THE BUSINESS OF FOOTBALL HOTLY CONTESTED AT LONDON BUSINESS SCHOOL/WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE EVENT
European football champions Manchester United went head to head with Premier One league side Millwall at the London Business School last night – but in the lecture theatre, rather than the football field. Thanks to the efforts of The Wall Street Journal Europe’s VIP programme manager Gert van Mol, more than 50 of the School’s MBA students came together with selected Journal Europe readers to hear views on the business of football from Sameer Pabari, director of media at Manchester United, and Andy Ambler, COO and director of finance at Millwall. They were joined by Jo Swinnen, professor of developmental economics at the Catholic University of Louvain, who is currently studying the effects of football on developing economies, and international football journalist Ben Lyttleton, who moderated proceedings. With Manchester United the most profitable club in the world – and arguably also the most popular – its business model dwarfs that of Millwall; making more money in a couple of games than the lesser-ranked side does in a year. The Journal Europe is looking at rolling the inaugural event out to a seasonal series of moderated discussions, focusing on the business of sport.
The combined discussions with the members of the Football Club of London Business School, and the Lisbon Agenda specialists at Itinera and EREF (European Regional Economic Forum) last year led me to believe we should completely rethink our sponsoring strategy. Traditionally a university or a student club would apply for some sponsorship money. We would pay a certain amount and in return we would receive our logo on a flag, t-shirt or website.
I completely abandoned that idea.
In the future we will carefully select some student clubs and only give them money if they agree on becoming our co-organizer of small, manageable, quality seminars, preferably on school grounds. Together we then select a topic, we invite specialists (from the industry) and organize an afternoon or evening seminar, extra curricular (or part of the curriculum in case of some Business Schools). This effectively reflects the set up of the WSJE Future Leadership Institute, the virtual institute we created January 2008, with ultimate goal to bridge industry and university.
“The Business of Football” seminar is the first seminar we set up this way.
Guy Levy, President London Business School Football Club