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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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4.3. How football clubs manage and communicate with their stakeholders

4.3.1. Fans

Football clubs are very committed into communicating with their fans. Despite managers are confronted to this crowd every week on match day and can feel fans' mood there, they always try to improve communication with them. Clubs now have an efficient tool, to get their fans' opinion: they use Internet forum on the clubs' website. It is an expression place where managers can easily discuss with fans, according to Mr Weathley of Liverpool F.C.

R.C. Lens has employed a fans' association member to deal with its supporters, when Liverpool F.C. created an association with ex-players for the same job. Nevertheless managers, coach and players often meet fans to talk with them and feel their desire. Liverpool F.C. organises dinners with fans from the mass, not fans' represents, and they often consult them through surveys like for the creation of the new stadium. The group `Anfield 4 Ever' opposed to the stadium move was invited to a meeting to discuss this

How stakeholders influence football clubs' strategy ? September 2003

matter with the clubs' managers. At R.C. Lens, the president of the club, the coach and some players organises meetings with the fans' represents every three months.

Fans expect to access to good games for reasonable prices, and they also expect their team to recruit the best players to win. According to Mendelow and Archer's models, the clubs should have a protectionist attitude towards them because they are key players. In a certain way clubs do, they try to keep them. It is even truer in Liverpool City where two clubs of Premier League share the same stadium. Liverpool F.C. benchmarks the Everton club about its pricing policy, in order not to loose its fans by fixing pricing not accessible to the community. Liverpool F.C. also improves regularly its structure to welcome fans as comfortably as possible in Anfield Road stadium. Thirty-five percent of the tickets are sold on match day to allow anyone to go to the games, not only season members. The waiting list to become a season member is booked for the next three years! To avoid its fans frustration and to develop commercial potential, Liverpool F.C. will play, in 2006, in a brand new stadium which capacity is about 60,000 to compare with the current one: 44,000 seats. Although Mintel (2002) reports that Liverpool F.C. does not really exploit its commercial potential, the club organises stadium tours, developed online merchandising and set up a club's museum. It also considers very important to train its stewards for the games. Stoke City F.C. also eradicated violence from its stadium by creating a `green card' to allow fans to enter its stadium. But the most important measure is to keep tickets at an accessible level. R.C. Lens is also proud not to have increased prices of season tickets for the last three years.

4.3.2. Shareholders

British football clubs do not communicate as frequently with shareholders as with fans. Shareholders are invited to attend the annual general meeting and the clubs publish their accounts every year or twice-a-year. Most of shareholders attend home games, where they can meet the clubs' managers.

Shareholders expect a certain satisfaction for their investment and also personal privileges to access games. Theorists recommend finding a compromise with these key players.

How stakeholders influence football clubs' strategy ? September 2003

English clubs have put in place special shareholders' lounge at the stadium, to attend games. They have to endorse the club's strategy, what they can do at the annual general meeting. Moreover, they often appoint key employees. Liverpool F.C. never paid any dividend to its shareholders. In counterpart, the club invests impressive amounts of money in the team, to increase the shares' value through victories on the pitch.

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