5 key mistakes of football clubs

mistakes of football clubs

Do you know what one of the main problems in human activity is? People try to invent solutions that already exist in a quite developed form.

I constantly come across numerous thoughts from completely different areas in which both ordinary professionals and large, highly paid teams are working on something that already exists. And I’m not even talking here about developing something serious. I’m talking about some commonplace knowledge.

You read one article in an esteemed publication, where advertisers and marketers are dwelling on the decision-making process, as if they were in the 80s of the 20th century. You read another article, where a whole group of people tells how they apply psychological techniques of a mid-century level in high-budget games.

You talk with a well-known specialist about the motivation they apply in a transnational company, and they do not even know that their ideas in a far more modern form are set forth in a book that has for weeks been among The New York Times Nonfiction Best Sellers.

While there are numerous studies, and when companies around the world are actively implementing these or other tools in their own activities, there is too much inefficiency around.

And even serious companies with high capitalization get in this trap of inefficiency. Therefore, it’s no wonder to see a significant amount of inefficiency in the work of football clubs.

There is nothing wrong with mistakes. What is wrong is not to try to correct them. So here are my top 5 mistakes, which had to be corrected yesterday.


1. Salary and motivation.

Do you know what motivation is considered to be most ineffective? The financial one. Of course, there are areas of activity in which financial motivation will have a highvalue. But if your activity does not run the risk of getting under automation in the coming years, then money can spoil things pretty bad.

I’ll start with a well-known case which is far from football. Switzerland is a very peculiar state from many sides. Considering that a third of the electricity in Switzerland is produced at NPPs, in the early 1990s there began the search for new nuclear waste depositories. Two cities were chosen.

Well, and even despite my positive attitude to nuclear energy, I would not want to live next to a nuclear waste depository. I’d just feel some kind of discomfort from such a co-location. It is clear that the locals thought so too.

However, understanding a social significance of the project, the majority (50.8%) of the local residents of one of the cities voted in a referendum for the deployment of a nuclear waste depository near their homes. Those who were against presented a problem for the state, therefore it was decided to address the residents of another city.

The second city was completely identical to the first one. The difference was in the approach. The residents of that city were asked the same question as the first city’s population, but with a slight addition. The state obliged to pay every citizen of the city 5 thousand francs annually (it is an average salary in Switzerland at that time for the period of 6 weeks).

Of course, the classical economy will tell us that people act rationally, so they will agree. And in addition to that 50.8% there will join at least a part of the people who will find it rational to receive money for free having minimal risks.

Yes, those were the times when the behavioral economics was already quite popular, but if nowadays they still keep telling in universities around the world about the human rationality, in the early 90’s things were surely worse.

How many did vote “yes”? 24.6%. Even the initial doubling and then tripling of the cash compensation (it reached the equivalent of $6525) didn’t significantly change the situation.

This case has become an important stage in the study of motivation.

There are different approaches to motivation. There is psychology of motivation, which perfectly explains everything by itself: there is an intrinsic motivation, and there is an extrinsic motivation. The intrinsic one is when you just like doing something. And this is the most effective motivation.The extrinsic motivation is, say, a financial one. And it “kills” intrinsic motivation just too well.

Therefore, “to adjust” the motivation is not an easy task. On the one hand, money is needed. On the other, money makes intrinsic motivation – a pure desire to do something – disappear.

There is also the behavioral economics approach. Of course, this approach simply cannot be built on something opposite to the psychology of motivation, nevertheless it gives us an opportunity to look at the question from a slightly different angle. As in the case above.

However, the conclusion is the same: extrinsic motivation “kills” the intrinsic one.

And here there is both good and bad news for the clubs:

1) You can pay less to both players and employees;
2) You will have to look for a specialist.

It is not difficult to notice the work of a good specialist in this field. It is hard to find the specialist himself. At FC Barcelona they perfectly involve the psychology of motivation both in working with kids, and with an adult team.

For example, when there appeared the details of the contract, offered by FC Barcelona to Lionel Messi, one could notice that it had been worked through very well at the level of psychology of motivation.

They managed to “switch off” the extrinsic motivation in an original way to achieve the effectiveness of intrinsic motivation. In addition, his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo was touched upon by indirect steps. The architecture of a choice was set up in such a way, that the probability of refusing to sign a new contract was very low.


2. The fans. 

It is my favorite subject. There are a number of tools allowing to most effectively attract fans to the stadium. I have already described this in detail.

It’s great if your team plays well, and it makes people fill the stadium. But this means you do not know how to work with fans, if attendance depends exclusively on the team play. A good team play is to some extent a guarantee of good ratings of broadcasts, but with the development of technology more and more people will stay home if you do not provide them with something more.

For people need an interesting experience, people need emotions, people need oxytocin from being in a group of people close to them.

First, make the right segmentation. To do this, you need to really understand your fans. Use small data. It’s very hard emotionally. When I first used small data for a football club, I had to recover myself for some time afterwards. But it’s the only way. Small data under this or another name is used in many leading American companies for work with employees.

Small data is good, but what about big data? Yes, experts on big data cost a lot of money. But all specialists are expensive. There are too many opportunities now to use big data for a specific benefit. And if you save on big data, you lose still more.

If you do not like the segmentation strategy proposed by me, use something else. Invite psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists. Let them develop a different strategy. But you work with living people. Just start segmenting your own fans as people, not as figures. The 21st century has been here for 17 years already.

