There's great economic benefit in football

Saturday, September 15, 2018

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The report in yesterday's Jamaica Observer on the revenues earned by English Premier League club Manchester City makes interesting reading and should, we believe, inspire the leadership of local football to work harder at transforming attitudes toward the sport here.

Manchester City, we are told, posted record revenues of 500.5 million (US$652 million) in a record-breaking 2017/18 campaign which climaxed with the team amassing 100 points to take the coveted Premier League title.

The club reported profits of 10.4 million, a fourth consecutive year of profitability, with wages to revenue ratio falling to 52 per cent.

Readers who follow football will recall that in 2008 Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the Abu Dhabi ruling family spent 150 million to acquire ownership of Manchester City. Since then he has invested more than 1.3 billion directly into the club, taking his total spend to more than 1.45 billion.

The Agence France Presse ( AFP ) report in yesterday's paper reminded that before Sheikh Mansour's takeover, Manchester City's revenue was a mere 87 million for the 2007/08 season.

Huge losses of over 584 million followed during the first six years of the sheikh's ownership due to massive investment in the playing squad and facilities, including the 200-million Etihad Campus training ground, the AFP report said.

However, AFP noted that football finance specialists Deloitte have reported that “surging television revenues, commercial sponsors and regular Champions League football mean that City now trail only local rivals Manchester United and European powerhouses Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich for income”.

Manchester United's earnings, we are told, stand at 581.2 million, Real Madrid's amount to 579.7 million, FC Barcelona's are at 557.1 million, while Bayern Munich generate 505.1 million.

These are not numbers to be scoffed at. Indeed they are the results of serious administration of football as a business which, thankfully, is the direction in which we are seeing a greater shift in the thinking among administrators locally.

So, on Thursday at the launch of the 2018-19 Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) season, Mr Don Anderson, chairman of the Professional Football Association of Jamaica (PFAJ), identified playing surfaces, professionalism and marketing as areas in which the RSPL can improve.

The association, he said, is working with stakeholders to improve professionalism in the sport. Mr Anderson, as well as Jamaica Football Federation President Michael Ricketts, also addressed the burning issue of playing surfaces, which we have commented on ad nauseam in this space.

Both men said that a number of clubs have improved, and are improving their playing fields. However, the consensus among them was that more needs to be done. They are, of course, correct.

In relation to marketing, Mr Anderson said that the it was the PFAJ's job to ensure that the product is good enough to attract the kind of support it will need to make the game viable.

We look forward to the strategies that the PFAJ and the JFF will employ in this regard, in much the same way that we anticipate the player development programme that RSPL title sponsors Red Stripe have promised to implement.

The evidence is there that football can be a big earner for clubs, players, associated individuals and, indeed the country. We need to act on that.

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