Soccerex European Forum – Manchester (March 2012): The Soccerex Supplement

Day 2 – Thursday 29 March 2012

15:45 – 16:45            The Soccerex Supplement

  • Dan Walker (BBC)
  • Paddy Barclay (Football Writer)
  • Phil Thompson (Sky Sports and Former England International)
  • Peter Reid (Former England International)
  • Bryan Robson (Former England International)
  • John Barnes (Former England International)


Peter Reid

Dan Walker opened the debate with a question to the panel about who would take the Premier League title this season. Peter Reid said that the recent away form of Manchester City had been their undoing and so were the outsiders to win it now. Phil Thompson hoped that the race would still be alive by 30 April when City and United met at the Etihad Stadium, but said that the difficult run-in for Mancini’s team could yet work in their favour. Dan Walker asked Bryan Robson whether Sir Alex Ferguson would have panicked after the 6-1 defeat by City at Old Trafford. Robson said that Sir Alex would have simply used the defeat as a learning experience for him and the team and added that if United won nothing this year, there were positives to be taken from the season. Paddy Barclay described Ferguson as a ‘warlord’ and ‘a clever man’ who generally bought early in the close season to have maximum preparation time. He acknowledged that in Europe both Manchester clubs had been outplayed. Bryan Robson said that United had been a force in Europe for a number of years, and this season was a minor blip. Dan Walker wanted to know what it said about City if they failed to win the League this year. Bryan Robson replied that the club would take stock, recognise that they had improved and then make the appropriate signings. Phil Thompson believed that Manchester City were still a ‘work in progress’. They won the FA Cup and qualified for the Champions League last season and had run a good race for the title this time round. This was not a view shared by Peter Reid, who said that City should have won what has been a pretty weak Premier League season. Paddy Barclay added that City simply won’t be able to go out and buy more talent, because of the impending introduction of the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations.

Paddy Barclay

Moving away from the title race, Dan Walker asked which was better – La Liga or the Premier League. Walker pointed out that Barcelona and Real Madrid averaged four goals at home, yet Athletico Bilbao (who were 36 points behind the leading two clubs) humbled Manchester United in the Europa League over two-legs. Paddy Barclay said that the rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid was the greatest things he had witnessed in football and was a level above the Premier League. Peter Reid added that 20 years ago, La Liga was in turmoil, but now Spain were European and World Champions, so must be doing something right. Phil Thompson believed the Premier League to be the best competition, because of the fans, the intensity and the ability to play in all weathers. However, maybe skill-wise La Liga had the edge. In terms of Real Madrid, Thompson said that he felt José Mourinho was a bit of a ‘gypsy’ in that he doesn’t want to get too close to a club. Bryan Robson said that Mourinho would be top of the list to take the Old Trafford job in the future. Paddy Barclay added that whoever took over would have to be a huge personality and be ‘Fergie’s choice’. If not, Ferguson could make the new manager’s life a misery as the shadow of Sir Matt Busby had done. Barclay lauded the old Liverpool model of a strong Chief Executive and Chairman, with a manager and experienced boot-room. Peter Reid said that doesn’t always work as Manchester United found, when Wilf McGuinness succeeded Sir Matt Busby.

Phil Thompson

Moving on, Dan Walker asked about the situation at Liverpool and their recent League form. Phil Thompson said that at the start of the season Liverpool could have said to have been unlucky, with the stats showing a high number of occasions when they have hit the post. However, when this extends into the second-half of the season, you have to look to see if there is a deeper rooted problem. John Barnes believed that the Anfield club have been too reliant on Suarez and Gerrard this year and that the jury was still out on the big signings such as Carroll and Henderson. Peter Reid said that he thought some of the signings were strange and personally he would have taken Jermaine Defoe over Andy Carroll. He questioned whether many of the Liverpool players had the ‘balls’ to succeed. Phil Thompson said that signings like Henderson and Carroll maybe for the future of the club, but that expectation demanded that they delivered now. John Barnes believed that Kenny Dalglish wanted British strength in the side and so went for Charlie Adam and Andy Carroll. However, he added that Liverpool were 3 or 4 players short of seriously challenging for the title and there was a distinct lack of quality amongst the squad players. Peter Reid said that despite the win in the League Cup, there was pressure on Kenny Dalglish and it seemed to him that the Anfield boss was not really enjoying the job.

John Barnes

The topic of racism in football was tackled next. John Barnes said that for 90 minutes at a game, people could just put a lid on their racist views, but outside of the ground would revert to type. Football he said had a ‘we don’t want to hear it’ mentality and that for black players the situation had improved. However, for the ordinary black man on the street, was it any better? Peter Reid said that football was doing its bit to address racism, and if it only made a small difference, surely this was progress. Phil Thompson said that in Eastern Europe the situation was far worse than in England. John Barnes countered, that is this only being said now because it has improved in England, as no one was saying how bad it was abroad 20 years ago. Paddy Barclay responded that football and music had the two main tools in helping break down the problem and create a better situation. Barnes asked again, ‘who was it better for?’ and added that it was not stopping racism. Phil Thompson stressed that the profile of football was bringing racism to the fore and trying to deal with it, but was concerned as to whether UEFA or FIFA was doing enough to tackle it. John Barnes added that in countries such as Macedonia it would take time, as they didn’t have or understand the multi-cultural diversity of England. Peter Reid said that education was key in tackling the issue.

Bryan Robson

For the final question, Dan Walker asked the panel how England would get on at the European Championship Finals this summer. Bryan Robson said the urgent thing was to get the new coach in place as the players needed to know. Peter Reid said that England won’t get out of the group, but Phil Thompson said that the team still has some good players and anything is possible, as proved by Denmark (Winners 1992) and Greece (Winners 2004). John Barnes thought that the low expectation of the media and fans could work in our favour. However, with Rooney missing the first two games, he believed England would be lucky to get past the group stage. Paddy Barclay tipped Germany to win the tournament and said the low fear factor could help the England players. He would appoint Glen Hoddle as a caretaker manager, so that Harry Redknapp could see out the season with Tottenham and then start afresh.


Soccerex European Forum – Manchester (March 2012): For Better or Worse – Football and The Media

Day 2 – Thursday 29 March 2012

14:00 – 15:00            For Better or Worse – Football and The Media

  • Guillem Balague (Sky Sports football expert) [Moderator]
  • Gaizka Mendieta (Sky Sports and Former Spanish International)
  • Gary Neville (Sky Sports and Former England International)
  • Brian Barwck (Founding Partner, Barwick Media & Sport)
  • Paul Hayward (Chief Sports Writer, Daily Telegraph)

    Guillem Balague (Sky Sports football expert)


Guillem Balague started this session by asking Gary Neville how he saw the relationship between players and the media. Neville said that it had not always been great. Players have certain journalists they trust, but footballers are emotional creatures and can react accordingly. He added that he believed that Twitter had brought players closer to journalists. Paul Hayward said that it was often a troubled relationship but it was mutually dependent and journalists have to be accountable. Gaizka Mendieta agreed that both groups need each other. Brian Barwick said the relationship was a bit of a ‘glass palace’. At the end of the day, football needed the media and vice versa, with money the driving force. The relationship has to work and Barwick believes that the day-to-day dealings have to be better.

