Football in the UK has never been more popular. Attendances
continue to rise, all-seater stadiums are in place following the Taylor
report, and top foreign stars are adding lustre to the Premier League
and FA Cup.
Deloitte and Touche research from last August shows that the UK football
industry has grown at a rate of 20% per year since 1992, faster than any
UK industry outside the computer sector.
Yet the Football Association, English football’s governing body, is
portrayed as bureaucratic, arcane and unwieldy, incapable of running and
marketing the game, let alone staging the 2006 World Cup. Its image was
tarnished further by the recent departures of chairman Keith Wiseman and
chief executive Graham Kelly, following an unauthorised pounds 3.2m loan
to the Welsh FA.
The FA’s commercial aptitude has been questioned in the past. It managed
to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory during Euro 96, losing pounds
1.7m on a tournament with an overall profit of pounds 69m, due to
problems with tickets.
Profits were shared between UEFA, which took out pounds 20m, and
competing countries, which shared pounds 49m in prize money.
The FA derives its revenue from three sources: sale of broadcasting
rights, sponsorship of national games and the FA Cup, and licensing of
the Three Lions logo. It aims to reach a total of pounds 280m.
The bulk comes from the broadcasting rights to England and FA Cup
The FA is just over halfway through a deal with Sky and ITV worth pounds
This deal was negotiated before the arrival of commercial director
Phillip Carling, following Euro 96. Carling, who joined the FA from
Arsenal where he was marketing director, has focused on licensing and
Last year the FA changed its sponsorship structure and developed the
’Football Associates’ scheme to attract ten core sponsors and generate
pounds 80m over four years. So far nine are signed up (see panel)
including FA Cup sponsor Axa which is spending pounds 42m over four
years on a core package plus FA Cup sponsorship.
Unlike Premier League contracts, sponsors receive important broadcasting
presence as well as advertising around grounds during games.
Richard Busby, chairman of sports sponsorship firm BDS Sponsorship,
says: ’I have a high regard for the packages the FA offers sponsors. It
has problems with the England team sponsorship. The word is it has had
to drop the price and if we have many more performances like the nil-nil
draw against Bulgaria this could go down further.’
Carling denies that the FA has had to reduce the asking price of around
pounds 15m over four years for sponsorship of the England team, but
Nationwide Building Society is reported to be close to clinching a deal
to sponsor the team for around pounds 11m over four years. The first
England sponsor Green Flag paid just pounds 4m for a similar period.
Carling defends the fact that it has taken a year to find a sponsor: ’We
weren’t in a position to renegotiate until Green Flag’s sponsorship
ended. My counsel was not to have a fire sale. It’s better to take time
to find the right partner.’
The FA is also pushing a series of licensing deals to stretch the
It is entering into an agreement with Hay and Robertson, owner of the
Kangol brand, to take England’s Three Lions brand beyond the pounds 50m
kit deal negotiated with Umbro. This deal will see branded England
clothes in upmarket stores such as Harvey Nichols and Selfridges to
target the fashion market.
Despite such developments, the FA’s commercial arm is bound up in the
bureaucracy of the institution. Carling puts forward his strategy and
decisions are made by an eight-strong commercial committee, which sits
weekly and is chaired by Jack Wiseman, Birmingham City FC
Carling says he is not overly restricted by bureaucracy: ’We’re not
pushing through major structural changes which affect the game as a
whole so I haven’t come across the difficulties in getting decisions
made that others find.’
Mike Reynolds, director of the Institute of Sports Sponsorship, says:
’Commercial firms like dealing with organisations where decisions are
quick. But, given the constraint that a committee structure brings, the
commercial department at the FA seems to have a fair amount of
Richard Moore, managing director of sponsorship and PR agency
Capitalize, has worked with Carlsberg-Tetley and Umbro on deals with the
FA. He says: ’The majority of sports bodies wouldn’t stand up to
standards in the City.
But you have to recognise that they have a responsibility to their
sports and try to understand their decisions.’
’Restructuring the commercial side has helped. The FA has worked hard to
change things,’ says Simon Marsh, European sports and marketing manager
He says there were problems in the past to do with the sponsorship
packages offered. Now Umbro is happy that its commitment extends beyond
kit sponsorship to areas such as support for football at grass roots
Any streamlining of the FA following the departures of Kelly and Keith
Wiseman can only be good for the game but it seems that the commercial
side of the FA has already been overhauled.
WORLD CUP 2006 BID
The main contenders
South Africa, Germany, England, Brazil, Egypt/Morocco
- Profits, both for the Football Association and industries such as
tourism, could be massive.
- Last year’s World Cup in France produced a profit of around pounds
The Japanese FA hopes to make around pounds 30m profit from co-hosting
the 2002 World Cup with South Korea.
- The big money is in negotiation of TV rights which FIFA controls.
Worldwide rights for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups will net dollars 1.8
bn (pounds 1.1bn) for FIFA.
The England campaign
- A 14-strong World Cup 2006 bid team, headed by bid director Alec
McGivan, is in place.
- The bid is backed by the FA, the English Sports Council (now Sport
England), the FA Premier League and six corporate sponsors (British
Airways, Marks & Spencer, Nationwide Building Society, Daily Telegraph,
Deloitte and Touche, and Umbro).
- The bid team has a marketing resource headed by marketing manager
Dominic Hayes, formerly press manager at Procter & Gamble. It also draws
on the expertise of marketing professionals, such as Saatchi & Saatchi’s
joint chief executive Adam Crozier.
- Marketing activity targets key decision-makers overseas.
International media relations, direct mail to key football
administrators and ads placed in trade journals form the basis of
activity. Saatchi & Saatchi produces the creative.
- Hayes says recent problems won’t affect the bid: ’It’s still the same
stadia, communications infrastructure and travel conditions.’
FA MARKETING STRUCTURE
Marketing team Phillip Carling Commercial director (right)
Carling reports to eight-strong commercial committee and FA’s executive
Axa (FA Cup)
Carlsberg (FA Vase)
Umbro (FA Trophy)
Walkers (Youth programmes)
Coca-Cola (Charter for Quality) One 2 One (Charity Shield)
Eidos, Sainsbury’s, Arcadia
Management of sponsor presence at events