting-edge Stade Pierre Mauroy, run by a subsidiary of the French construction Àrm Eiffage Group, was ofÀcially opened SOCCEREXPRO | 41

The Euro 2016 venues in figures

In Lens, the ageing yet iconic Stade Bollaert-Delelis is in the Ànal stages of a major renovation being carried out at a cost of €70 million. Built by unemployed miners back in the 1930s, it has undergone numerous upgrades since its original opening over 80 years ago. Though not as large or as technologically advanced as other Euro 2016 venues, Stade Bollaert-Delelis holds the rare distinction of being able to accommodate virtually the entire population of the town in which it is located, with Lens home to just 36,000 inhabitants. Atelier Ferret Architectures’ third Euro 2016 venue is the 33,000-seater Stadium Municipal in the southern city of Toulouse. Like Lens’ Stade BollaertDelelis, Toulouse’s stadium is a publicly funded facility undergoing a signiÀcant

Michel Euler/AP/Press Association Images

in August 2012 and now plays host to Ligue 1 club LOSC Lille. Heralded by Euro 2016 SAS stadiums director Xavier Daniel as bringing “a new concept in the world”, its most distinctive design feature is a retractable pitch that can be entirely reconÀgured, creating space for a multitude of other sports and entertainment events. “The pitch is a unique set-up,” the venue’s head of marketing and sports, Julien Rongier, told SportsPro magazine earlier this year. “To explain it very simply: you take the pitch, you cut it in half so you have the north section and the south section. The north section disconnects and it rises Àve metres above the pitch ground level and slides over the south section. And beneath the north part you have a big concert arena that can welcome up to 30,000 people.”

A giant replica of the European Championship trophy in the Champ de Mars, in front of the Eiffel Tower 42 |

renovation. New seats have been added to three of its stands, while lighting at the facility has been upgraded and security enhanced through the installation of a new 150-camera video surveillance system. The remaining two venues have also beneÀted from major overhauls in anticipation of next summer’s event. Marseille’s Stade Vélodrome was ofÀcially inaugurated last October after three years of extensive renovation work courtesy of Bouygues Group subsidiary Arema, which now operates the venue. A signiÀcant logistical challenge was overcome as Olympique de Marseille, Ligue 1 tenants of the stadium, played on throughout the rebuild that saw 40,000 cubic metres of concrete, a 6,000-tonne roof support structure and 3,800 tonnes of steel added to the building. With an increased capacity of 67,000, the venue is now covered by a distinctive 65,000-square-metre undulating canopy that dominates the Marseille skyline. Last but not least, Saint-Étienne’s Stade Geoffroy Guichard reopened in the new year and is operated by local and regional authorities, who between them funded the entire renovation project that saw work carried out in three phases over a three-year period. Some €72 million was invested to complete the work, which saw stands remodelled and new hospitality areas created at Le Chaudron.



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PLATFORMS FOR CHANGE Football’s commercial explosion has bred a generation of stadiums that have set new standards in technology, operations and aesthetics. Yet innovation in venue design takes a whole range of forms. SoccerexPro looks at five grounds from around the world that have taken an intelligent approach to solving problems or creating new possibilities.

Baku National StadiumƉ– Baku, Azerbaijan The venue built in record time using cutting-edge technologies and design practices.

In order to have Baku National Stadium built in time for the opening ceremony of the European Games in June 2015, the project team performed design and construction simultaneously and work was undertaken around the clock, with a team of up to 6,000 labourers working three split-shifts spanning 24 hours a day at times. As part of a global collaboration effort to design and build the venue, information modelling software company Tekla instigated its Building Information Modelling (BIM) approach as a strategic tool to support the

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accelerated schedule. New York-based international engineering Àrm Thornton Tomasetti provided structural design services utilising Tekla programmes, under the leadership of Tekfen Engineering in Istanbul, to create the detailed, information-rich models. Pre-cast reinforced concrete and main and secondary steel structures were modelled using Tekla Structures, and these models subsequently served as the information source for creating the fabrication drawings. The automated design routine to check beam and column reinforcement

against seismic code provisions greatly sped up the design process and a system of piled raft foundations, more commonly used for high-rise buildings, was applied to the stadium to give the greatest possible design Áexibility. The stadium was opened in March 2015, a mere 24 months after the commencement of the project, boasting a capacity of 68,000 and complete with a running track and football pitch. It is the new home to the Azerbaijan national football team and will play host to several games during the pan-continental Uefa Euro 2020 tournament. MK

Stade Pierre-MauroyƉ– Villeneuve-d’Ascq, France Ground-breaking in more ways than one, Lille’s Uefa Euro 2016 venue is a stadium set to transform.

Describing the Eiffage-designed Stade Pierre-Mauroy, the home stadium of Ligue 1 side Lille and host venue for seven matches at next summer’s Uefa Euro 2016, as ‘groundbreaking’ is probably something of an understatement. Hidden beneath the pitch sits a complex series of hydraulic lifts, ready to literally break the ground apart, as part of what is surely one of the world’s most versatile sporting arenas.

It takes three hours for the machinery involved to raise the north half of the pitch Àve metres into the air and manoeuvre it over the south half, revealing a lower stage complete with extra ringside seating. To further boost its ‘Transformer’ credentials, the stadium also boasts a retractable roof, which can be deployed in just 15 minutes. Thus, in slightly less than the time it took for Stan Wawrinka

to beat Novak Djokovic in this year’s French Open Ànal, the Stade PierreMauroy can be reconÀgured from a fully functioning 50,000-seater outdoor football stadium into a more compact, though no less well-equipped, 30,000seat multi-function indoor arena. The stadium has played host to tennis, basketball, music concerts and even a Supercross motorbike event since opening in 2012. AN

Estadio de Futbol MonterreyƉ– Guadalupe, Mexico The gold standard for ecological consciousness in sports infrastructure.

The age of large-scale sports venues dominating their immediate environment is no more. Now, the emphasis is increasingly on integration, and few have achieved that as well as Mexico’s Estadio de Futbol Monterrey. Of all the green initiatives on display at the US$200 million venue – the new home of Mexican club CF Monterrey – water and energy conversation were of particular importance for its designers, Populous and VFO Architects. Set within 25,000m2 of green space and amid 2,000 native trees, the entire complex is

designed to capture and Àlter rainwater to replenish nearby aquifers, with a heat-resistant Grasspave porous paving system used in parking ‘gardens’ to facilitate both the transit of vehicles and increased water absorption. Elsewhere in the building, a state of the art and highly energy-efÀcient lighting system has been installed in all areas while a cantilevered roof and perforated outer façade, fashioned in such a way as to resemble a Àsh’s gills, allow for air to Áow naturally through the stadium’s inner bowl.

On reÁection, it seems strange that the construction of such an ecologically conscious stadium, which was originally planned in 2008 but did not break ground until 2011 before opening this August, faced constant opposition from environmental groups, though it may be that such objections have shaped its development. The harmonious way in which this building sits within its natural surroundings, while employing some of the most advanced technology available, puts other supposedly ‘green’ sports arenas to shame. ML SOCCEREXPRO | 45

Borisov ArenaƉ– Barysaw, Belarus

Sergei Grits/AP/Press Association Images

The stadium that shows high-spec need not mean high-cost.

Innovation and ground-breaking design in construction, at least in the sports industry, are often interchangeable with budgets that stretch well into nine and even ten Àgures. Yet that need not necessarily be the case. In 2014, Belarussian champions BATE Borisov completed the construction of their new Borisov Arena home for the comparatively modest sum of €50 million. The stadium, which also plays host to Belarus national team games, is small

at a capacity of 13,000, but it boasts a striking design from Slovenian architects OFIS Arhitekti which neatly combines form and function. The bulbous shape of the building – achieved by cladding the exterior with aluminium panels and leaving space for oval windows – is intended to give the effect of skin stretched over bone but it also improves acoustics. The north-south orientation of the ground allows for an even spread of sunlight throughout each game but

construction was also planned to allow for the bare minimum of tree felling in the surrounding forest. And the Borisov Arena also boasts the requisite features for a truly modern sports facility. There are seats for 40 press and 250 VIPs on one side of the ground, and 3,000 square metres of publicly available restaurants, bars and shops, with a bowling alley and Àtness centre. A naturally ventilated foyer sits above, ready to receive spectators at half-time. EC

Estadio CastelãoƉ– Fortaleza, Brazil

Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

The Brazilian World Cup venue where waste is not a dirty word.

