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22/7/2014
Leeds United fans will be relieved to hear that Cagliari has been declared one of the most efficient clubs in Serie A.

A major piece of research published in the International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship analysed all Serie A clubs over a four-year period and found that Cagliari, then run by new Leeds owner Massimo Cellino, was fourth most efficient after the two Milan giants and A.S Roma.

The significance of Cagliari’s position, however, is that it was the most efficient club outside of the major cities.

Report authors; Carlos Barros and António Samagaio of the Technical University of Lisbon and Vincenzo Scafarto of University of Cassino, Italy state that the size of city appears to be important:

“The difference in efficiency among clubs can be mainly explained by the big city effect, where big cities have big clubs that dominate the league and small cities have small clubs that are dominated in the league.”

The study analysed the efficiency of club income and expenditure over four seasons using an industry standard model. The research found that the ‘big city’ effect worked because it allowed clubs with large fan bases to use proportionally fewer resources to generate income. For example, the sponsorship sales team for a major club would be able to secure much bigger deals per employeed than a small club. This, and other aspects of commercial operations, would ultimately make the club more efficient.

“Cagliari has proven to be an exception and out-performed some of the bigger clubs such as Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina,” says Carlos Barros.

Simon Rines, publisher of the Journal and a Leeds fan says that he believes this should give hope to Leeds fans:

“Many people have heard the stories about players having to bring their own lunch to Thorpe Arch and some might have despaired that Massimo Cellino’s ideas of running a tight ship are over the top. However, his record at Cagliari speaks for itself. The research shows that the club was efficient in earning revenues and in the use of that money. If the same can be applied to Leeds, the club has a bright future.

“As a club, Leeds represents a fantastic opportunity. We all know about the big fan base, the modern facilities at Thorpe Arch and Elland Road, despite its age, is a stadium with huge potential. Few clubs have so much land to play with on such a fantastic site close to the city centre. It should be possible to build a thriving 365-day a year operation there that helps to subsidise the club and redevelop that ground.

“As someone in sports marketing, however, I believe the potential goes way beyond this. The club has a huge and diverse population in its immediate hinterland. It is a scandal that the ground is usually never more than two thirds full when you see the crowds at the likes of Norwich and Brighton, which have much smaller populations and no illustrious history. The communication with the fans and potential fans has not been good at Leeds in the past and you can’t just rely on success to fill the ground, it requires strategies that Leeds United simply haven’t adopted in the past. Likewise the power of the Leeds United name, and the global links that Leeds as a city has, means that it should be looking to form partnerships around the world. In our experience clubs are lazy and unimaginative and miss huge opportunities to increase revenues, attract new fans and widen the net to find quality academy players.

“Leeds needs to be put on a sound financial footage first, then hopefully Massimo Cellino will start to invest in some programmes that will help to develop the club. You don’t need billionaire backing to make a club like Leeds a major force in the Premier League, just a sound strategy for development and the great thing is that very few of their competitors are doing it.”

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