Use the understanding of hormone effect. Again, you work with living people. We developed in a certain way in the evolution process. And now you can use these nuances to provide people with an unforgettable experience and to earn, but why don’t you do that? Do you have too much money? Are fans too happy to be in the stadium?


3. Aromamarketing.

This point follows from the preceding one. Surprisingly, people may not know about anything that is described above, but they will still use aromamarketing at least in some form. Just approach the process wisely, so you won’t spend money without effect or with a negative effect.

You can start with small tricks that will not cost you a lot of money. You are to understand what smell is the most logical, as well as what smell can serve as priming for old nostalgic memories from childhood.

Make sure that the fast food smell reaches the supporters. But don’t be over-diligent, do it unobtrusively. Do not forget to sell food in the stands as well.

When the food sale is conducted in the sector by a person carrying food particularly during the match, you can enhance the smell of hot dogs. When the break or the end of the match is coming, you can also use the smell of hot dogs, pastry, donuts, cola, coffee.

In this case, we also use the segmentation of viewers, for while most of the viewers leave the stadium, there are still people at the stadium who are ready to spend money. You have to admit, it would be very strange not to make benefit from it.

What are other ways of using aroma marketing at the stadium to attract fans? I believe that the main scent of the stadium should be the scent of freshly mown grass, and barely perceptible one (so that it would be hard to distinguish it consciously, and we would have to sniff well to discern it).

In this case, priming can lead people’s minds to memories of childhood, of playing football, of freshly mown grass on the lawn near the house. It depends, of course, on the segment of the fans you are referring to.


4. Quality.

No knowledge or experience matters, if the work is done poorly. This issue could be added to the motivation point, but except motivation, here is some kind of a philosophical problem that radically changes your attitude to the business you are engaged in.

Many will understand me here. Suppose you are doing something properly, take great pains with it, do not notice the time spent. As a result, your part of the work is done excellently. You are getting great pleasure. It was pure intrinsic motivation.

But here appears another person who is doing his part of the job sloppily. You feel frustrated and simply cannot keep working with such zeal, seeing that the rest do not show the slightest respect for the work.

From the managerial position everything is clear in this case. These are pretty basic principles that are explained by good investors in Silicon Valley to startup founders, especially to those worrying that they have to spend heavily raised investment on not the most hardworking employees.

Therefore, only a few want the “stars” in the workplace, everyone tries to find simply qualified employees who will be able to perform the given task correctly, having thus created a real synergy from the overall activities of such a team.

From the point of view of motivation one can work on this problem in many ways. And the earlier you start, the better.

How will this affect you in case when your customers, that is, the fans, begin to notice and feel such an attitude? Of course, they begin to lose interest. No one likes to be in the place where he/she is not welcome.

I have already cited this example before. For whom do they write things like that?

Is it just to get them off? Give me my $50.000 a year and be glad that I’m doing at least something, is it what it’s all about?

Agree that it’s still somehow stupid to pay wages to an employee, but not to receive the maximum from him/her, right? That is why companies with the most capitalization spend significant funds to achieve the maximum efficiency from their employees.

What do we see in some football clubs? The efficiency is not sought from either employees of the club with a salary of $5000 a month, nor from players with a salary of $50.000 for the same period (with a much higher salary anyway).


5. A business model.

I’m not talking about a complete change in the club’s business model, but about a partial one. Although, of course, bold clubs can start a revolution in sports by offering a new more effective business model for emerging markets.

First, let’s look at the essence of the business model. For example, you can have a wonderful product, but not the best business model. Now, if you have problems with marketing, and even with the data your understanding of the market is built on, you have doomed your product to failure. In fact, it will be enough if even one element falls out of this chain.

I prefer to view the business model as a continuation of the architecture of choice. With the help of a successful business model you may leave the consumer no another choice, except for becoming your customer.

For me, the business model has become a topic close to my heart. I’ve already told before that we are currently launching a startup in one specific area. We are proud not only of the product, but of the business model as well. We’ve managed to make the product, solving a certain serious problem of a large branch, and could quite sell it at a price much higher than that of the competitors. Such a price did not cause issues in developed country markets.

But we realized that there were very tough markets where the price would be at the first place. In addition, in some markets, which are well-known to everyone, they won’t even try to bypass the patent, but will simply copy the technology and occupy your place in the market at your expense. We consulted on the subject the specialists who, working for large companies, missed the mark even with high costs of legal help.

Therefore, we have used certain requirements for the product’s exploitation (by using them we’ve tripled its lifespan) to make its price at the level of existing proposals, but at the same time to give important indicators solving a serious problem. We’ve also solved less important but rather fundamental moments. Thus, we’ve managed to maintain a high margin at the time, when competitors worked on the verge of self-sufficiency.

Pay attention as Elon Musk competes in his companies with established players using the new-to-market business models. Because only in this way you can go to a highly competitive long-standing market and count on something serious.

Of course, Solar Roof business model sounded perfectly ideal at first, nevertheless it remains an excellent option anyway. Especially if the house costs, at least, a few hundred thousand dollars. Besides Musk manages with the help of this project to significantly reduce the cost of Tesla batteries recycling.

In the case of football clubs, changing of a business model can be anything from the models of interaction with fans, when you lock in different ways the consumer on yourself not only with football, and finishing with something extremely original and breakthrough.

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Best regards,

Leon The Alien


SEE ALSO: The major mistakes of football clubs in PR and SMM


Images: Nathan Congleton, Giphy