Much has been made about the waste in building stadiums for the 2014 Fifa World Cup. In the case of the renovation of the Estadio Castelmo, however, some of those complaints are misplaced, and not just because it was the only venue project to come in ahead of time and – US$50 million – under budget. Waste reduction was a feature of the construction phase, with 97 per 46 |

cent of waste diverted from landÀlls to be reused or recycled, while annual energy consumption has been cut by around 12.7 per cent at the remodelled Fortaleza ground, which also features strategically positioned central waste disposal units. But what is most notable about the 67,037-seater Castelmo is its use of water. There has been a 67.6 per cent reduction in potable water use, and a 71.9 per cent reduction in the volume

of potable water directed to the local sewer system. Meanwhile, it also features the world’s largest vacuum sanitary installation. Put in place by Jets, the system apparently reduces the amount of water used in each Áush by up to 90 per cent and saves over 500,000 litres – or 130,000 gallons – of water at every match. As Brazil faces up to drought, sewage and water quality crises, it could make a valuable contribution. EC

Tactical know-how Pinsent Masons Global Sports Group Soccerex Global Legal Partner Advising clients across Asia on the business of sport. UK Europe Middle East Asia PaciďŹ c Š Pinsent Masons LLP 2015

HEAD OF THE FLEET The Uefa Champions League is among the most coveted tournaments in sport, not only for those who play in it but for the brands who want to associate with it. For first-time sponsor Nissan it was important to make a statement at this year’s final in Berlin, as Eoin Connolly discovers.


e came after a sponsor that had been there for 21 years so it presents opportunities and challenges,” says Bastien Schupp, vice president of marketing for Europe at Japanese car manufacturer and Uefa Champions League sponsor Nissan. “The big opportunity is that people get bored and that if you’re there for 21 years you become part of the scenery and nobody notices you, so the fact that it’s different is a huge opportunity. The risk is that it takes time for people to notice. So that’s why we actually promote a lot – we write ‘Proud New Sponsor’ – for people to actually realise that there’s been a change, because otherwise it’s the same thing: people get confused. “Within the Champions League, it’s very well structured. We are the exclusive sponsor and Uefa is very strict in protecting that. But customers pay limited attention to that, and then you’ve got the Euro [Uefa European Championship] which is sponsored 48 |

by someone else, the teams might be sponsored by someone else. To people, it’s all mixing. So that’s why it’s important that we keep it simple, we repeat our messages all the time, and we promote the fact that we’re sponsors of the Champions League separately.” Schupp is speaking in Berlin on the morning of the Champions League Ànal, just a few hours before Spanish champions Barcelona beat their Italian counterparts Juventus 3-1 in European club football’s showpiece game. The day ahead will be a busy one: this is Nissan’s Àrst Ànal as a sponsor of the event, at the end of the Àrst season of a four-year deal, and it has had every intention of making its presence felt. The Japanese brand is part of a new Áeet of vehicle partners for major sporting events. In April of last year, it capitalised on the hesitancy of Ford – a Champions League sponsor since the 1992 relaunch of what was the European Cup, and a much more familiar presence in the space – signing a four-year deal


The Champions League trophy was delivered to Berlin’s Olympiastadion stadium in a Nissan e-NV200

with Uefa associate Team Marketing. There are no ofÀcial Àgures available, but it would be fair to suggest it is putting up an annual sum well into eight Àgures. For Schupp, it is money well spent. “We looked at various platforms based on their reach; based on the Àt with our brand,” explains Schupp. “And we knew via our agencies that the negotiation time for the Champions League was coming up so we just gave it a try. We really went in proactively and gave it a try. To be perfectly honest, in the beginning we never thought we would pull it off. It was more of a dream, because Nissan was not used to going for all these big properties. So for us, all of a sudden, to be sitting there next to Adidas and Sony and these brands is a big moment for us. I think on top of the visibility, it brings credibility, externally but also internally – employee pride, the dealers. Everyone, when we announced we were taking over the Champions League… there was a big warming in the company.” Nissan had already been ramping up its sponsorship activities before beginning a year of negotiations with Uefa in 2013. By then, it had signed up as a top-tier domestic partner of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and was a sponsor of the Africa Cup of Nations, while its InÀniti luxury brand had become the title sponsor of the then Formula One world champions Red Bull Racing. The Champions League deal, however, is on another level entirely. It is Nissan’s biggest global sponsorship and Schupp readily admits that there was a “steep learning curve” involved. 50 |

“We signed in January, we thought we had until the start of the season to get prepared – six months is already short – but in fact, Uefa is very strict and they wanted to see the Àrst materials in April,” he recalls. “So that was a bit of a panic! But we’ve learned a lot in this Àrst season, both for ourselves and how to work with the other partners – which works really well, Uefa is really helpful in getting the partners together. We had some friction in the very beginning because the entire sports territory, and more speciÀcally football, is new to us. And even now for the Ànal, we’ve invited a lot of guests – we’ve brought 1,100 guests to the Ànal – and we’ve had a lot of issues, for instance, with the compliance rules. A lot of guests cancelled because they just could not accept that gift. So we’ve learned a lot in how we should invite these people, start earlier – these kinds of learnings.” That huge cohort of guests includes the great Marco van Basten, the former Netherlands striker and head coach, who has been drawing praise from the PR team for his enthusiastic stint as a brand ambassador. It also includes media – SoccerexPro among them – but just as signiÀcant is the internal troop of staff who have been brought along. “We’ve got three effects,” says Schupp. “One, the main objective, is the external visibility and familiarity. But the secondary beneÀts, and they’re not small, are really about employee motivation. So we’ve had internal contests, we’ve had a Àvea-side tournament with 93 teams across

Europe and the two winning teams are going to play the Ànal today in front of the Brandenburger Tor at the festival. And then we have a lot of dealer activity as well, both dealers with customers but also motivational things where we use it to issue challenges to the dealers or to the salesmen and the prize is to win tickets to one of the matches or even to the Ànal.” The Champions League, for better or worse, has become a giddy kind of wonderland for its sponsors, and nowhere is this more apparent than at the Ànal. The release of thousands of matchday tickets to Uefa partners is supported by the presence of the Champions Village, a tented VIP-only area by the stadium where sponsors can entertain their guests, and by the four-day Champions Festival, a public event which has been set up beneath the iconic Brandenburg Gate. It runs down the Strasse des 17. Juni, the Àrst section of a long road that leads, eventually, to the Olympiastadion. There, where the sponsored beer Áows and the as-yet unsponsored snack foods are scoffed, Nissan has put together some experiential marketing installations based around its advertising campaigns with ambassadors Thiago Silva and Andrés Iniesta. Nissan is making the most of these opportunities to tell consumers more about its cars because, as Schupp explains, the many millions watching at home will get a shorter pitch. “What we’ve seen before,” says Schupp, “and it was conÀrmed in a recent study again, is that complex messaging around the match is not effective. There’s only so much a consumer can get and they watch the match, they don’t watch the advertising. I mean, they don’t want to. So the easier the message, the better. We communicate Nissan as a brand, and ‘Innovation That Excites’. These are the only two messages we communicate around the pitch, and that’s voluntary. “The more complex messages and the innovative stuff we do around [the event], so we do it in the breakbumpers or in the real advertising or in the activation.” For the Ànal itself, that messaging has been built around Nissan’s electric Áeet. A Friday night party is held for guests at EWerk, a nightclub-turnedevent venue built into the city’s Àrst electrical substation, the Abspannwerk

A fan gets involved with one of Nissan’s experiential marketing installations at the Champions Festival ahead of last season’s Champions League final