The next question was to former players, Gaizka Mendieta and Gary Neville, with Guillem Balague asking that if they could implement one thing to improve the relationship with the media, what would it be. Gary Neville stated that if the older players had a cynical relationship with the media, this invariable filtered down to the young players and the rest of the changing room. He suggested that perhaps that in the case of the England team, it would be beneficial for the press to travel with them. Neville reiterated his earlier point about the interaction that Twitter provided. With the mistrust that existed with journalists, media events were currently very controlled. Gaizka Mendieta said that if the press and players were closer, even friendlier, then perhaps journalists would find it more difficult to criticise players. Brian Barwick picked up on Gary Neville’s point about the press travelling with the England team. He said that back in the 1990’s the media did indeed travel with the team, however back then there would only be a group of 20 or so journalists. Today that figure would be nearer 120, so would not be realistic to accommodate all that number. Barwick stated that the interview process needs to be streamlined. Gary Neville agreed and said that at Manchester United they had a full range of internal commitments (MUTV, radio, matchday programme, club magazine and sponsors) and believed there were too many and bordered on being a distraction.

In Spain, Guillem Balague said there was a model of circles with football at the centre, and going outward with groups such as players and fans. At the very outside was the media. Gary Neville said that was the right position, but acknowledged the influence of the media. Brian Barwick said that the media should be intrusive when it needed to be, but things had changed, with the fans having a greater voice through the internet. Neville was in agreement and said this had a significant impact on the newspapers, in that with the internet (for instance Twitter); a story could break, be resolved and disappear before papers are published the next day. Gaizka Mendieta believed that Twitter was important in that it gave fans an insight into what goes on the dressing rooms and a glimpse of the life players had outside of the game.

L to R: Paul Hayward (Chief Sports Writer, Daily Telegraph) and Gary Neville (Sky Sports and Former England International)

Given this pressure on the written media, Paul Hayward was asked what the future for papers was. He detailed that newspaper circulation was declining 6-8% a year. Papers had embraced websites and Twitter. Indeed, Twitter now generated copy, but did allow players to cut-out journalists. Hayward accepted that with the advent of blogs, anyone (irrespective of knowledge or experience) could be a ‘journalist’. Gary Neville said that for him with Twitter it was a case of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’. The speed and amount of information was incredible and it was something that isn’t going to go away. He believed that in future, there would be football regulated Twitter that would be commercialised by clubs.

The next question looked at players going into the media once they had retired. Brian Barwick said that the opportunities had always been there and during his time at the BBC, gave Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson their starts in television. Gary Neville added that footballers weren’t the brightest bunch so that limited future employment after their playing days. He added that many players ask him about what it is like retiring and how to make the transition into the media. Neville said that players couldn’t spend their footballing career being off-hand and uncooperative with the press and then expect to walk into the business. The media had to be embraced as if ignored, they could do serious damage to any career.

Guillem Balague asked about the media and national teams. Brian Barwick said that it was quite simply a ‘big event’. Gary Neville said that he was surprised by the scale of the media attention and that was coming from the background of Manchester United press events, which were themselves major sessions. However, at club level, he added that players were much more protected. Paul Hayward felt that anything to do with England was significantly more emotional and to some extent distorted, with a vicious circle of hype and speculation feed by the public and the media. Balague asked though if this was the same for all national teams. Gaizka Mendieta said that when Spain became World Champions, the media was in the dressing room celebrating too, as the team would have been working and dealing with the journalists almost as ‘friends’ and therefore shared in the triumph. Brian Barwick believed that the media was much more critical of England and were always looking for a way in to get a story, which was more difficult at club level as they were more together.

Gary Neville briefly touched on the issue of the England job and was critical of The FA. He couldn’t understand why the decision and process was taking so long, given that precious preparation time for the manager and players was being lost.

L to R: Brian Barwick (Founding Partner, Barwick Media & Sport) and Gaizka Mendieta (Sky Sports and Former Spanish International)

The panel was asked if the media and players were obsessed with the idea of celebrity and stars. Gary Neville said that from a players perspective that was an individual decision, in that they could choose to keep their heads down out of the spotlight. Paul Hayward said that the media did to some extent pursue the celebrity agenda, but it kept the Premier League in the headlines and promoted the ‘business’. However, he accepted that perhaps there was a market for a more technical and tactical approach. Gaizka Mendieta said certainly in Spain, the media wanted to focus and talk more about tactics. Brian Barwick agreed that the media was celebrity obsessed. This had arisen because more games are seen on television, so that the need for straight reporting had declined. Football had to be brought to life in another way and ‘celebrity’ was one of those ways. Therefore, Barwick believed that players needed more media education. This would not only be better for their careers as players and once they retired, but also improving the relationship (even bringing about some respect), with the media.

Soccerex European Forum – Manchester (March 2012): The Tricky Business of Managing England

Day 2 – Thursday 29 March 2012

11:45 – 12:45            The Tricky Business of Managing England

  • Jeff Powell (Daily Mail) [Moderator]
  • Terry Venables (Former England Manager)

    L to R: Terry Venables and Jeff Powell

Jeff Powell started the session by providing a brief resume of the career of Terry Venables. As a player, Venables started at Chelsea, before moves to Tottenham, QPR and briefly at Crystal Palace. In terms of management he had successful stints with Crystal Palace, QPR, Barcelona, Spurs and England. He also holds a unique record in having played for England at every level, Schoolboy, Youth, Amateur, Under 23 and Full International.

Q: How did Terry Venables win an England Amateur Cap?

TV: He was about to sign professionally for Chelsea but heard he was in line to be selected for the Olympic team in 1960 and said to the manager Ted Drake that he wanted the opportunity to take part. In the end Venables wasn’t picked, but in the meantime was selected and played for the Amateur side against West Germany at Dulwich Hamlet.

Q: What is Terry Venables role at Wembley FC?

TV: Venables replied that he is at the stage of his career where he can pick and choose what he is involved in. This project involves him preparing the team and mentoring the Wembley coaching staff in preparation for a game against a team of ex-professionals.

Q: Is the England job an impossible one?

TV: The problem with it is the weight of expectation that comes from the whole country, including fans and the media. It is a problem not only for the manager but players too, who have to be prepared and mentally tough to deal with the pressure.

Q: Is it difficult not having a ‘day to day’ routine as an international manager?

TV: He didn’t consider it an issue, if the time was used properly. Venables added that when he was in the post it provided valuable ‘thinking time’ to consider options. For example he worked closely with the then captain Tony Adams and vice-captain, David Platt in providing a different way to play. As leaders they took this on-board, and their strong leadership was important in situations when things weren’t going well. Players who were fearless and willing to accept responsibility was a key thing during Venables time as England manager.

Q: Are players today less willing to ‘accept responsibility’?

TV: Players have a more ‘comfortable ride’ at their clubs, where they are often idolised or worshipped by the fans. The familiarity of the club situation is not there at international level. The pressure at club level (i.e. in trying to win the League) is different to that when playing for your country.

Q: Manchester City or Manchester United for the title?

TV: Venables believed that Mancini had done a fantastic job at City, especially having to deal with the Tevez situation, given that it was played out in public and not behind closed doors. However, the experience of having been in this situation before will see United take the Premier League crown.

Q: What was it like taking the Barcelona job?

TV: Barcelona had not won the title for 11 years so there was immense pressure. Maradona had left for Napoli and Steve Archibald was brought in. Winning that first game against Real Madrid in the Bernabéu 3-0 set the tone.

Q: Was that experience invaluable in the England job?

TV: Venables thought that there was a dogma about the team played at the time and coping with a change both from a playing and mentality perspective was difficult. Getting a good start was important and he won his opening game against (then European Champions) Denmark at Wembley.

Q: Is the lack of English players in the Premier League a problem?

