For some outsiders, winning in football may depend on the eleven players and the coach on the field.
But from the inside, how a club is run from a business perspective is the recipe for success, and it starts at the top with the owner of the club. Things can go wrong quickly if they don’t invest cash in the right areas to protect their assets.
Mohammed Hamdi is the former General Director of Dutch team ADO Den Haag. He has first-hand experience of making critical decisions that affect the success of a club. He explained to Football Now that the most important decision was choosing the right manager.
“The head coach is the focus of the media. He is the person who helps to achieve better results. He is also the ambassador of the team. This means that the key decision is to find the right head coach, someone who fits the philosophy, vision and strategy of the club.”
Brighton & Hove Albion is a club known for its outstanding management style. The south coast were promoted to the Premier League for the first time in their history in 2017. They have been maintaining a steady rise since then. Unlike many clubs who struggle for survival after finally reaching the top flight, Brighton have risen under the management of more than one manager. The team, which defeated four-time Champions League champion Ajax in the Europa League in October, will make its debut in European cups in the 2023/2024 season.
So how do they do this? Brighton & Hove Albion’s management team have a knack for spotting ‘polished gems’ in the transfer market. The club has made the top five player sales in the last five years. They signed then-unknown players, developed their talents, and sold them for a considerable profit. According to TalkSeagulls founder Ryan Adsett, this has been key to Brighton’s sustained success since its introduction six years ago.
“I think that’s definitely happening at Brighton. When we lose a player, someone is ready to step in. When you save that amount of money and invest it into the academy since 2014, you reap the rewards in 2023.”
Not all fans are lucky enough to see their club run as well as Brighton. In fact, it is more common for most fans to be dissatisfied with the club’s owners. There are several reasons for this, but in most cases it is due to negligence in investment that big clubs end up lower in the football pyramid than they would like to be.
Take FC Schalke for example; They are the third largest club in Germany in terms of number of fans, after Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Just 12 years ago they had reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, they regularly progressed out of the group stages of this competition and finished in the top four of the Bundesliga in most seasons. They are currently in 16th place in the Bundesliga second division, which consists of 18 teams.
Unlike Brighton, mismanagement of player sales has put them in a position their more than 122,000 members could never have dreamed of. German football writer Chris Williams told Football Now it was due to a combination of mistakes made on and off the pitch.
“Schalke’s fall from grace is remarkable. They found themselves in a bit of a financial bind. A lot of good players were playing there: Joel Matip, Max Mayer, Leon Goretzka, Alexander Nübel. It was a big potential. By selling these players, we could get between 110 and 150 million euros.” “They could have generated revenue. Instead, all these players walked out of the gate for free.”
So what will it take to return Schalke to its former glory?
“They have recently brought in a new coach; their 12th since 2019. They will have to get back to what they do best, which is bringing players into their academy structure. This is not something that will be solved overnight. They will get them out of the second division by any means necessary.” “They need to find a new identity and a new type of football.”
These are two very contrasting case studies that show how decisions made off the field affect your results on the field. While Brighton & Hove Albion continues to go from strength to strength, Schalke’s sad story continues to decline.