Buchhändlerhof. Over 100 all-electric, Champions League-branded Nissan Leafs are driven through the city in all their unnerving quietness, while the altogether louder Part e-Van thumps tunes through its built-in sound system outside the ground before the game. The trophy is carried from the fan park to the ground in another electric Nissan vehicle, an e-NV200 van with wide windows. “We could have talked about crossovers – we’re leaders in crossovers,” suggests Schupp. “We could have talked about our efforts in autonomous driving. All these things. But the more you say, the less people get, so we’ve decided that the Ànal is about electric. It makes sense.” In the event, the Ànal turns out about as well as Nissan could have imagined. A forecast thunderstorm does not materialise, Iniesta produces a man of the match performance, and there is even the happy accident of goals going in as Nissan branding circles the Àeld on the LED boards. Those hoardings will be a feature of every game in the Champions League in 2015/16, with each sponsor getting an estimated 11 minutes of exposure per game. The “sheer size” of the operation around the Ànal means only a few members of staff have switched to

next year’s activities, but Schupp is already clear about what the targets are. “Our prompted awareness in Europe is close to 95 per cent – so everybody knows Nissan, if you ask them,” he explains. “The issue is if you ask them what Nissan is, they have no clue. So it’s really about getting closer to people and you get that through frequency. You’ve got 17 match weeks through the season and it’s almost an entire year, so you get that repetition.” Nissan has added other properties to its sponsorship portfolio since the Champions League deal was signed, most notably agreeing a Àve-year deal with the City Football Group – the Abu Dhabibacked suite of football teams headed by Manchester City and including New York City FC, Yokohama F Marinos and Melbourne City FC – for a reported UK£20 million in July last year. In the US, it sponsors the Heismann Trophy for college football’s outstanding player, while Schupp also reveals an interest in getting involved in cricket. Nonetheless, it is Europe’s club football jamboree that remains the beacon for Nissan’s efforts, not only in terms of its proÀle but also the way it signiÀes a change in the company’s mindset when it comes to sports sponsorship.

“It’s our biggest global sponsorship by far but the guiding principle, if you want, is to go where the excitement is, and to go to properties that have a big inherent media value,” explains Schupp. “So the issue with the extreme sports and the adventure sports we did before is that – especially when we did it, now it’s starting to get a bit more mainstream – these things don’t get large coverage, so you need to give your sponsorship the coverage. These properties – whether it’s this one, whether it’s the Rio Olympics, whether it’s the Africa Cup of Nations, or even using Usain Bolt as an ambassador – they are self-promoting, and that’s quite key to us.” Through the course of its new sponsorship activities, Schupp says Nissan has learned “to keep it simple” and to be wary of getting “carried away” with the possibilities of major partnerships. “Internally, it’s all run by one global partnership and sponsorship department, and then it goes into the regions,” he says. “And it’s really sticking to the key messages, promoting them no matter what the platform is, rather than starting to be very football-speciÀc or very American football-speciÀc. The link is really innovation and excitement.” SOCCEREXPRO | 51

A REAL REVOLUTION Real Madrid are perhaps the biggest team in the world, with a trophy-littered history which includes a record ten European titles, an estimated 450 million fans worldwide and a valuation of US$3.26 billion, according to a recent estimate by Forbes magazine. Mike Kennedy paid a visit to the Spanish capital to find out about the club’s plans for a digital revolution to keep them at the top of the game.


here are few institutions in the world who can really talk to an audience of 450 million,” says José Ángel Sánchez, the chief executive of La Liga club Real Madrid. “What we have in front of us is a unique institution which can really develop relationships with hundreds of millions of people around the world. “These people are everywhere – they are in Asia, in America, they are in Europe, in Africa. We know that we have a huge audience, a tremendous audience, and it’s about being ready and being able to connect with them to understand who they are.” Sánchez is speaking in the pleasant environs of his ofÀce, housed within Real Madrid’s famous Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, an 82,000 capacity behemoth in the northern suburbs of the Spanish capital. He has worked for the club for 15 years, having initially joined in 2000 from his role as general marketing director for Japanese video game company Sega. While 12 managers have come and gone during his 15 years with Los Blancos – including, most recently, Carlo Ancelotti – Sánchez appears relaxed in his surroundings, having had

José Ángel Sánchez, Real Madrid chief executive

the beneÀt of a lengthy tenure in which to become acclimatised. Sánchez is attending the ofÀcial launch of Real Madrid’s new digital initiative, Realmadrid App, which has been developed by Microsoft. In November 2014 Microsoft struck a four-year, US$30 million agreement with Real Madrid, which saw the technology Àrm become Real’s strategic technological partner. Sitting alongside Sánchez is Orlando Ayala, the chairman and corporate vice president of emerging businesses at Microsoft.

The Santiago Bernabéu stadium in Madrid, which served as an inspiration for the Realmadrid App 52 |

The meeting is an opportunity to talk in detail about the app and the nature of the new expanded partnership between Real and Microsoft several hours ahead of the launch, which will occur on a stage being readied within the stadium’s executive seating area. The Santiago Bernabéu was built to realise the vision of its namesake, Real’s most famous president, of having a stadium that could accommodate more fans than any other football team of the day, giving the club a Ànancial advantage over their rivals. The vision of this new digital project, Sánchez explains, is founded on similar principles. “We are talking about certain exhaustion of the business model, and in fact this digital transformation is in the end the old dream of creating an endless Santiago Bernabéu stadium in which all the supporters and fans can go in,” states Sánchez. “There is room for everyone. They can get in and interact with other supporters. It is the same idea 70 years later using the digital tools. This is the vision of the club.” Just days prior to this trip, it remained unclear whether the last round of La Liga games or the Ànal of the Copa del Rey, Spain’s national knock-out competition, would go ahead. A leaguewide strike, announced by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and the players’ union, the AFE, was scheduled to take effect from 16th May 2015. The strike, the AFE argued, was a necessary response in objection to the collective bargaining regulations passed in April by the Spanish government, relating to the future handling of TV rights and the distribution of income in Spanish football. The AFE’s main concern is that the new distribution will produce an unacceptable split of money for players from lowerranked clubs within the league system.

Set to come into force in 2016, the new regulations have the backing of the Liga de Fútbol Profesional (LFP), the association which runs the top two tiers of the Spanish professional game – the Primera and Segunda divisions. They will apply to league games in the Àrst and second divisions, in addition to games in the Copa del Rey and the Supercup, which pits the Spanish league champions against the cup winners each year. As it turned out, the strike was suspended by the Spanish High Court. Real Ànished their season with a consolatory 7-3 victory over Getafe, with arch-rivals Barcelona having already sealed the league title a week beforehand with a 1-0 victory over reigning champions Atlético Madrid. By then, Real had also lost their hold on the Uefa Champions League title, secured in 2014, thanks to a semi-Ànal defeat against Italy’s Juventus. Off the Àeld, however, Real are keen to ensure that their pre-eminence is not challenged. “The essence of the partnership with Microsoft is really about knowing and understanding who these fans are and what they are expecting to receive from us [in terms of] content, services, information,” says Sánchez of an objective the club identiÀed as integral to their desire to take their digital operations to the next level. “This was the Àrst approach to the policy with Microsoft.” This is a partnership designed to serve both parties and together they have invested signiÀcant amounts into it. The Microsoft Cloud platform upon which the app has been built has unlimited capability for computing and Microsoft have six digital subscriber lines around the world to help serve it, each of which costs a cool US$600 million. “The digital transformation will allow something which is completely new: it will allow fans who live in, I don’t know,

Orlando Ayala, chairman and corporate vice president of emerging businesses at Microsoft

a street in Osaka expecting interaction, a one-to-one relationship, and this is really a big strategic transformation,” says Sánchez. “Microsoft identiÀed clearly the idea of putting the fan at the centre, which is maybe the most important strategic point. And the app we are launching today is the Àrst version of something which tries to focus on this strategy. “It’s also linked to certain internal tools like the digital platform, which will help to get insight from those fans and to understand the social behaviours of these people.” In his 24 years at Microsoft, Ayala says, there have never been more than 200 people from the company employed on a single project, but there are presently 1,000 Microsoft employees working on Realmadrid App, including a large number of data scientists, data specialists and graphic designers. For these two truly global institutions, this project is about embarking on a new digital revolution which they believe can deliver staggering results in terms of the fan data the app will be able to generate. No major football club has yet