TV: You deal with what you have. The England 1966 team wasn’t necessarily packed with World class players, but they were tough minded and were able to adapt as the tournament went on. It is important to have a clear vision and get the players to ‘buy-in’ to it. People talk about creating a ‘club-spirit’ at international level, but what does that really mean. Winning is everything.

Q: What is the thought process for team/squad selection?

TV: As a manager you need to have a clear vision in the way the team should play. However, it should be adaptable. You need to be able to take players beyond what they think they can achieve. Venables was greatly inspired by the Dutch and their way of playing. When England beat Netherland 4-1 in Euro ’96, Guus Hiddink said it was the only time he was out-thought in a game. Venables added though that at Euro ’96 as Head Coach it was also a case of having the right people around you and not just ‘yes’ men.

Q: Why didn’t he carry on as England manager after Euro ’96?

TV: Essentially it was down to the contract. Venables believed that the Board was weak and this lead to uncertainty over his future contract. The FA would not offer a deal that would see him through to the World Cup, so that was that.

Terry Venables (England Manager 1994 - 1996)

Q: Who was the best England player Terry Venables managed?

TV: Without doubt Paul Gascoigne. Venables said that ‘Gazza’ had it all, but it was evident back then that football was his life and that the problems he has had after football are no surprise.

Q: What happened when Terry Venables returned to assist Steve McClaren in 2006/07?

TV: Whilst accepting that it didn’t work, Venables was glad that he had done it. He added that there were seven key players out that night, but at the end of the day it was not good enough.

Q: Would Terry Venables have changed tactics at 2-2 in that game against Croatia in November 2007?

TV: The momentum was with England and there were still 25 minutes to play. Venables said managing England is an ‘old man’s’ job. André Villas-Boas had had one good season at Porto, but had no experience of losing and how to deal with it.

Q: Does Terry Venables think that foreign coaches should manager England?

TV: Venables said that he was old-fashioned and that whilst he thought it wasn’t an issue at club level, an international manager should be ‘one of your own’. Jeff Powell added that no international team has got to a World Cup Final with a foreign coach. Venables added that the patriotic pull is important, but will be interested to see if Harry Redknapp is offered the position, will his salary be as high as that of the two previous ‘foreign’ English managers. He added that Redknapp was the main candidate, but the situation has dragged on too long. Valuable preparation time has been wasted.

Q: Does Harry Redknapp have the necessary skill-set?

TV: Redknapp does have the necessary skills, but Stuart Pearce has tournament experience with the England Under 21’s and knows the set-up. Roy Hodgson also had international experience with Switzerland and Finland, so maybe was in the frame as well.

Q: What did you think of Fabio Capello resigning?

TV: He said that Capello should have gone after the World Cup in South Africa (2010) and couldn’t understand why he carried on. Venables believed that Capello never really got culturally involved in the job and therefore was not able to understand his players individually – it seemed a relationship from afar.

Q: If offered the job will Harry Redknapp definitely accept it?

TV: Not sure. It is the right thing to do given that Spurs are in a good position and have had such a great season.

Q: What is Terry Venables view of the current players, given that the ‘Golden Generation’ didn’t deliver?

TV: Venables responded that we should be positive, and that any generation of players is a ‘Golden’ one.

Q: If there was no decision by the start of Euro 2012 and Terry Venables got the call, what would he do?

TV: Venables said that it was not going to happen, so there was no point in answering. Although did add, he would think about it.

Q: Has Terry Venables been too long out of the game to return to management, in as much as the issues Kenny Dalglish seems to be having after having 10 years away from a managers post?

TV: Sometimes absence makes the heart grows fonder! However, accepts that it would be hard and wouldn’t return if he didn’t think he could do a good job.

Q: Is Harry Redknapp the leading candidate for the England job?

TV: The country is behind him. The majority want Harry – he is the popular choice and is the supporters’ choice. However, supporters shouldn’t make decisions.

Q: Is the talent available to England better now or worse than when Terry Venables was England Manager?

TV: The squad was not in a great state when he took over after England had failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup (USA) and he managed to get them to Euro ’96 Semi-Finals. Believes that there are some good players in current squad.

Q: Is the England job able to be done on a part-time basis with a club job?

TV: No, the job is simply too big to be done part-time.

Soccerex European Forum – Manchester (March 2012): The Financial Management of Clubs

Day 2 – Thursday 29 March 2012

10:00 – 11:00            The Financial Management of Clubs

  • Dan Jones (Partner, Deloitte) [Moderator]
  • Philip Beard (CEO, QPR)
  • Trevor Birch (PKF International, appointed Administrator Portsmouth FC)


Dan Jones (Partner, Deloitte)

Dan Jones started the debate by asking Trevor Birch, whether he thought football was in a strong position or in financial crisis. Birch responded that it was a case of a bit of both, in that the Premier League was an incredibly successful export, but that as you moved down the League’s (and the Championship in particular), the picture was less rosy. He said that there were currently 5 or 6 Championship teams spending 100% of their revenue on players wages. Philip Beard said that a club finances were no different to the individual, in that if the debt could be serviced all well and good, but people had to live within their means. When teams chase the ‘Holy Grail’ that is the Premier League and are subsequently relegated, the business model has to be adjusted accordingly.

The next question from Dan Jones was with regard to whether football had been affected by the plight of the current economy. Trevor Birch said that for those clubs with a ‘Benefactor’, their situation was pretty much unchanged. However, the economy had hit football with sponsorship revenues and crowd attendances down. Birch added that Corporate Hospitality was down 20-30%, but that if there was success on the pitch, this was reflected off it. Philip Beard added that even in tough times, people needed entertainment and football had to ensure that it was entertainment of choice for people. This meant providing an experience on the pitch and around it, for instance using the stadium more than just on match days. Beard said that football has to work harder to generate revenues.

Philip Beard was asked by Dan Jones whether it had been difficult not having a football background before his role at QPR. Beard said that football and the business at the O2 (his previous role was as Chief Executive) were both about the talent. He reiterated though, that football had to ‘sweat its assets’ in the future, using its facilities for other things. Trevor Birch picked up on the entertainment and football analogy and said that the difference was that you can’t control football to the extent of a concert. Football is about what happens on the pitch and this ultimately affects success. He added that by making a mistake with buying a player or having a contract that doesn’t work out, millions can be lost and trying to find a sponsorship that generates money to cover that is difficult. Beard then spoke of his desire for a Premier League without relegation and cited the system of professional sport in America as the way forward.

UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules were the next topic for the panel. Trevor Birch believed that the principles are right, but added that it would be interesting to see how the penalties work and the way they are implemented. However, if it produced a more level playing-field, then ‘yes’ Birch agreed it was a good idea. Philip Birch maintained that football needs to be seen to be fairer, and cited FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain who were able to negotiate their own television rights which gave them incredible financial muscle (and therefore advantage) over the rest of the teams in La Liga.

Trevor Birch (PKF International, appointed Administrator Portsmouth FC)

In terms of a Salary Cap, Trevor Birch said that it would be in best interests of the Premier League to do this. He praised Arsenal FC for the way they had their ‘financial house’ in order, in that they had a new stadium and had remained competitive without causing financial meltdown. Philip Beard reiterated that clubs had to live within their means and that the FFP would slow down the ability to pay ‘big-end’ prices and increase the need for a club Academy to produce more talent.

