The right partner club
One of the outcomes of the Covid crisis is that organisations in football will have to work collaboratively to restore the health of the sport. One such collaboration may be formal partnerships between clubs; we’ve explored why, and how to go about it.
Based on our conversations in the market, we know that ownership groups are increasingly pursuing a multi-club model. However, the fact remains that buying a football club is a long and often challenging process – and that’s before you even begin discussions on club strategy, operations and how to align with other clubs in the group.
Multi-club groups are attractive because they open up opportunities for efficiency. This includes exploiting economies of scale in processes like talent identification, a chance to transfer knowledge between clubs, and of course provide pathways for talent. There is no reason why this can’t happen outside the structure of an ownership group though, with the implementation of formal partnerships.
The key is being able to shortlist suitable partners from a list of (at least in our database) over 4,500 clubs. Ideally, we’d want to find clubs that fulfil some criteria, such as:
- For the purposes of talent transfer, a partner club(s) that is of the right level and has stability: given senior minutes is important for young players, we’d need to find a club that isn’t too good such that our players don’t play, or too poor such that they don’t develop. And since we wouldn’t be in control of the day-to-day running of the club, a club that has shown stability (e.g. low head coach turnover) would suggest that players that are transferred across will be going to a secure environment
- For the purposes of centralised scouting resources, a partner club(s) that plays in a similar style: clearly there’s no use having a partner club that plays in a polar opposite style. If both clubs are looking for the same attributes in players, if a scouted player is too expensive, or not quite at the right level, then it becomes easy to ‘pass off’ the player to the other club, where they may be a better fit.
- For the purposes of knowledge sharing, a partner club that has demonstrated efficiency: the best clubs don’t necessarily have ownership over best practice. Often teams on smaller budgets have things we can learn from, and we might seek to implement these learnings at our club.
This shortlisting process can be done with analytics; rather than relying on networks and opportunism, data can both widen the net for clubs and allow us to be more targeted with the identification of partners. We’ve picked out some suitable teams for the exciting, attacking Sassuolo in Serie A, above. From there, there’s a chance to build relationships with these clubs, and see who is the best fit in reality. It’s a bit like online dating; we filter for a partner with, on paper, similar interests, thus increasing the chances of hitting it off.
Partnerships are just one creative solution that is likely to emerge from this crisis. As more clubs work out their strategy in this area, being first to market will provide competitive edge in talent development, talent ID, and potentially other areas of football operations.