Fans will be able to watch cameras focused on the bench, the tunnel and the press area during games

managed to Ànd a way to proÀle their millions of fans around the world and both Sánchez and Ayala think this platform is the technological solution, enabling the club to collate data on their fans which will in turn allow interconnection through an interactive experience. “What’s going to be the magic here?” asks Ayala. “It’s for Real Madrid to have the best proÀled number of their fans around the world bar none. That’s the idea.” Ayala labels this the “Áagship project of the company.” Sánchez adds, “Around 120 million [of our 450 million fans] are following us on social media. The amount of data we can really incorporate through the digital platform will also allow us to understand the behaviours of people depending on where they are, in order to answer in the form of experiences, premium content and services. So there is also a ‘big data’ approach to all these things.” The Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez, is present at the launch to unveil the new app to the world, together with the entire star-studded Los Blancos squad – an indication of the importance the club places on it. “Our strategic partnership with Microsoft allows us to transform into a digital club,” says Perez. “[The app] is complementing the experience of the match as a second screen. This club never stops and it is compelled to face the biggest challenges to create the best Real Madrid for the future.” The incoming collective bargaining rules will lessen the money Real Madrid will be SOCCEREXPRO | 53

The whole of the Real Madrid first team were in attendance at the launch of Realmadrid App

able to secure from TV rights agreements, which has accounted for around 25 per cent of the club’s overall revenue in recent times, but Sánchez is optimistic they have the vision, enterprise and conviction to seek out new ways to generate substantial revenue and stay at the top. The new app is the primary vehicle with which they will look to do this. A club like Real Madrid must take a multi-faceted approach to how they interact with their fans, with those in Indonesia perhaps seeking a different level of interaction to those in the US. So the app will offer tiered levels, with a subscription charged to those fans who want access to premium content. “The new audiovisual regulations for the national competitions are freezing the revenues that Real Madrid is going to have for this concept for the next, let’s say, three to six years,” admits Sánchez. “So we cannot expect a growth for the club in this area. But this has always been B2B. We have sold the rights to a producer and a producer has produced a signal and taken the product to the fans. “The digital transformation allows us to completely change this into an enormous B2C. So we can deliver our own premium content one by one to people around the planet. And it is just a matter of size. “We understand that the answer to this situation for our need of growth is transforming the business, basically through the digital world,” Sánchez continues. “They [Microsoft] came back with an idea of transforming the club in the digital world. Not only fan engagement but also business operations, and even team performance. [The app] contains basically everything which the fans are expecting to receive from us based on the research that has been done during the last few months.” 54 |

Microsoft’s data team will be recording hundreds of statistics on each player during matches and feeding this into the app, so fans who might like to know, for example, how many yards Cristiano Ronaldo has covered or how many passes he has made midway through a game will be able to see this instantly. “Everything that the club makes and the players do is of interest to our supporters,” Sánchez says. “And this is our content, we don’t need any kind of rights to it. We just need imagination to provide the content people are looking for. I understand the competition with La Liga will be very strong. The Champions League is very strong in their marketing, but there is room for the clubs because in the end the passion of the fans is with the clubs. “People give their heart to the club and to the players. It is usually not the type of relationship you have with the organiser of a competition: it’s not about La Liga; it’s not an emotional property itself. But the clubs are. We understand that the quality of this relationship is our main point, it’s our strength in this development.” A major element of the app is ‘gamiÀcation’ – the concept of applying game mechanics in non-game contexts to encourage interaction which, in this case, sees users earn rewards through their participation with the app. In simple terms, this means that the more information a user gives about themselves – which provides the club with the much-sought data proÀling – and the more interaction they have with the app, the more rewards they can earn. This is tailored to an extent to a fan’s locality, so for a fan in Indonesia it might mean the ability to earn a virtual kit to dress their avatar proÀle within the app, while for a fan in Madrid this could mean

winning a trip to watch the team train live at Ciudad Real Madrid. Thus, location services are also a fundamental aspect of the app’s functionality and have got Microsoft thinking of a number of ways in which to keep fans who are not in the stadium engaged in supporting the team during games. One such example is the idea that the millions of fans around the world will be able to join with those sat in the stadium in waving their phones in the air displaying the club scarf. “These kind of experiences matter for passionate people,” says Ayala. “Especially this passion in soccer that you can’t explain, because soccer is all about that.” People want experiences and fans will be able to send content, upload and view videos and interact with other users through the app. Yet a potential concern about feeding fans too much digitally led content during a match is that this might distract from the action taking place on the pitch. But does this really matter, particularly given that today’s young generation of so-called ‘millennials’ have grown-up expecting efÀcient and usable content delivered direct to the palms of their hands? “Today you are able to see three cameras [via the live streaming technology built into the app]: the bench, the press area and the tunnel,” says Ayala. “You can watch the app in English or Spanish. This is tailoring, which is so important. It’s all about what you want, which scenario you go for. “If you get distracted, if you’re continuing to be at Real Madrid because we’re giving you this experience, that’s what it’s all about. Certain fans just want to watch the game, and that’s perfectly Àne. But for others having that capability [to do more] I think is huge.” The app was designed for Real Madrid, but the platform it is built upon could be applied elsewhere. Gaining Àrst-mover advantage in this new digital sphere in order to press ahead of rivals like Barcelona, Manchester United and Bayern Munich is something Sánchez believes is crucial to future success, and with Microsoft alongside them, at least for the duration of the four-year contract, Real’s attentions are now Àrmly focused on the digital world. Realmadrid App is at the very heart of the digital transformation they are striving to bring about.


United States players Alex Morgan, Lauren Holiday, Abby Wambach and Whitney Engen celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2015 Fifa Women’s World Cup in Canada. A 5-2 victory over Japan in the final at Vancouver’s BC Place stadium secured the title, with captain Carli Lloyd scoring a 16-minute hat-trick.

Vaughn Ridley/EMPICS Sport



THE SCORE: BEHIND LA LIGA’S RIGHTS SPREE La Liga boasts the European champions and several of the world’s very best players but its financial models have caused competitive inequality in recent years. Now, its organising body has moved to create greater commercial and competitive balance, and grow a brand that can compete with England’s Premier League.


n the Àrst Saturday of June, Barcelona became champions of Europe for the Àfth time. It was their fourth Uefa Champions League title since 2006. Their great historical enemies, Real Madrid, had won the competition 12 months earlier, beating their own local rivals Atlético Madrid to take their tenth European crown. Between them, Real and Barça have also amassed an enviable array of the world’s best players. One of those two has provided the international game’s leading player every season since the Fifa World Player of the Year Award was combined with France Football’s Ballon D’Or in 2010 – although, admittedly, those players have been either Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. Nevertheless, that pair are also joined by the likes of Uruguay’s Luis Suárez and Brazilian idol Neymar in Catalonia, and Gareth Bale, the world’s most expensive player, in the capital. When the two teams meet in El Clásico, it is a global television event. The problem for Spanish football is that those two giants dominate in a manner that has become unhealthy for the rest of the league. On the Àeld, they have established a dual stranglehold on the national title that has been broken only once – by Atlético Madrid in 2014 – since 2004. Off it, their Ànancial power has become completely impossible for other clubs to match. According to the Deloitte Money League – which has measured the broadcast, sponsorship and matchday income of leading football teams every year for the past two decades – Real Madrid are the richest club in the world, earning €549.5 million from their footballing activities in 2014/15.