The panel were asked whether the Premier League could learn anything from the Bundesliga. Trevor Birch said that one of the issues the League didn’t have to deal with is that of benefactors, since in Germany they have the 50+1 rule whereby a minimum of 51% of the club must be owned by club members. This means a  business can invest in a club, but prevents them from having overall control. The club board is made up of delegates selected by the shareholders. In this model the supporter membership associations have a direct input into the way the club is run. In addition the sponsorship and licensing system is strong, but is unable match the Premier League in media terms. Philip Beard said that as a model it ‘ticked many boxes’ and acknowledged that many German internationals preferred to play in the Bundesliga and that the clubs provided a League that was more competitive than its English counterpart. However, he reiterated Trevor Birch’s point that the Bundesliga did not have the global profile of the Premier League.

Trevor Birch was asked about the situation at Portsmouth FC. He replied that the club had suffered due to a succession of broken promises, some of which came from ‘benefactors’. Currently Portsmouth were trying to pay Premier League wages with Championship level revenues and said that it was difficult to move players on because of their high salaries, especially outside of the transfer window. Philip Beard was asked about QPR’s current plight and he responded that whatever division the club was playing in next season, the aim is to create a long-term position. This would include new training facilities and stadium which would have greater use and therefore revenue generation.

Philip Beard (CEO, QPR)

The panel was asked if the way Blackpool FC has approached their time in the Premier League was a model for other clubs. Trevor Birch acknowledged that to an extent what Blackpool achieved was a success story. However, different clubs approach promotion in different ways such as Burnley FC. Birch did not believe that there is one definitive model. Philip Beard suggested that Norwich City FC are currently another good model. He added the ideal is to have a situation which is stable and sustainable, with clubs holding onto players if they were relegated. However, this was not helped by Agents trying to renegotiate contracts, but he said that in the business world people move if offered a better position, so why shouldn’t it apply to football as well.

With QPR having an artificial pitch back in the 1990’s, Philip Beard was asked whether he could see one of the new generation of artificial surfaces returning to Loftus Road. Beard said that his preferred option would be a surface that could be moved in and out, whether being rolled-up or moved on blocks.

Trevor Birch was asked why he was so against the ‘Benefactor Model’. Birch responded by saying it was not illegal and there was no way of regulating against it, but ultimately that it was a model that is unsustainable in the long-term. He added that you only had to look at the plight of Portsmouth to see what damage the ‘Benefactor Model’ could produce.

The final question to Philip Beard asked whether QPR would ever groundshare (for instance with Chelsea). Beard said how in Europe and America is was common for different teams and even different sports to share stadiums and it made financial sense (in Italy, the Stadio Olimpico is used by Roma and Lazio for football, the Italy national team for rugby union and hosts athletics events). However, he accepted in England there was too much history and emotion for this to happen at the moment. As for a groundshare with Chelsea, that wasn’t on the cards!

Soccerex European Forum – Manchester (March 2012): Betting in Football

Day 1: Wednesday 28 March 2012

15:45 – 17:00            Betting in Football

  • Kevin Roberts (Editorial Director, Sport Business) [Moderator]
  • Chris Eaton (Head of Security, FIFA)
  • Theo van Seggelan (General Secretary FIFPRO)
  • Andrew Trollope (QC)
  • Russ Wiseman (Head of Media, Sportingbet)


L to R: Theo van Seggelan (General Secretary FIFPRO), Andrew Trollope (QC), Kevin Roberts (Editorial Director, Sport Business), Russ Wiseman (Head of Media, Sportingbet) and Chris Eaton (Head of Security, FIFA)

Kevin Roberts opened this session by acknowledging that betting in football is now huge business which has increased with the rise of online access and availability. However, he added there was a dark side to this, that came in the form of accusations of match-fixing. It has hit the headlines in other sports more recently, in regard to a number of Pakistan Test cricketers, but football knows it has problems to address.

Theo van Seggelan (General Secretary FIFPRO [International Federation of Professional Footballers – worldwide representative organisation for professional football players]), showed a video to the audience which was part of the FIFPro Black Book research into problems in Eastern European Football. The study covered a full spectrum of issues within the game in this part of the world, including match-fixing. Theo van Seggelan detailed that it was found that 50% of those involved in this illegal activity were suffering some form of contract problem and that the issue was not confined to players. To counter the situation, he suggested that there had to be a way that players were paid on time, that referees were appointed to games as late as possible, that there was the introduction of more play-offs, an amnesty and rehabilitation process was introduced and training and a code of conduct created for all those involved in the game. He added that evaluating information from ex-players who had been involved in match-fixing was vital as was an incentive scheme for ‘whistle-blowing’. Theo van Seggelan finished his presentation by concluding that match-fixing was the biggest threat to the game and that this was mainly coming from the East. In order to combat the issue, football needed the support of the authorities and required the collective effort of all the stakeholders. Even small steps are important in fighting to stop the game being ruined.

Kevin Roberts asked Russ Wiseman about what the betting industry does with regard to match-fixing allegations. Wiseman outlined how the regulated industry analyses betting patterns and if they feel there is a problem on a particular game or event, then betting is suspended. Given this situation he said it was more difficult these days to pull off a betting coup. He continued, that in the last 20 years the relationship between football and betting had changed. Most clubs have some form of betting link and it was an accepted income stream for the game. Looking back, 20 years ago, football accounted for 15% of bets, whereas now the figure is 70%. Wiseman said that the area for concern was the Asian Market and areas of unregulated betting.

Next to speak was Chris Eaton, who was asked how a big a problem was match-fixing according to FIFA. Eaton pointed out straightaway that players were not just the victims in this, in that they had a conscious choice in whether to become involved in fixing games. He agreed with Russ Wiseman in stating that the regulated industry was not a problem and that the unregulated markets of South East Asia were the areas of concern. He continued that in these parts of the world it was a major and well organised criminal activity that went well beyond the field of football. Eaton said it was a global issue and that the criminals were the responsibility of governments. Kevin Roberts asked though what FIFA was doing to address the problem. Eaton explained that FIFA recognised that players, referees and club administrators were being targeted and intimidated and was attempting to ensure that where possible access to these groups was limited. He added that the problems existed because of the economic or cultural vulnerability of some involved in football. By cultural vulnerability, Eaton explained that in some countries football players had no standing or respect and therefore were a target. He concluded that these criminals picked their targets, going for the easiest and weakest and therefore most vulnerable people.

QC Andrew Trollope was asked about the legal issues around football and betting problems and to whether the courts and police are set up to deal with it. Trollope cited cricket as an example where the system had worked, with the legal and cricket authorities working together to provide a clear process. In football, he said that there needed to be work with the regulators of the game and the introduction of a framework to protect those who inform from outside influences. It was important that there is a clear statement of principles for officials, chairman, referees and players, which identified the warning signs and provided guidance on likely games where issues may arise. Trollope stated that the education of young players was imperative, as was the need for some form of ‘whistle-blowing’. Those caught should suffer major consequences through criminal proceedings, but it has to be a consistent and worldwide approach. 

L to R: Theo van Seggelan and Andrew Trollope

The panel was asked if the youngest players were the most vulnerable to match-fixing. Chris Eaton replied that this wasn’t necessarily the case, since the approaches could be made to coaches and parents. He highlighted that those families who are financially vulnerable were easy targets and as a result the issue of ‘player-trafficking’ was becoming a menace.

Russ Wiseman then responded to a question about games at the end of a season, where results had more meaning. He reiterated that the betting industry was providing an early warning system when patterns emerged and they scrutinised those games where mutually beneficial results had a possible major impact. Wiseman said that where patterns were identified, betting was immediately suspended on the game in question. Theo van Seggelan suggested that perhaps more play-offs would help, in that there would be less betting on the place a team would finish in a league.

