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Manchester City: a case study for Indian football

Manchester City, the name which has stirred the world of football in recent times, is an interesting case study for many researchers. The club made a radical change in its performance and commercial returns in 2008 when the club was taken over by Abu Dhabi United Group, a company owned by Sheikh Mansour Zayed Al Nayhan of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family. The initial purchase was of 90% and the remaining 10% was taken over by the same group in 2009. A new era was introduced in Manchester City with this takeover. Former Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini joined the club along with renowned players like Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, David Silva and Samir Nasri to improve the performance of the team. These high-profile recruits proved their worth by winning the FA Cup and by securing third place in last season’s EPL. Their triumph in EPL also gave them a place in the UEFA Champions League.

This ‘golden run’ of the team had been accelerated with various administrative and commercial initiatives. Investments were made to upgrade the existing facilities of the club. Millions of dollars were pumped in to improve the training facilities and the pitch. Hospitality suits were upgraded. A new two-storey administrative building was set up by investing UK£ 2.1 million. The naming rights of its stadium were sold to Etihad at a whopping price of UK£ 400 million. A part of this money was spent on setting up an academy and a new training facility while another part was allocated to empower the deprived communities in the nearby areas. In this way, both infrastructural facilities and community developmental activities were initiated.

Manchester City is a community club and thus utmost importance is given to secure the interest of common fans. No hike has been imposed on the price of regular match tickets. Separate family stands were set up and the lowest prices are charged for children. At the same time, the club made an investment of UK£ 3 million to improve the conditions of ticket boxes, executive boxes and retail stores to provide a better experience to fans. However, the best seats cost a bit more. As a result of these initiatives, the match-day hospitality revenue of the club increased to UK£ 6.1 million in 2009-2010.

The management of Manchester City devised a comprehensive strategy to enhance the fan-base in other countries. The club organizes pre-season tours to the United States with an objective of establishing the club as a ‘global brand’. Moreover, the club extends its support to the children of under-served communities of New York and Los Angeles as part of their community developmental initiatives. Similar activities have already been started in Abu Dhabi. The process of developing the club as a ‘global brand’ has accelerated by their participation in the Champions League. The deal with Endemol plays a significant role in this context. Apart from designing programs for television, they also develop specialized programs on specific players for specific countries which help them in creating fan-bases in those countries. The club has already expanded its fan-base in the UK, USA and the Middle East and has started the process of developing fan-bases in Asian countries too.

While the Manchester City model hasn’t started generating profits yet, several lessons can be learnt from its organizational effectiveness. They have ot only upgraded the infrastructural facilities of the club, but have also planted the seed for future commercial success by expanding the fan base. Their community developmental initiatives solidify their position as a community club and show their commitment towards the community. The football clubs of India can follow the footprints of Manchester City to prepare a roadmap for their overall development. All we require is a mindset to change the present scenario of Indian football. Are we ready for that?

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