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Barcelona are fourth in the list, taking €484.6 million. Atlético Madrid, with €169.9 million, are 15th. No other Spanish club make the top 30. There are disparities, of course, in every national league. Manchester United, the world’s second richest club, made over €100 million more in 2013/14 than that year’s English champions, the handsomely backed Manchester City. The €487.5 million made by German champions Bayern Munich, meanwhile, can be set against the €261.5 million brought in by the Bundesliga’s other leading Ànancial power, Borussia Dortmund. It is in Spain, however, that the problem has long been most pronounced. Real Madrid and Barcelona are both major international brands in their own right, and produce the requisite sponsorship income to match. Both can also Àll large stadiums – the 85,454-capacity Santiago Bernabéu in Real’s case, and the 99,354-seater Camp Nou in Barcelona. The two clubs are engaged in projects to modernise those grounds in the coming years. The fundamental reason for their Ànancial dominance, however, has been their ability to bring in huge income through their own television deals. Until earlier this year, La Liga was the only major domestic league in Europe that still allowed its clubs to go to market for TV rights individually. The Premier League has withstood enormous pressure from its members in years past to break from its model of near Ànancial parity in television income, in which the highestearning club takes just 1.57 times as much as the lowest earner. Its reward has been a competition and a brand with which broadcasters want

to be involved. Earlier this year, it signed domestic TV deals with Sky Sports and BT Sport worth a combined UK£5.1 billion from 2016 to 2019. Its international rights sales have also started well, with NBC doubling down in the US on a six-year renewal worth a reported US$1 billion. Other leagues have now seen the merits of the English approach and those that had operated a club-by-club model, such as Italy’s Serie A, have now switched. For the LFP, which operates Spanish football’s top two divisions, the collectivisation of rights sales has been a long-term target. The set-up which had been in existence has created twin problems. One is the competitive disparity that Real and Barça’s Ànancial pre-eminence has created. The other is that without a collective proposition to sell, the Spanish top Áight has not blossomed into an international brand in the same way as the Premier League. The clamour for a collective model had been met by a din of objection from the top two clubs but towards the end of last season, Ànally, came a breakthrough. The LFP managed to agree terms on a framework that would establish a new distribution model for a three-year domestic TV rights package, whereby half of the money granted to clubs from rights sales would be handed out according to league positions over the previous Àve years, while the other half will be distributed evenly. In effect, this enshrined some level of commercial advantage for Real and Barcelona – both in the top two for most of that period – and acknowledged their contribution to the proÀle and popularity of the league, all while moving towards a more equitable system.


Unusually, and in keeping with the manner in which a deal had needed to be forced through, the arrangement was made law under royal decree at the start of May. Even then, however, there were objections. The national football association, RFEF, was unhappy with the seven per cent cut on offer for relegated teams and organisations other than clubs from the top two divisions. It supported a strike by the players’ union, the AFE, which brieÁy threatened to halt the last two rounds of the Spanish league season and the Copa del Rey Ànal. That strike, however, was ruled unlawful by the Spanish High Court and the season ended as normal. The LFP, meanwhile, proceeded with its Àrst ever rights sale process under the new model, bringing it forward from a planned start date in 2016. In mid-July this bore fruit in the shape of a €600 million, one-year deal with Telefynica – a marginal increase on the previous deal, but one which will see money shared more evenly. Vodafone and Orange subsequently picked up access to the pay-TV portion of rights from Telefynica in accordance with Spanish regulations which bar exclusivity in the premium broadcast sector. In the past couple of years, with negotiations over collectivisation ongoing, the LFP has also taken signiÀcant steps to address the league’s lack of brand coherence, at least relative to the Premier League. The Àrst was a radical change in how the league was pitched to international broadcasters. In 2013/14, the LFP began staggering league Àxtures in Spain across the weekend, meaning that there would always be matches played at prime time in key territories across the world. Crucially, viewers in those countries would not just be served up a regular diet of Real Madrid and Barcelona, meaning that clubs further down the top Áight would also be given exposure. In concert with that came greater efforts to take clubs to play in front of fans in those overseas markets. The LFP World Challenge project, involving teams other than Real Madrid and Barcelona, began in early 2014. It pairs pre, post and mid-season friendlies in countries around the world with trade missions, and is backed by the Marca Espaxa national branding project and the public trade and investment corporation ICEX. In July 58 |

It is hoped that the new TV rights deal will help Sporting Gijón compete with Real Madrid

beer brand Mahou San Miguel became the lead sponsor of the tour, which has made stops in 11 countries in 2015 alone. This has been accompanied by other grassroots activities. In August, for example, the LFP entered into a partnership with US Club Soccer, an organisation which aids in the development of football clubs across the United States. The league will provide its training curriculum, run reciprocal coaching education seminars and create elite player training opportunities in Spain for the body’s 500,000 members. In 2015, the campaign to establish the league properly as an international property has taken on another dimension. Earlier this year, working with international rights marketing partner Mediapro, the LFP established ‘La Liga’ as the public-facing brand for the league, assuming the name by which it has long been popularly known. That has come ahead of the latest round of international rights sales which, while barely beginning to make up ground Ànancially on the Premier League, has at least broadened the competition’s reach in foreign markets. The Mediapro strategy has generally been to sell deals on three-year terms in Europe and established markets, and Àve-year terms elsewhere – taking it to the end of its own contract with the LFP. It opened the tender process for its new cycle to 2018 or 2020 in June and has since had a busy summer. Over a dozen deals were conÀrmed in the Spanish close season, taking in scores of territories worldwide. Among the most signiÀcant was a Àve-year renewal with state broadcaster

CCTV in China, where the league also secured intriguing deals with online streaming service PPTV and with the Suning Corporation, which will show La Liga games live in its electronics and homeware stores in 300 cities across the country. Those tie in with a new ‘longterm’ partnership between the LFP and the Chinese government, as well as sponsorship deals in the country with the likes of Snow Beer. In the UK, Sky Sports retained its long-held coverage of La Liga with a new three-year deal – despite local reports which had insisted rival BT Sport was about to add Spanish football to its new wealth of European output. ESPN took the rights in Spanishspeaking South America, while Digicel will show matches in 25 countries across the Caribbean. MP & Silva tied up an eclectic deal to distribute rights across Scandinavia and in Finland, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia and Japan. In Belgium, La Liga will help launch the new Eleven Sports Network set up by MP & Silva co-founder Andrea Radrizzani. OTE took the rights in Greece for another three years, while agreements were also signed with Fox Sports in Italy and Sport1 in the Netherlands. As numerous as these partnerships are it is likely that they will be blown out of the water, in Ànancial terms, by those signed by the Premier League in the months ahead. Nevertheless, they are evidence of a strategy that could soon lift La Liga’s rank and Àle to the same level as their equivalents in England.



1 USA MLS players ratify collective bargaining agreement Players in Major League Soccer (MLS) have ratiÀed a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the league until 2019. The new deal, negotiations for which had brieÁy threatened to delay the start of the 2015 season, was approved by 91 per cent of MLS players. Among other measures, it introduces an US$11,500 increase in the minimum salary for senior players and a Àve per cent rise in the overall salary budget for MLS teams, which will reach US$4.24 million by 2019. Other rule changes relating to free agency terms and win bonuses were also introduced. 60 |

2 ENGLAND Manchester United kit launch breaks records for Adidas Adidas has revealed that its launch of Manchester United’s new kit for the 2015/16 season was the most successful in the history of the brand and the club. The German sportswear giant replaced Nike as the Premier League side’s kit supplier on 1st August after agreeing a world record UK£750million, ten-year deal. Adidas has conÀrmed the launch of the new home kit delivered over a month’s worth of forecasted sales within the Àrst Àve days, while retailers across the globe reported a 200 per cent rise in day one sales compared to last year’s launch. Adidas’ Manchester city centre branch reported a week’s worth of sales on the Àrst day.

3 BELGIUM Crowdfunding experiment gets underway in Belgium Following promotion back to the Belgian top Áight, Jupiler Pro League side Sint-Truidense VV are experimenting with a novel approach to funding their transfer dealings. In partnership with Swiss start-up, STVV are offering fans the opportunity to invest up to €1,000 each in new talent at the club. Initially this is limited to STVV’s new centre-forward, 18-year-old Greek striker Panagiotis Kynigopoulos, for whom the team hope to raise €300,000. If the player is sold on, fans who contributed will receive a return on their investment. STVV general director Philippe Bormans describes the process as “a mix of the stock market, gambling and supporting [a club]”.



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Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport

4 NETHERLANDS KNVB launches new league to integrate domestic football structure The Dutch Football Association (KNVB) has launched a new nationwide league in the Netherlands which will integrate professional and amateur football with a mandatory system of promotion and relegation. Currently, the top two divisions in the country – the top-tier Eredivisie and second-tier Eerste divisie – are professional, and the leagues below these – the Topklasse, Hoofdklasse and Eerste Klasse – are all amateur. Set to come into effect from the 2016/17 season, the hybrid Landelijke divisie will consist of 18 clubs – 14 Topklasse teams and four professional reserve teams – and will serve as the third tier between the professional and amateur leagues.