A question was asked as to whether ‘goal-line’ technology would help curb match-fixing. Chris Eaton replied that it could be a help, but in no way was it a solution, as this would not impact something like a referee awarding penalties late in a game.

It was brought to the panels attention that in recent years, tobacco sponsorship had been removed from sport on moral grounds, so on this basis was betting an appropriate partner for football. Russ Wiseman said that there was no conflict in the links that football had with betting. Many clubs had an official betting partner and a number had them as shirt sponsor. In working with the clubs, he believed this was a method of guarding against match-fixing. Chris Eaton added that for clubs and the betting industry it was in their mutual interest to have a game that was clean and fair, and that regulation was the key.

Chris Eaton was asked about his imminent move from FIFA to ICSS. Eaton informed the audience that the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) is an international not-for-profit institution, based in Doha, Qatar, that aims to help organizers stage safer world-class sporting events. Eaton said that he was disappointed that the FIFA ‘whistle-blowing’ programme had not got off the ground, but understood why it had been integrated into the wider Governance and Corruption investigations by World Football’s governing body. Theo van Seggelan highlighted that players would perhaps have been afraid to use a ‘hot-line’ without some form of protection and said that players were fearful of reporting incidents since they would be immediately suspended by their respective Football Associations. He also questioned how easy was it for players to get through to FIFA. Chris Eaton responded that there was a process in place, whereby information was taken in evidence form and action taken then against criminals. He added that he had been approached by players and other football officials in various places, who wanted to give evidence. However, for now it was a matter of waiting to see what findings emerge from the FIFA investigations into its own Governance before the next stage on eradicating match-fixing is established.

L to R: Russ Wiseman and Chris Eaton

It was asked whether betting in football should be stopped, to which Chris Eaton suggested that all this might do is cause a displacement of the money waged and therefore match-fixing from football to another sport, as well as increase the unregulated market.

Kevin Roberts closed the session by asking the panel for one thing they would do in relation to ‘Betting in Football’. Theo van Seggelan responded that he would have better education for young players and introduce a confidential help-line as part of a structure for ‘whistle-blowing’. Andrew Trollope agreed with these suggestions and stated that he believed the football industry could and should pay for the setting up of a suitable infrastructure and that it would be the responsibility of the National Football Associations. Russ Wiseman said that regulated betting provides valuable information on betting patterns, but action is still slow, as a case in point, where a game from last season was still being investigated (involving Levante and Sporting Gijon). Chris Eaton wanted a strong a committed partnership between Sporting Administrators’, Governments’, Regulators’ and Gambling Administrators’ to tackle the issues on a national and international level.

Soccerex European Forum – Manchester (March 2012): Prepare to Succeed – The Art of Management

Day 1: Wednesday 28 March 2012

14:00 – 15:00            Prepare to Succeed – The Art of Management

  • Guillem Balague (Sky Sports football expert) [Moderator]
  • Rafa Benitez (Former Valencia, Liverpool & Inter Milan manager)


Rafa Benitez opened his presentation by saying that the modern manager was one that had to adapt and move quickly with the changing times. The modern coach or manager has so much more information at their disposal, from sources such as Opta and Prozone. Having worked in England, Spain and Italy he is ideally placed to talk about the different ways clubs in these countries operate. For example he outlined possible operational models in England and Europe:

English Clubs are run by Owners or a Board, with responsibilities for Football Operations and Business Operations. The Manager being responsible for Football Operations and the Chief Executive in charge of Business Operations.

European Clubs are run by Owners, or a Board and maybe even a President. As in England they have the same responsibilities in terms of Football and Business Operations. In respect of Football Operations there can be a Football Director who works with the Head Football Coach. As in England, the Chief Executive takes charge of Business Operations.

As to which is better, Benitez stated that it was really culturally dependent, as both work. However, whatever the model, clubs will have objectives and illustrated what might constitute ‘Acceptable’ and ‘Successful’ outcomes:

  • Football Plan
  • Club Plan
  • First team results
  • Football Plan
  • Mid-table finish
  • Business Plan
  • Results & Projects
  • Challenge for titles


Benitez also highlighted that to succeed as a manager you need to understand what motivates players. However, this varies greatly, with different approaches taken for example by Sir Alex Ferguson, Vicente del Bosque and Harry Redknapp.

He also added that success for a Manager comes from a mentality where, victory is normal, not the exception; team success is paramount and the manager is eternally dissatisfied.

Clubs which had effective football and business plans would in Benitez opinion have stability and the ability to progress. Under the guidance of a Finance Director, the manager would be clear as to the budget available and the wage bill, and therefore its impact on squad numbers and level in relation to the competitions the club was involved in.

Benitez outlined that an effective Football Operations plan, included a sound structure and organisation, a progressive Academy and an analysis structure that reviewed playing resources and made decisions. In terms of Academy players, Benitez argued that the introduction of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules will drive clubs to produce more of their own players. He favoured a holistic approach so that there is development both as a player and as a person. What could help clubs is having a consistent approach, so that the model of play, systems and coaching is the same at all levels. This ideally would see talent progress from the Academy through the reserves to the first team. However the reality is that this is not producing enough players.

In terms of the focus of a club, Rafa Benitez stated that the obvious priority is the first team and therefore an associated football plan:

Objectives A Objectives B
  • Acceptable Season
  • Successful Season
  • Mid-table finish
  • Challenge for/win title
  • Challenge in Cups
  • Champions League Qualification
  • Days Off
  • Win Cups
  • Not much training
  • Attention to detail
  • Competitive training
  • Professional organisation


How are Objectives B achieved?

  • Understanding the city, the culture and the club;
  • Quality Medical Staff, full player records which are updated and analysed to prevent (where possible) injuries;
  • Pro-actively manage scouting department;
  • Data analysis – Amisco, Opta, Prozone etc. Conditioning data. Player Summaries.


Rafa Benitez is without question an advocate of data and analysis in football, but recognised that it has to be focused and backed with the right knowledge so that a balanced approach can be established. As an example he believed that his database of information relating to the analysis of penalties was vital for Liverpool when they won the shoot-out in the 2005 Champions League Final.

He argued that ‘Player Rotation’ is part of the modern game, with analysis used to make the most effective decisions. He added that change was necessary, since figures showed that modern players cover twice the distance of those from the 1950’s and 60’s and therefore resting has to be built into the season.

Rafa Benitez ended his presentation with the following quote: “…Managers in modern times have to be competitive with a passion for the game and new ideas that they can explain and defend without losing the old basic principles and team spirit…”

The session then continued with questions from the audience. First up was a question regarding how the ex-Liverpool boss viewed ‘mind-games’. He said that he didn’t believe they were important and that if you had a good team that was the position of strength. Also, many foreign players didn’t read the papers, so were often not aware of any’ mind-games’ being played. The main thing for players and managers was to focus on the job in hand.

Guillem Balague then asked Benitez what he had meant by his quote about manager’s being “…externally dissatisfied…” in that did it mean it was a lonely position. Benitez explained that for players they could express their dissatisfaction or complain through Facebook and Twitter. A manager or coach has to understand what motivates his players to deal with this.

A question was then posed from the audience about job offers now and in the future, given that Rafa Benitez had been out of management since December 2010. He said that he was looking to get back into the game in the Premier League. Benitez added though it would have to be at a club which had the financial backing to be title winners. He backed his abilities saying that he had proved he could win trophies and had a methodology he belived in and it was about improving clubs. There was a follow-up question which asked if a return to Anfield would ever be considered. Benitez said that there was no way he would go back now as Kenny Dalglish was in charge and had the backing of the owners. However, if he had to wait 10 years, he would happily go back.

