Football management needs to change for better returns
Football clubs have evolved and management should change to be in line with modern business trends.
Clubs are not different from any listed or private business and the stakeholders are fans who invest heavily in them.
This is in terms of support, ticket and merchandise purchases. Their returns are in emotional gratification, be it through a championship or cup wins, promotion or surviving the big chop.
For fans to get these returns, clubs need to exist, participate in competitions with have sound management.
Kenya’s biggest and oldest clubs AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia have existed, participated in competitions but had issues with management.
Their fans have had mixed returns. The clubs had a slump for over a decade and fans had no returns.
But the two have recently regained their status and the returns are being felt with followers walking in town chin up while proudly flaunting the teams’ stripes.
In spite of this, to guarantee the future of any football club it must work together with the business world. For a long time, clubs have not followed the basic principles of running a successful business.
The first thing they should do is to get a coach who knows what he is doing. The coach should be given time to achieve his vision. Continuity breeds success and it allows a good coach to buy into and develop an idea.
The second principle of running a football club is to use all income generated to run the club— players need to be paid fairly and on time and expenses be settled promptly.
To generate income, club assets must have good returns. This includes sale of shirts, sponsorship opportunities and corporate sales.
After achieving these, the hardest task for managers is to ensure that monies generated are ploughed back into the club. We have had cases of directors using this income to finance their own external, non-football-related matters.
In Kenya, we lack the capacity to elect proper officials as we usually end up with leaders fixated with their political and personal aggrandisement while neglecting core duties.
We don’t have leaders who can go out of their way to fund player purchases and be repaid interest-free. The managers appear more interested in doing business with clubs.
Investment in club welfare should be given priority. We need to have well-structured contracts that clearly spell out players’ wages, bonuses, medical benefits and exit clauses.
Players are dropped unceremoniously without any compensation.
Clubs often lose key players whenever they are relegated as they cannot continue paying good wages due to loss of revenues.
Contracts should indicate that the wages can change depending on promotion or relegation.
This will be a big boost to the financial security of clubs and maintaining quality players in lower leagues or the Kenyan Premier League. This coupled with sound management will guarantee the proper existence of football clubs.
Kenya abounds with talent, but clubs have barely made a mark beyond the region.