Marco Vasini/AP/Press Association Images


5 ITALY Catania relegated to third tier for match-fixing involvement Catania have been relegated to the Lega Pro, the third tier of professional football in Italy, for their involvement in a match-Àxing scandal last season. The Sicilian club have also received a €150,000 Àne and a 12-point deduction for the 2015/16 season, while president Antonino Pulvirenti (above) has been banned for Àve years and Àned €300,000. The Italian Football Federation (FIGC), which handed down the punishment, said the matches under investigation were the Àve consecutive wins in March and April and the draw against Livorno in May. Catania Ànished in 15th position in the Serie B, two points above the relegation zone. The club say they will appeal the decision.

6 GERMANY Bayern choose Shanghai for next international office Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich will take another step in their strategy to internationalise their business when they open an ofÀce in Shanghai. Bayern already have an ofÀce in New York but a recent pre-season tour of China convinced club ofÀcials that Shanghai was an appropriate location for the next stage of their expansion. J|rg Wacker, their head of internationalisation and strategy, explained in an interview with Handelsblatt that the decision was taken on the strength of Shanghai’s connections to other major cities in China and Asia. Bayern’s Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund, and the league itself, have ofÀces in Singapore.


7 BOLIVIA Raid on headquarters of Bolivian Football Federation Police in Cochabamba have raided the ofÀces of the Bolivian Football Federation (FBF) after ofÀcials failed to cooperate in a corruption probe. OfÀcers entered the FBF headquarters on 22nd August after prosecutors investigating its president, Carlos Chavez (above), complained of receiving incomplete information after requests to the organisation. Chavez, who is also the treasurer for South American confederation Conmebol, is one of Àve senior FBF ofÀcials under investigation by the Bolivian authorities. He was arrested on 17th July, accused of a scam involving a charity set up for the family of a fan who died at an international game. According to prosecutors, the family has not received any money from the fund.

8 SIERRA LEONE Domestic football returns after Ebola ban The Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) was in the process of putting together a season-ending calendar of Àxtures after a ban on football and other sporting activities was lifted in the country. Sierra Leone was one of the most severely affected countries by the Ebola crisis that struck west Africa last year. The ban on sport was put in place a year ago to prevent the spread of the disease, but president Ernest Koroma lifted the suspension after the number of reported Ebola cases decreased. While the domestic sport suspension has been lifted, Sierra Leone is still banned from hosting international matches by African football’s governing body, the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

9 CAMEROON Cameroon mourns another loss Leopold Angong Oben, a 26-yearold striker with Cameroonian second division side Dynamo de Douala, passed away on 23rd August after collapsing on the pitch during a game. Oben lost consciousness when he was fouled in the 33rd minute of Dynamo’s game against Colombe du Dja-et-Lobo, and, despite being rushed to hospital, sadly lost his life shortly thereafter. The cause of death has not been disclosed. The tragedy comes just three weeks after Dynamo’s 27-year-old goalkeeper Ferdinand Mbog died following a period of illness, and 12 years on from the death of Cameroon international MarcVivien Foe due to a heart condition at the 2003 Fifa Confederations Cup. Foe’s loss sent shockwaves through the world of football and led to signiÀcant changes in the medical testing of players.

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KUWAIT Gulf Cup of Nations postponed The 23rd Gulf Cup of Nations, due to take place later this year, has been postponed until December 2016. It had been scheduled to be played from 22nd December 2015 to 4th January 2016. The Kuwaiti organisers, who stepped in to replace Iraq after it withdrew due to Ànancial difÀculties, have cited the need to improve stadiums for the next edition of the biennial tournament, which will feature the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Yemen alongside the hosts. The postponement also comes against the backdrop of a difÀcult security situation in the region, which has seen forces from the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain engaged in Saudi-led military action against Houthi rebels in Yemen.


11 MALAYSIA ASEAN body explores World Cup bid The ten countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to run a feasibility study ahead of a potential bid to jointly host the 2034 Fifa World Cup. Malaysian youth and sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin (above) told local media that the agreement was made during a ministerial meeting on sport in Kuala Lumpur in early August. Khairy said the outcomes of the study would be made available to all ten ASEAN nations – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam – for approval before attention was turned to the bidding process, which Khairy would aim to kick-start in 2019.

12 CHINA CFA breaks away from CPC The Chinese Football Association (CFA) is set to split from the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) as part of a series of reforms designed to increase the standard of sport in the country. Despite the popularity of football in the world’s most populous nation, China are 79th in the Fifa rankings at the time of writing. The separation of the CFA from the state is intended to improve China’s competitiveness in international competitions, but also help the nation’s long-term goal of holding a Fifa World Cup Ànals. Fifa, which discourages government intervention in football, has long tolerated but frowned upon the links between the CFA and China’s ruling party.




SIGNINGS A selection of the major deals agreed by the world’s leading clubs, players and competitions in the past three months. For daily updates visit or follow @SportsPro on Twitter.

NBC renews Premier League broadcast deal NBC Sports Group has agreed a six-year extension to its broadcast deal with England’s Premier League. The renewal will see NBC continue to show all 380 Premier League games each year across a range of platforms, including the main NBC network, until the end of the 2021/22 season. Matches will also be available on the NBC Sports Network, USA Network, Telemundo and NBC Universo, as well as through the Premier League Extra Time TV package and the NBC Sports Live Extra digital service. No Ànancial terms were announced but with ESPN and Fox Sports also reportedly in contention, NBC is likely to have committed considerably more than the US$85 million it is currently paying each year under the terms it agreed with the league in October 2012. That deal was one of the most signiÀcant ever signed by an American broadcaster and an overseas league. According to local reports, the new deal is worth around US$1 billion over its six-year term. The extension will kick-start the Premier League’s international round of rights sales as it looks to build similar growth to its live domestic TV deals, which it renewed with Sky Sports and BT Sport for a combined UK£5.14 billion earlier this year. “We are excited to continue our tremendous partnership with the

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Premier League, and we look forward to presenting the world’s Ànest soccer league to Americans for many years to come,” said NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus. “As sports fans, there’s nothing better than waking up on a weekend morning to live and relevant events, and we at NBC Sports are thrilled to continue to be this outlet for the fastgrowing Premier League fanbase.” Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore paid tribute to the “fantastic job” NBC had done in the opening two years of its coverage,

adding: “Outstanding production, expert analysis, and wide audience reach have all been beyond expectations. First-rate creative marketing and promotional campaigns have driven interest in our clubs, and the competition as a whole, to unprecedented levels. NBC Sports has committed to extend partnership activation and promotion of clubs in future seasons – a signiÀcant factor in the awarding of these rights – and we look forward to continuing our excellent working relationship with them for the next seven years.”

GolTV acquires Venezuelan rights The Venezuelan Football Federation, the governing body for the game in the South American country, has sold the exclusive broadcast rights for its national club competitions and international Àxtures to GolTV. GolTV, an America-based Spanishlanguage television network operating throughout North and South America, will begin airing the Venezuelan Primera

División from 2016. GolTV’s agreement will see it show Àve games a week from the country’s top division in Venezuela - one match on Fridays and two on Saturdays and Sundays. It will also show selected games in other markets through its cable and satellite services. The rights deal runs for two years, and is reported by Venezuelan news agency Noticias24 as being worth US$20 million in total.


Bayern renew Bundesliga’s biggest shirt deal German giants FC Bayern Munich have extended and ‘intensiÀed’ their longstanding partnership arrangement with Deutsche Telekom until 2023. The new six-year agreement is an early renewal of the existing deal, which had been due to run until 2017, and extends a partnership Àrst established in 2002. As part of the deal, Deutsche Telekom remains the main and shirt sponsor of the Bundesliga champions and its branding will continue to feature on the front of the team’s playing shirts. Financial terms of the new deal are not known but it is sure to far exceed any other shirt sponsorship agreement in the Bundesliga. According to, the previous contract between the two parties, signed in 2012, saw a 20 per cent increase in the sponsorship fee, taking

Fifa retains strategic communications firm Teneo Holdings Fifa has retained corporate advisory and strategic communications Àrm Teneo Holdings. The embattled world governing body, which is in Áux following the fallout from several arrests of its senior ofÀcials on corruption charges, has conÀrmed it has hired Teneo, but no further details on the company’s role have been revealed. Fifa’s own in-house director of communications, Walter De Gregorio, quit in June to be replaced on a temporary basis by Nicolas Maingot. New York-based Teneo Holdings was founded in 2011 and is led by former Nike brand president Charlie Denson. The company’s president, Doug Band, was a special advisor to former US president Bill Clinton and was a director of the US’ bid for the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

the value of the deal to an estimated €30 million (US$33 million) per year. A core element of the new partnership is the ‘StadiumVision’ project, which has been launched ahead of the new Bundesliga season and, according to the club, means the Allianz Arena is now ‘the most modern multimedia stadium in the world’. Over the past nine months, Deutsche Telekom has installed around 115 km of Àbre optic cable and some 940 Wi-Fi antennas throughout the 71,000-capacity stadium. To coincide with the launch of the new network, Deutsche Telekom has also created a new smartphone and tablet app providing users with up-tothe-minute data, instant replays and different camera angles. Deutsche Telekom has also taken over the entire IT operation at the Allianz Arena, according to Bayern.