Staying with Premier League teams, a question was poised as to why Manchester United and Manchester City were out of the Champions League whilst Chelsea had progressed. Rafa Benitez replied that there were a number of things to consider. Firstly, that other teams in Europe had improved, secondly in the case of Chelsea, their experienced players had regained belief showing that they are still a strong team. Lastly, the Premier League is still more about the physical game, the ability to go ‘box to box’ and less tactical. Ideally there should be a balance.

A question was asked about the relationship between managers and the media, which Benitez answered comparing England with Italy and Spain. In England there are the rounds with the papers, television and radio in a pretty formal arrangement. However, in Italy and Spain, the media is more intrusive with a greater presence on the training ground and even in the dressing room. He added though that the style in Spain tended to be more ‘off the record’, whilst in Italy it was more tactical.

There was an interesting question poised as to the importance of groundsmen at a club. Benitez responded that in Europe they had little regard, whereas in England they were well respected. He added that pitches were important and he insisted that the playing surfaces for matches and training were of the same standard. As a rule he thought it was prudent to have English staff at an English club for the cultural understanding they provided.

Guillem Balague took Benitez back to the UEFA Champions League Final of 2005 in Istanbul and asked what he said to the players at half-time. The ex-Liverpool boss simply said that he asked the players to play for pride and for the fans and that if they got a goal they would be back in it. He added that in tactical terms, Liverpool reverted to playing three at the back and pushed and pressed further up the pitch.

The final question to Rafa Benitez asked if he ever felt distracted by all the stats and figures in football today. His response was that computers allowed information to be managed and that as a coach he wanted all the information he could get. It was obvious to anyone in the audience that Benitez is a manager who has great faith in technology and during his presentation he demonstrated ‘Globall Coach’, an app he developed with his technical team. It is designed for use as a planner, organiser and visual coaching tool for all types of coaching sessions. It also can be used to prepare for matches by designing animations on tactics and movements to be used by both teams in a forthcoming match, as well as a scouting tool. Having been out of management for 15 months Rafa Benitez is now looking to get back into management. However, quite where that opening might be is up for debate right now.

Soccerex European Forum: Manchester (March 2012) – Player and Coach Development

Day 1: Wednesday 28 March 2012

11:30 – 12:45            Player and Coach Development

This session was divided into three parts. It began with a presentation from Raffaele Poli (Head of CIES Football Observatory –, which looked at their findings on the most training-orientated clubs in Europe. This was followed by Patrick Vieira in his role as Goodwill Ambassador for the (FAO) Food and Agriculture Organisation (United Nations), providing a brief presentation promoting the ‘Professional Football Against Hunger’ campaign. The third and final part of the session centred on discussions about ‘Player and Coach Development’ involving, Vieira, Gerard Houllier, Stuart Pearce and David Sheepshanks.

1.      Raffaele Poli (Head of CIES Football Observatory)

Raffaele Poli (Head of CIES Football Observatory)

The International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) is an independent study centre located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. It was created in 1995 as a joint venture between FIFA, the University of Neuchâtel, the City and State of Neuchatel. The CIES Football Observatory is part of CIES Observatory project, dedicated to the statistical analysis of sport in all its diversity. For this presentation Raffaele Poli looked at how CIES took UEFA’s definition of club-trained players (a player who has been registered for a minimum of three seasons with the club between the age of 15 and 21), as a starting point to compare trends measured since 2005 in each of the European clubs championships, assessing the impact of the Home-grown Rule introduced in the Premier League since 2010/11. The report presented data relating to individual clubs, ranking those that are fielding the most club-trained, and those that have trained the most players present in the top league clubs.

2.      Patrick Vieira (Goodwill Ambassador FAO)

Patrick Vieira with Kristalina Georgieva of the European Commission Humanitarian Office

Patrick Vieira along with Kristalina Georgieva of the European Commission Humanitarian Office took to the stage to promote the ‘Professional Football Against Hunger’ campaign. This is a joint initiative involving FAO, the European Union and the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL). There was a short video which highlighted the food crisis in the Sahel region of Africa where millions of people are facing hunger, and showed the efforts of the European Union and FAO to help people get back on their feet. This year’s ‘European Match Day Against Hunger’ will involve over 300 clubs in 20 leagues across 16 countries on the weekend of 30 March and 1 April 2012.

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3.      Player and Coach Development

Mark Warburton (Director, Next Generation) [Moderator], Gerard Houllier (Former Liverpool and Lyon manager), Stuart Pearce (Manager England Under 21’s and GB Olympic Team), David Sheepshanks (Chairman St George’s Park/National Football Centre) and Patrick Vieira (Football Development Executive, Manchester City FC)

The debate opened with Stuart Pearce being asked what changes he believed would occur in the next 20 years in football. The caretaker England manager said that development in sports science would continue to advance and so have a positive impact for players, coaches and managers in the future. He added that advancement would continue so that players had the very best in terms of training, back-up, analysis and rehabilitation, all supported  by world-class coaching. Pearce went onto say though that players had a responsibility themselves to take on board extra activities, whether that be analysis of their own game or additional training. In terms of finance, at the minute there is money in the game, but said who knows if that would be the case in 20 years time. However, he was excited by the St George’s Park scheme and its impact on the English game in the future, including providing more of a linked coaching structure between the full range of England teams, from Senior all the way to the Under 16’s.

Stuart Pearce

Gerard Houllier said that at Clairefontaine there was a focus on skill and it was used to instil into the youngsters that it was about training to be a professional (maybe 6-7 years) as in other careers. Houllier was technical director from when the centre opened in 1988 and said that it was 10 years before the rewards emerged when France became World Champions in 1998 and European Champions in 2000. Given that then perhaps England could look forward to being World Champions in Qatar in 2022 with St George’s due to open later this year. He added that he believed that Spain had taken the French model and improved upon it, bringing team player development to a new height and reaping those rewards becoming European Champions in 2008 and World Champions in 2010.

Keeping within the subject of training facilities, David Sheepshanks told the audience that it was 1975 when the idea of a National facility in England was first discussed. He added that central to St George’s Park National Football Centre was the aim that it was coaching focused, but would also provide world-class facilities for players, administrators and officials alike. It will be all about coaching and support (for instance, sports medicine and sports science) and is a long-term project and strategy for success.

Patrick Vieira said that he felt fortunate to be part of a celebrated generation of French footballers. However, he said that many of those players stayed at the top because of their sacrifices, commitment and responsibility in looking after themselves; showing the importance of the player taking responsibility.

Mark Warburton asked Stuart Pearce, what would be considered to be a good year for an Academy. Pearce replied that in his opinion, no club would commit numbers to saying how many players should progress through. The important things were that players improved and had long careers, whether that be at their first club or elsewhere.

In relation to Grassroots football, Pearce believed that the change to the ‘Small-Pitch’ game for 8, 9 and 10 year olds would be beneficial aligned with a move away from the pressure of getting results. Training and development should be enjoyable and if a child had a good coach, they would be more likely to continue playing the game. David Sheepshanks added that for the first time roles for Age Specific Coaches will be developed, which will be paid jobs and provide a recognised career path.

The Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) would also bring benefits, as Stuart Pearce outlined that players would be at the centre of the development process and provided with the best opportunities in terms of coaching, access and education. However, both Patrick Vieira and Gerard Houllier believed that the issue around playing time for the 18-21 groups in England was an issue, in that lack of competitive playing time was a problem.

