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How stakeholders influence football clubs' strategy?

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par Eric Bailly
Staffordshire University (UK) - M.Sc. in European Management Strategy 2003

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4.2.3. Employees

In companies, employees expect to be paid at the end of the month, to get work satisfaction and recognition, to be trained and have good working conditions. It is the same in football clubs. But there is another expectation which comes from the sportive aspect of their employer. They expect the team to win, so that they feel part of the success. It is not only a question of pride, but also of budget: when the team wins, clubs get more income and is able to invest in training or commodities for their employees.

The power of the employees comes from many sources. First, they are the working force of clubs and they run the day to day business. If employees' expectations are not met, their productivity will decrease because of lack of motivation. Football cubs are managed like teams and if an element of the team fails, the whole team fails. If employees do not work efficiently anymore, the working conditions of the players will be worse; the merchandising sales will decrease... It is the same situation than in any traditional company. Extreme cases are strikes. Although France is worldwide famous for its strikes, none have ever been reported concerning football clubs. Nevertheless, it is a threat managers have to deal with. According to Mr Bigeard, the 240 employees of R.C. Lens have to be in harmony with the clubs, they are an essential part of clubs' success. The power of employees has official represents in France with the SNAAF, which is football clubs' employees union. This union puts pressure on the Ligue de Football Professionnel to always increase minimum wages. In France, football clubs employees are ruled by special convention and earn substantially more money than in any other private company. The British system is much more liberal and, although unions exist, their power is very limited.

4.2.4. Players and Coaches

This stakeholder category exists only in sports clubs. It is a particularity. Players and coaches are employees of the clubs and so have similar expectations: to get paid for their work, to be trained and to have good working conditions. The most important expectation is sportive success. In players and coaches' contracts financial bonuses are often related to success (when the team wins); it means that their salary increases. Players also expect to play in a notorious club to become popular and to integrate their national squad. They also expect to play for / to coach the best clubs of the world. Currently, every player / coach wishes to integrate Manchester United or Real Madrid, to win competitions. Since the Bosman rule3 is applied in Europe, players attached to their clubs are exceptions. It is more and more difficult for clubs to keep their best players. Moreover, as players cost an important amount of money (Zidane was sold by Juventus Turin to Real Madrid for £50 million), they are an entire part of the club's capital. Clubs also expect to increase their income by selling their players at an interesting price.

The power of the coaches and players on their club has almost no limit. They are the key to success through their performance on the pitch. Sport has always been unpredictable, but players working in bad conditions or not in harmony with the club lead the club to a sportive (and so financial) disaster. They also cost between fifty and seventy percent of clubs' total expenses! Players are also the image of the club. By their behaviour on the pitch, their results, their relationship with sponsors and fans, their interviews, they create clubs' image. So, who would like to be criticized on television by its own players / coach? It is delicate to control players, moreover that they are now considered like pop stars. Players are even stronger because most of them are members of unions (The PFA in England and the UNFP in France). These unions' influence is mostly based on wages: they set up generous minimum wages and clubs are not allowed to avoid this bottom line. This is true for important football stars as well as for young players signing their first contract. The unions are always aware of the television deals between clubs and the League, to put pressure and increase again the players' wages.

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