Teneo Sports co-president Terrence Burns is a bid communications and strategy specialist. His former company, Helios Partners, worked on the successful Russian bid for the 2018 Fifa World Cup.

Josep Maria Bartomeu Josep Maria Bartomeu has been elected as president of FC Barcelona for a sixyear term. He was formerly Barcelona’s vice-president and has stood in as president of the Spanish champions since January 2014, after Sandro Rosell resigned amid a row over the transfer of Brazilian star Neymar. Peter Filopoulos Australian club Perth Glory have appointed Peter Filopoulos as chief executive. The 47-year-old left his position as chief commercial ofÀcer at Swimming Australia to join the A-League side. Previous roles have also included that of chief executive at National Soccer League (NSL) club South Melbourne FC in the 1990s, and stints at Australian Football League (AFL) teams Hawthorn and North Melbourne. Anthony Radich Anthony Radich has returned to Australian A-League outÀt Perth Glory as their new chief operating ofÀcer, having previously acted as general manager from 2011 to 2014. He returns from a role at independent government health initiative Healthway to replace John Boardman and oversee all aspects of the club’s media, marketing, corporate and commercial operations. Dr François Carrard Fifa has announced that former International Olympic Committee (IOC) director general Dr François Carrard is to lead its new reform taskforce. The Swiss lawyer, who led the IOC between 1989 and 2003, will chair a 15-member panel that will present a list of reform proposals to the Fifa congress in February. SOCCEREXPRO | 65

FSV Mainz sign ten-year Infront deal Bundesliga club 1. FSV Mainz 05 have signed a ten-year marketing partnership with the Infront Sports & Media agency. The agreement, which begins immediately and will run until the end of the 2024/25 season, will see Infront take the exclusive marketing rights for the majority of the club’s premium commercial inventory. The deal includes the club’s main and shirt sponsorship packages, stadium naming rights, board advertising at the club’s home matches, as well as hospitality packages. Infront has marketed FSV Mainz rights in the past, but not on an exclusive basis. Infront executive Axel Pfeiffer will lead a team of seven Infront staff, including three former employees of the Bundesliga team, as well as FSV Mainz’ inhouse marketing team, on the commercialisation of the rights. Infront has guaranteed the club a certain level of Ànancial return each season. While the agency has not conÀrmed the Àgures, generous estimates in the Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper suggest the club will receive an upfront payment of €10 million, followed by an annual fee of €25 million. The club recently signed a threeyear deal with double-glazing company ProÀne, an agreement thought to be worth €12 million. “Our club’s internal marketing team, led by Dag Heydecker, has done excellent work and we could increase 66 |

Hublot clocks Uefa Champions League partnership Luxury watch brand Hublot has signed up as the ofÀcial licensed watch partner of the Uefa Champions League for the next three years. As part of the new partnership, which runs until 2018, the Swiss company has created a new fourth ofÀcial board for use in Europe’s elite club competition. Inspired by a Hublot watch, the board will be used by ofÀcials to indicate additional time at the end of the match as well as player substitutions. It will be used for the Àrst time this week. The partnership also includes the Uefa Europa League, for which Hublot has designed a separate fourth ofÀcial board.

“We are delighted to welcome Hublot as the ofÀcial licensed watch partner of the Uefa Champions League and Uefa Europa League,” said Guy-Laurent Epstein, the marketing director of Uefa Events SA. “The brand Àts perfectly with the prestigious and exciting nature of our top club competitions. We look forward to developing new bespoke timepieces together, as well as seeing the newly designed fourth ofÀcial boards in action.” Hublot previously created a special watch for the 2012 Uefa European Championship, while its football client list also includes Fifa, Premier League champions Chelsea and their manager, Jose Mourinho (left).

the marketing revenues of the club Àvefold of what it was eight years ago,” explained FSV Mainz president Harald Strutz. “However, due to the continued rapid development of the Bundesliga, it is our responsibility to fully exploit our economic resources and as such maintain our competitiveness. We are

delighted that with Infront we have gained a great and experienced partner – one who can optimally support our marketing with its sales strength and its national and international networks. Through Ànancial guarantees we are assured high economic planning security and thus a basis for further sportive development of Mainz 05.”


Kenyan Premier League gets new title sponsor The top tier of league football in Kenya will now be known as the SportPesa Premier League, after the east African bookmaker signed a four and a halfyear deal worth Sh450 million (US$4.5 million) to take the title sponsorship. SportPesa replaces Tusker, which ended its Sh270 million deal a year early.

The remaining ten matches of the 2015 edition of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) will be known by the new name, as will the entirety of the preceding four seasons from 2016 to 2019. The brand is already the sponsor of the SportPesa Super Eight in the country, a grassroots knock-out tournament, but this is its Àrst venture into top-tier sport in Kenya.

Italian great Del Piero endorses Vespa motorbikes Italian great Alessandro Del Piero (below) has become a brand ambassador for Vespa, the classic motorcycle brand owned by Piaggio, in India. The 2006 Fifa World Cup winner, 40, will visit India on 1st September as part of his association with the company, according to Indian press reports. Piaggio launched the Vespa brand in India in April 2012 and now manufactures the bikes at its facility in Baramati, Maharashtra.

Del Piero represented the Delhi Dynamos in the Indian Super League (ISL) last year, following a 19-year career with Italian giants Juventus and a two-season stint with Australian side Sydney FC. “We are very excited to have Alessandro Del Piero join the Vespa family here in India,” said Piaggio India managing director Stefano Pelle. “Vespa and Del Piero have many things in common, two worldwide famous Italian symbols recognised for their successes and profound impact on public opinion.”

Richard Masters, Paul Molnar and Bill Bush England’s Premier League has undertaken an executive reshufÁe in the wake of chief executive Richard Scudamore’s move to the role of executive chairman and Nic Coward’s resignation as general secretary. Director of sales and marketing Richard Masters has been promoted to the role of managing director, retaining responsibility for the league’s sales and marketing efforts. Paul Molnar moves up from the role of director of international broadcasting and media operations to be director of broadcasting. Bill Bush becomes executive director with responsibility for strategy policy and corporate affairs. Simon Breen English club Notts County FC have appointed Simon Breen as chief Ànancial ofÀcer. He will oversee all of the Ànancial functions within the club, working closely with chief operations ofÀcer Luke NegusHill and Aileen Trew, the League Two outÀt’s chief executive. Robert Faulkner Italian side Inter Milan have appointed former Uefa executive Robert Faulkner as their new chief communications ofÀcer. Faulkner joins the Serie A club from Leidar Communications, where he was a senior consultant working across the company’s sporting and corporate divisions. Peter Gilliéron Peter Gilliéron, the president of the Swiss Football Association (SFV-ASF), has been re-elected unopposed for a fourth term in ofÀce. Gilliéron was Àrst elected to the post in June 2009, and has been a member of the Uefa Executive Committee since 2011. He is also chairman of the Uefa Fair Play and Social Responsibility Committee. SOCCEREXPRO | 67

Beckham Miami United receive approval for Miami stadium David Beckham’s (right) investment group, Beckham Miami United, has reached an initial agreement over plans for a proposed privately funded 25,000-seater arena in Miami. The agreement is for the new stadium, planned to accommodate Beckham’s proposed new and as yet unnamed Major League Soccer franchise for the start of the 2018 season, to be built next door to the Miami Marlins’ Marlin Park. The site was previously home to the Orange Bowl, where the Miami Dolphins National Football League franchise played before it was demolished to make way for Marlins Park in 2008. The Miami Marlins baseball team is a member of the Eastern Division

of the Major League Baseball (MLB) National League. A spokesman for Beckham Miami United said: “Today’s meeting with Mayor Regalado was another positive step toward bringing a world class soccer club to Miami. We’re still in the early planning stages and several viable options still exist, but our preferred stadium location is the former Orange Bowl site. “David, Marcelo and Simon are thrilled by the initial outpouring of support we’ve received from our fans and we’re excited about sharing our plans with the city, county and community soon.” The news comes after more than 18 months of discussions with city lawmakers over a potential location for the stadium in Miami.