L to R: David Sheepshanks, Gerard Houllier, Mark Warburton, Patrick Vieira and Stuart Pearce

Stuart Pearce was asked with his ‘Olympic-hat’ on, whether the issue regarding the selection of players from some of the home countries had cast a negative shadow over the GB football team. Pearce responded that he was entirely positive about the situation and the players were his focus and he hoped that there would be a ‘feel-good’ factor created as three had been in England during Euro ’96.

In terms of player development, the panel was asked what part lower League clubs had to play in the process. Stuart Pearce said that staying involved at whatever level was important and that clubs, irrespective of status, had a duty of care, along with schools, parents, indeed anyone getting children into football, to make sure they encouraged the love of football.

Gerard Houllier added that as players got older there should be a suitable support mechanism in place, so that good habits, both on and off the pitch were instilled. Patrick Vieira believed that mentally preparing players for being in the first team was important and Stuart Pearce added that positive role models (from senior players) in the dressing room were vital.

The panel was asked whether the loaning of players from Premier League clubs to League 1 and 2 clubs is actually useful, since the way these clubs prepare will be different to the parent club. Stuart Pearce believed that the match experience and pressure is enough and it’s not all about the system played or the need to replicate the Premier League situation. A relegation battle for a young player can be a real and tough life experience. Gerard Houllier agreed, adding that the loan system provided players with mental toughness, but that no loan system existed in France, as the French have the B League.  David Sheepshanks summarised that the loans system created a ‘win-win’ situation that was invaluable for Football League clubs. Patrick Vieira however, warned that clubs had to be careful where youngsters were sent because the pressure of winning could be detrimental if the player wasn’t mature enough to handle the situation. Stuart Pearce reasoned that there had to be a balance between competition and pressure and that developing and learning how to cope with losing was equally important as dealing with winning.

The final question asked about the role of traditional educations in Football Academies. Gerard Houllier said that in France, schools had a normal day of classes with football activities taking place afterwards. The Harefield Academy in North London (where Mark Warburton has been involved) was cited as an exemplary establishment where the Academy players trained with other athletes and got to play in the school teams.

Soccerex European Forum: Manchester (March 2012) – UEFA’s Centralisation of Media Rights

Day 1: Wednesday 28 March 2012

10:00 – 10:45            UEFA’s Centralisation of Media Rights

  • Matt Lorenzo (Head of Media, Soccerex) [Moderator]
  • Gianni Infantino (General Secretary, UEFA)
  • Guy-Laurent Epstein (Marketing Director, UEFA)
  • Denni Strich (Marketing Director, Deutscher Fussball-Bund)
  • Niall Sloane (Controller of Sport, ITV)


 This session began with a presentation from Gianni Infantino. He outlined that the intention of the deal was to provide financial stability to the various European National Associations and would come into effect from 2014. Amongst the expected Benefits would be:

  1. Centralised organisation by UEFA of fixtures (this was previously carried out between each country);
  2. A single point of sale to the media;
  3. Increased branding revenues and sponsorship.


The agreement would also see the introduction of ‘The Week of Football’, which meant that the dates and way international qualifiers were staged, would be changed, with double-header matches staggered across a period from Thursdays to Tuesdays. These would have uniform kick-off times and be promoted to provide maximum exposure.

Guy-Laurent Epstein followed the opening presentation in detailing how UEFA was aiming to create value for broadcasters and an opportunity to cover football across a whole week of football at a time when there was no other football being played. It would also provide greater choice for viewers, with 9 games available on any given day. He outlined how there would be a branded ball which would be used during Qualification and the Finals and options regarding advertising boards, which would allow Associations to take, none, some or all of the UEFA sponsor options.

L to R: Denni Strich (Marketing Director, Deutscher Fussball-Bund), Guy-Laurent Epstein (Marketing Director, UEFA), Niall Sloane (Controller of Sport, ITV) and Gianni Infantino (General Secretary, UEFA)

Denni Strich accepted that the German National Team already had a strong profile and identity, but that this agreement is about the question of solidarity and the desire to strengthen and to develop other smaller National Teams.

From a broadcasting perspective, Niall Sloane believed that dealing with one entity will make life easier in terms of negotiation, but will be interested to see the details of the various packages and how they will work in practice. He added that he could see it as an opportunity to show games (other than those involving the Home Nations) on channels such as ITV4. Sloane was also interested to see what the impact might be on the future of friendly internationals.

Matt Lorenzo asked whether this was a battle between the Champions League and the European Championship and was answered with a definite ‘no’, from the UEFA panellists, who insisted this was about the need to strengthen and create a passion and unique identity for both the Qualification and Finals of the tournament at international level.

The session ended with questions from the audience. The first question to the panel asked whether that with 24 teams due to qualify for the Finals in France 2016, would this detract from drama as more teams would qualify and be under less pressure. Gianni Infantino responded that he hoped that it would have the opposite outcome, in that more teams would have something to play for and therefore more games would have meaning. He acknowledged though that the situation would be reviewed and if the larger qualification and Finals didn’t work, then it could be changed.

There then followed two separate questions, as the audience sought clarification as to why the English Football Association had not signed the final agreement. The UEFA response was that the outstanding points to resolve were minor and it was not an issue.

The panel was then asked how this deal would work, when for example within the Confederation of African Football, bigger countries (such as Egypt and South Africa) want their own media and sponsorship deals. Denni Strich responded that the European agreement gives UEFA the authority to do the best for all concerned and that all the National Associations have bought into that and importantly accepted that together they were stronger and therefore in a better position.

It was asked whether it was conceivable a single broadcaster could broker a pan-European deal. However, Guy-Laurent Epstein believed this would be highly unlikely.

The final question of the session asked whether this proposal was this the last chance for International football given the strength and influence of the Champions League. Gianni Infantino accepted that currently audiences and sponsorship varied greatly amongst the various European national teams; however this agreement wasn’t about ‘Club v Country’, but an opportunity to strengthen the international game and its associations in Europe.

Soccerex European Forum: Manchester (March 2012) – Opening Ceremony

Day 1: Wednesday 28 March 2012

09:30 – 10:00            The Soccerex Opening Ceremony

  • Matt Lorenzo (Head of Media, Soccerex) [Host]
  • Sir Howard Bernstein (Chief Executive, Manchester City Council)
  • Tony Martin (Chairman, Soccerex)
  • Dennis Law (ex Manchester United & Scotland player)
  • Mike Summerbee (ex Manchester City & England player)

    L to R: Sir Howard Bernstein, Dennis Law and Tony Martin.

The 2012 Soccerex European Forum at Manchester Central ‘kicked-off’ with an opening address from Sir Howard Bernstein, the Chief Executive of Manchester City Council. In welcoming all the delegates to the event he stressed the importance of how sport, including football, can be at the very heart of regeneration up and down the country. Manchester he said, had benefited and been left with a tremendous legacy from the 2002 Commonwealth Games, with investment improving and contributing to culture and community across the city and significant partnership working between the Council and Manchester City FC. Sir Howard added that a key to the success of the 2012 London Olympics would be the legacy it leaves.

Tony Martin, Chairman of Soccerex, was able to announce to the audience that Manchester had secured the right to host the Global Soccerex Event (covering 5 days) from 2014, taking over from Rio de Janeiro.

