Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) delegation made up of Directors of the League Management Company (LMC), Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Board members and 11 NPFL Club Chairmen and Managers have been challenged to set clear commercial and sporting objectives for their club with a plan for achieving the vision.
The advice came at a session when Valencia CF of Spain played host to the NPFL delegation to the NPFL All-Star LaLiga tour Wednesday morning at the club’s 93-year old Mestalla Stadium during which the club’s Commercial and Marketing Director, Peter Draper conducted a marketing seminar, presenting the club’s marketing vision as well as touching on global marketing practices.
The delegation included the Chairman of the League Management Company (LMC), Shehu Dikko, the Chief Operating Officer, Hon. Nduka Irabor and the Chairman of Club Chairmen, Managers Association, Barrister Isaac Danladi and independent Director, Dr. Isaac Ayodele.
The lecture came a day after the NPFL Delegation were also hosted at the Valencia CF Academy where it was disclosed that the business culture of the club was to encourage the training and development of local talents through the academy system to provide a minimum of 50% of the first team players and possibly sell the exceptional talents who attract profitable offers in the future to earn revenue.
It was an opportunity for the Club Managers and Chairmen to have a firsthand knowledge of the operations of modern club business from Draper, whose CV includes heading the team that laid the foundation for the marketing and commercial direction of English Premier League club, Manchester United in 1999.
Drawing from his experience in sports administration and marketing, Draper began the session by stating that the starting point in club management rests with understanding and appreciating the simple things football clubs and sports associations ought to be doing and declared that the club chairman or chief executive officer is the number one salesman in the organization.
Positing that the two components of managing a club is the team and the administration, Draper said the global challenge encountered in running clubs is in getting the balance between meeting the needs of the playing personnel (players and coaches) and that of the administration.
“While the core business of breweries is beer, that of a club is producing players (Team) and a major challenge of running clubs is getting the team to understand and appreciate the administration and organization. Fans do not like to think or see football as a business but we need a good organization to successfully run a football club.
“The administrators which includes the human resources, communication, commercial and other units need to have access to equipment to function well just as players are provided training facilities which includes good playing grounds, balls, Coaches, kits, doctors, weights etc”, Draper told the audience, touching on a major down side of club administration in the NPFL where most clubs tend to spend huge resources recruiting players but hardly set up a professional team to manage the administrative arm.
Draper who began sports management in 1997 with the English Basketball League laid huge emphasis on the need for NPFL clubs to “follow global successful models by determining the club vision which is the destination, determining how to achieve the vision and setting a target time of when to achieve the vision”.
He said while it is optional to alter how and when to achieve the vision, the vision should remain constant. “Deciding where to go will determine how to get there but while you may change the route to the destination, the destination should not change. Situations may lead to changing how and when to achieve the vision but the destination (vision) should not change much”.
The Valencia official also spoke on areas such as proper investment in playing and training structures to encourage the best talents to sign up for the club and pointed out that this requires good scouting team, training facilities, personnel, attitude/ relationship building with the players and perhaps their families.
On being informed during the interactive segment that 80% of the clubs in the NPFL are sustained by state funds to the tune of up to 90% of their revenue needs, Draper urged them to seek ways of improving the volume in the remaining 10%.
“It does not matter if you work for just 10% of your revenue, every club must think about how to optimize revenue from the stadium”.