Thai businessman buys AC Milan stake for €480 million Silvio Berlusconi has agreed to sell a 48 per cent stake in Italian club AC Milan to Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol (below).

The preliminary binding agreement, reportedly agreed at Berlusconi’s residences in Italy, is worth about €480 million (US$527 million) and must be Ànalised by 30th September. As part of the deal, Taechaubol, 39,

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will become a vice president of AC Milan, while Berlusconi, who has owned the Serie A club since 1986, will remain as president. The former Italian prime minister will also continue to control a majority stake in the club through his family’s holding company Fininvest. Reports suggest Taechaubol, who made his fortune in private equity, will have the right to appoint a third chief executive alongside Adriano Galliani and Barbara Berlusconi. Taechaubol, who is acquiring the stake through his Thai Prime Fund, posted a photo of himself shaking hands with Berlusconi on Instagram. ‘A great honor to complete the AC Mlian Agreement with President Berlusconi, a phenomenal leader,’ read the accompanying caption. During Berlusconi’s 29-year tenure, AC Milan have won eight Serie A titles and Àve European trophies. They have, however, struggled in recent years, with their last domestic crown coming in 2011 and last season’s Serie A campaign ending in a disappointing tenth-place Ànish. According to Yahoo News, the club has debts of around €250 million and made a loss of €91 million last year. Taechaubol’s investment in the Rossoneri means both Milan clubs now have signiÀcant Asian backing. In 2013, International Sports Capital, a company led by Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir, was thought to have paid around US$475 million for a 70 per cent stake in Internazionale.


Corinthians and Flamengo ditch EA for Konami Top-tier Brazilian sides Corinthians and Flamengo have signed exclusive licensing agreements with Konami, makers of the Pro Evolution Soccer video game. According to a report in Maquina do Esporte, the two teams opted to sign an exclusive agreement for Konami’s upcoming Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 game after the Japanese company offered 20 times more than rival games manufacturer EA Sports. Consequently, the teams’ marks and player names will not feature in EA’s next Fifa game. The report indicates that, EA’s offer of almost US$3,000 was rejected by both teams. EA Sports has licensing deals in place with every top-Áight Brazilian team except Corinthians and Flamengo.

Emirates Airline on board for UAE’s Arabian Gulf League Emirates Airline has signed a deal to sponsor the Arabian Gulf League, the top professional league in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Dubai-based carrier becomes the official airline of the competition, in a three-year deal reportedly worth Dh25 million (US$6.8 million). Emirates will have branding at all 182 league matches and this weekend’s Arabian Gulf Super Cup, as well as 45 Arabian Gulf Cup ties and 26 televised Under-21 League fixtures.

Klaus Filbry The German Football League (DFL) has appointed Klaus Filbry to the board as its new operations director. Filbry, the general manager of Bundesliga club SV Werder Bremen, joined the DFL board on 1st July. He replaced Heribert Bruchhagen, who left at his own request on 30th June.

The deal also includes in-game promotional opportunities, hospitality, and digital and social media elements. “Sponsorship has always been a vital component of our marketing strategy,” said Emirates chief executive officer Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. “With our new partnership with the Arabian Gulf League, we will be in an even stronger position to add value to the UAE’s professional league by capitalising on opportunities that will link local clubs with international football teams through focused collaboration.”

Ruben Gnanalingam Major shareholder Ruben Gnanalingam has been named as the co-chairman of English club Queen’s Park Rangers, a position he will share with current chairman Tony Fernandes. Gnanalingam has been a shareholder at QPR since the beginning of Fernandes’ involvement in 2011, and says he is now looking forward to taking on a more hands-on role with the Championship side. David Banget French club Olympique Lyonnais have named David Banget as their new chief digital ofÀcer. Banget, who previously worked for listings websites 1001 Listes and A Vendre A Louer, will work across the different online outlets and services used by supporters of last year’s Ligue 1 runners-up. He will also develop OL’s digital strategy. Paul Barber and Jez Moxey The Football League, which runs the second, third and fourth tier of the English league pyramid, has made two new appointments to its board of directors. Brighton & Hove Albion chief executive Paul Barber (above) and Wolverhampton Wanderers chief executive Jez Moxey (below) will both take seats on the board. Meanwhile Milwall chief executive Andy Ambler has been appointed as a representative for clubs in the third tier, League One. SOCCEREXPRO | 69



‘Portuguese winger Luis Figo has joined Real Madrid from arch-rivals Barcelona to become history’s most expensive transfer. Figo, 27 will play for Madrid starting with the upcoming season. Figo’s joining Real Madrid has been rumoured for days in the Spanish press following an agreement he reportedly signed early this month with Perez as the latter campaigned to become Real Madrid’s president. Perez ultimately won, unseating Lorenzo Sanz. )LJRDUULYHGLQ0DGULGRQDSULYDWHMHWIRUĂ€QDO meetings with Madrid executives and to undergo the compulsory medical examination. He had tried to evade throngs of aggressive reporters who had hunted the star in recent days as he had a holiday on an exclusive beach with his wife and daughter on the Italian island of Sardinia. The deal eclipses the price tag on Argentine striker Hernan Crespo, paid to AC 70 |

JOSE HUESCA/AP/Press Association Images

For all the frenetic and expensive activity in this summer’s transfer window, one thing always seemed likely: Real Madrid would retain their world record for the highest transfer fee ever paid for one player. The Spanish giants have set a new mark Àve times in the last 15 years, and paid Tottenham Hotspur a reported ₏100 million to secure the services of Gareth Bale in 2013. The Welshman joined a list of record-breaking recruits which includes Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka in 2009, and Zinedine Zidane in 2001. But it was with the signing of Luis Figo from bitter rivals Barcelona in 2000 that Real changed the transfer market forever. Then at the peak of his considerable powers, the Portuguese winger was believed to have taken a fee from ambitious Real presidential candidate Florentino PÊrez to sign a pre-contract agreement – thinking Real could never afford to pay the exorbitant reserve price Barcelona had set for his transfer. He was wrong, and the subsequent deal kick-started the Galåctico era that has deÀned Real throughout the century so far. This was how the Associated Press reported the news on 24th July 2000.

Luis Figo with Real legend Alfredo di StÊfano on his unveiling as the world’s most expensive player

Parma by Lazio. The signing of Figo, one of the stars of the recent Euro 2000 tournament, received a vigorous thumbs down from press in his home country. “Figo represented the little that was left of purity and romanticism in soccer,� said daily Diario de Noticias, calling the winger the last great casualty of soccer’s moneygrabbing. “Luis Figo must have learned from other players and agents that the world he inhabits permits him to

VHHNSURÀWGLVGDLQLQJPRUDOLW\DQGQLFHWLHV¾ commented sports daily A Bola. Barcelona’s loss of Figo, just after club elections, comes on the heels of another Madrid deal. The club said Friday night it had agreed to transfer French striker Nicolas Anelka to Paris-Saint German for £22m. The deal was reached between Real Madrid’s new president Florentino Perez and his PSG counterpart Laurent Perpere and will be signed next week.’


The masterplanning of Singapore Sports Hub, Asia’s ďŹ rst venue to integrate sports, leisure, entertainment and lifestyle, was led by AECOM. Image: Arup Associates Singapore Sports Hub Arup Associates + DP Architects + AECOM

A sports hub which regenerates the community also needs to protect the environment. This pioneering design conserves natural resources, uses zero carbon cooling, and looks green and lush.

SoccerexPro Issue 8  
SoccerexPro Issue 8  

Issue 8 of SoccerexPro magazine.