The Opening Ceremony closed, with an appearance from two of Manchester’s footballing legends, Dennis Law and Mike Summerbee, who talked about how this seasons Premier League challenge between City and United reminded them of the 1960’s when both clubs battled in a similar fashion for the title. Host Matt Lorenzo, quizzed the legends on who would take the League trophy and it was no surprise that the ex-players stuck with the teams they played for!

Soccerex European Forum: Manchester (March 2012) – Programme of Events

Detailed below are the events for the two days at Manchester Central, with a review attached of the particular sessions attended:

Day 1 Programme – Wednesday 28 March 2012

Soccerex Studio 1: Sessions

09:30 – 10:00            The Soccerex Opening Ceremony (Review)

  • Matt Lorenzo (Head of Media, Soccerex) [Host]
  • Sir Howard Bernstein (Manchester City Council)
  • Tony Martin (Chairman, Soccerex)
  • Dennis Law (ex Manchester United & Scotland player)
  • Mike Summerbee (ex Manchester City & England player)

10:00 – 10:45            UEFA’s Centralisation of Media Rights (Review)

  • Matt Lorenzo (Head of Media, Soccerex) [Moderator]
  • Gianni Infantino (General Secretary, UEFA)
  • Guy-Laurent Epstein (Marketing Director, UEFA)
  • Denni Strich (Marketing Director, Deutscher Fussball-Bund)
  • Niall Sloane (Controller of Sport, ITV)

11:30 – 12:45            Player and Coach Development (Review)

  • Mark Warburton (Director, Next Generation) [Moderator]
  • Gerard Houllier (Former Liverpool and Lyon manager)
  • Stuart Pearce (Manager England Under 21’s and GB Olympic Team)
  • David Sheepshanks (Chairman St George’s Park/National Football Centre)
  • Patrick Viera (Goodwill Ambassador FAO and Football Development Executive, Manchester City FC)
  • Raffaele Poli (Head of CIES Football Observatory)

14:00 – 15:00            Prepare to Succeed – The Art of Management (Review)

  • Guillem Balague (Sky Sports football expert) [Moderator]
  • Rafael Benitez (Former Valencia, Liverpool & Inter Milan manager)

15:45 – 17:00            Betting in Football (Review)

  • Kevin Roberts (Editorial Director, Sport Business) [Moderator]
  • Chris Eaton (Head of Security, FIFA)
  • Theo van Seggelan (General Secretary FIFPRO)
  • Andrew Trollope (QC)


Soccerex Studio 2: Workshops

09:00 – 13:00            Player Transfers & Insurance Workshop

The European Professional Football Leagues (EFPL) host a workshop featuring leading European stakeholders on the subject of player transfers and insurance.

14:00 – 15:00            Fraud, Law and Finance

In a dedicated workshop, Andrew Trollope QC and solicitor Paul Martin will address key issues affecting the game and all those who participate in it including: Match Fixing, Police Investigations, UEFA’s Financial Fair Play, Policy and Bribery and Corruption here and abroad.

15:45 – 17:45            France 2016 Stadia Workshop

Stadia issues remain at the heart of the football industry and with preparation for Euro 2016 and 2018 FIFA World Cup underway, this workshop will take a look at what new stadium projects lay ahead and all the other latest developments shaping the industry.



Day 2 Programme – Thursday 29 March 2012

Soccerex Studio 1: Sessions

10:00 – 11:00            The Financial Management of Clubs (Review)

  • Dan Jones (Partner, Deloitte) [Moderator]
  • Phillip Beard (CEO, QPR)
  • Trevor Birch (PKF International, appointed Administrator Portsmouth FC)

11:45 – 12:45            The Tricky Business of Managing England (Review)

  • Jeff Powell (Daily Mail) [Moderator]
  • Terry Venables (Former England Manager)

14:00 – 15:00            For Better or Worse – Football and The Media (Review)

  • Guillem Balague (Sky Sports football expert) [Moderator]
  • Gaizka Mendieta (Sky Sports and Former Spanish International)
  • Gary Neville (Sky Sports and Former England International)
  • Brian Barwck (Founding Partner, Barwick Media & Sport)
  • Paul Hayward (Chief Sports Writer, Daily Telegraph)

15:45 – 16:45            The Soccerex Supplement (Review)

  • Dan Walker (BBC)
  • Paddy Barclay (Football Writer)
  • Phil Thompson (Sky Sports and Former England International)
  • Peter Reid (Former England International)
  • Bryan Robson (Former England International)
  • John Barnes (Former England International)


Soccerex Studio 2: Workshops

09:30 – 10:00            Emerging Markets – Lagos

  • Seyi Akinwunmi (Chairman, Lagos State Football Association)

This session will share insight into ‘Ekofootball’, a vision with the aim to take football forward in Lagos, covering all areas of football including learning, infrastructure, youth development, professional football, and the business of football. As a result a wide range of business opportunities will present itself across the wide spectrum of the football community.

10:30 – 11:45            Emerging Markets – India

  • Sukhvinder Singh (Managing Director, Libero Sports, India) [Moderator]
  • Kushal Das (General Secretary, All-India Football Association)
  • Desh Deepak Verma (Director General, Sports Authority of India)
  • Vishwajeet Kadam (Secretary, Bharati Vidyapeeth)
  • Ashu Jindal (COO, IMG-Reliance)
  • Mario de Vivo (Chief Commercial Officer, Internazionale Milan)
  • Rajpal Singh (Additional Director, FICCI Sports Committee)

This session will focus on the unique business opportunities in Indian Football. The speakers consist of the most relevant stakeholders from the administration, ministry, clubs, corporate and academic level and will share valuable case studies and relevant experiences of developing football in India.

10:30 – 11:45            Emerging Markets – Azerbaijan

  • Nargiz Mammadova (LOC Co-ordinator, FIFA Under 17 Women’s World Cup 2012)
  • Vugar Rustamli (Volunteering Director, LOC, FIFA Under 17 Women’s World Cup 2012)

This session will cover a wide range of topics related to the opportunities offered to the football industry in the country, with particular focus on the FIFA Under 17 Women’s World Cup 2012, the International Volunteering Programme and co-operation opportunities between NGO’s, sports institutions, international media and more.

14:00 – 14:30            A Fan Engaging Formula

  • Duncan Burbridge (CEO, StreamUK)
  • Ryan McKnight (Editor, FC Business)

StreamUK partnered with Liverpool FC in 2011 to revamp the club’s online video offering, an offering which now claims to be the most successful online subscription service of any football club in the world. An in-depth interview will see StreamUK CEO Duncan Burbridge explore “Tribal Technology” as well as the Liverpool FC online video offering, demonstrating its interactive, social and integrated technology.


14:45 – 15:15            Improving your Events through Stadium Sound Systems

  • Oliver Sahm (Director of Technical Support ProAudio EMEA, Bosch Communications Systems)

This session will focus on the topics of sound systems in modern stadiums and arenas, sharing experiences on PA and sound systems, their costs, proposes and how they add value to events and return on investments for stadium owners.

15:30 – 16:00            Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) – Obligations and Opportunities

  • Andy Simmons (Owner, KSS)
  • Darren Eales (Director of Football Administration, Tottenham Hotspur FC)

This workshop will explore the recent finalisation of the EPPP and discuss the constraints and opportunities presented by these guidelines, what it means for clubs and the design opportunities and challenges it presents.

16:15 – 16:45            The Rise of the Internet

  • Ben Beeson (Partner, Lockton LLP)

This session will take a look at the emerging risks on privacy and to the individual with the rise of internet companies such as Google and Facebook and their willingness to share personal data and how new media technologies such as online social networking potentially impact organisations in the football industry.