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Thursday, 30 June 2011

Why is the Green Green Grass Greener...

It’s not unusual for any individual to want to better themselves.  In fact, you kinda hope that each and every individual has a fire burning deep within them to always be striving for personal improvement.
Life within sports is
A - similar in that, of course, there is an expectation to always be looking to better yourself.
B - even more likely to see this self improvement desire surface - with the very public nature of one’s employer and their respective abilities (if you are good at Tranmere Rovers, you want to move to Manchester (U or C), if you are going well in Cleveland, you (might) want to move to Miami where the Heat is stronger (you assume)).
So to see a coach move on to a new opportunity is ‘not an unusual occurrence’.  Players do it all the time.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

This Sales lark is hard.....

For the vast majority of northern hemisphere professional sports teams - the summer is the off season (putting Major League Baseball and the quaint English Cricket counties aside).  Time for players to get a couple of weeks holiday and refresh their bodies ready for pre season training kicking in right about now....  Any self respecting sports club however is at 24/7 365 all year round, and whilst the players (and supporters) may be on off-season - club staff will be working hard behind the scenes to make sure they start the new season well.
With increasing pressure on everyone’s wallet - times are tight for us all - and there is more & more pressure on clubs staff to generate sales.  You gotta bring in the cash to pay for the improved players who will fill the new stadium which will allow you to bring in more cash....... (and so the Circle of Sporting life goes on).

Sunday, 26 June 2011

When owners attack

Scottish football club, Heart of Midlothian, are relatively infamous for being a club that has faced a wide and large number of issues over the past few years....  They court publicity (deliberately and accidentally) on a random and regular basis...  Life with the ‘Hearts’ is nothing if not newsworthy....
So there was no real surprise to see a recent club statement that was probably germinated in good intention with real plans to provide the club with real benefit, but instead just resulted in a swathe of head scratching / giggling / or plain “now what are they doing to my club” reactions (have a read here and you will understand why).

Friday, 24 June 2011

Memories to Inspire

25 years ago round about now, Diego Maradona brutalized the England Soccer team with his two goals in the Qtr final of the World Cup.  One a thing of beauty (seen by many as the greatest goal of all time) and the other a thing of controversy (Volleyball in the Olympics never looked this good).  Diego went on to win the World Cup (and set himself up as possibly the GOAT), whilst I was inspired to follow a career in sports.
Whilst it is tough to pinpoint when the fires started burning (I had already played Soccer / Rugby / Cricket / Boxing and Hockey, and was a Stats geek from the age of dot) for a future career in sports - looking back, I think the World Cup of 1986 sealed it for me.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Time after time

“I need a little time.......” - so say the Beautiful South (English late 80’s / 90’s pop band of some repute!!) - and with today’s announcement that Chelsea FC are onto manager # ‘lots’ with Andre Villa-Boas exciting appointment, there is a general consensus (example here) that Roman Abramovich really needs to give the new manager a good period of time to ‘work things out’.....
The most famous british example is of Sir Alex Ferguson - 20+ years at Man Utd, but within minutes of the boot (losing his job) after a tough start.  Wow - how the ‘time given’ back then has paid off since then - 12 league titles, 2 European Cups, and plenty more.  And in the past 8 years - since Roman started his wealth-assault on the title, Manchester have claimed 1/2 the titles available.  With the same manager safe in his position.......

Monday, 20 June 2011

A look into the future (Part I)

It couldn’t happen........  could it???
The NFL are in the midst of ‘negotiations’ with their players and the game is ‘locked out’..........  The NBA are just a few short steps away from something pretty similar....  The two other major US sports’ collective bargaining agreements (agreements by which the Clubs, their players and the owners and league agree on all the major issues in the sport #cashmostly) come to end within the next season.  Lawyers are going to be very busy!!
Over the other side of the Atlantic, the major powerhouses of the European soccer scene are flexing their transfer muscles with bids for the various jewels (or other shiny-ish objects) currently available for team improvement.  Successive years see higher and higher amounts spent on buying players - with equally higher and higher amounts leaving the game (via myriad of purchase options).

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Fan Power

Recent days have seen ‘fan power’ exerted across the global sporting landscape.  Seemingly Birmingham City FC were turned away from Steve Mclaren because of supporter disquiet (though the same club seems set not to listen to the the same supporters with regard to Alex Mcleish).

Supporters ran crazy in Vancouver after their team’s subsidence in the Stanley Cup finals, whilst at the opposite end of the scale, the EPL are seemingly shutting down the Supporter's Direct Trust.
It raises the question as to how teams should interact with their supporters, and even how much should they let supporters make decisions for them.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A hidden Gem

No lessons to be learnt here just a good ole honest appreciation of one of the planet’s under-appreciated sporting spectacles....
Having worked in sports for close to 15 years now - my enjoyment of watching sport has changed from the days of my youth.  The business side of sports makes you watch in a different light - looking for innovation, for error, for ideas.  Consequently I watch less sport now than I used to (my wife will probably disagree), and certainly the enjoyment I get from watching sport is less than it used to be. (:-()
As a sports lover extraordinaire however, I still need my fix - and I find now that it is the bigger events that draw me in (again partially I guess because there is more scope to learn from these aswell).

Monday, 13 June 2011

The team wins

It’s not often that you would put the NBA (brash, modern) in the same bracket as the RFU (staid, old-fashioned).  But last night’s result in the NBA finals, where Lebron failed to extend the series (and subsequently opened himself up to a night - and more to come no doubt - of suffering and abuse), has a few lessons for the leaders over at Twickenham HQ.
Both Lebron and the RFU have had a pretty awful past 2 weeks - with Lebron’s failure to turn his much publicized defection from the Cavs into a championship ring, and the RFU seemingly doing all they can to generate poor PR over their hunt for new staff.  But it does not end there........

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Snow White vs the Wicked Witch of the World

Life, life what’s you make it - so said one of the best named bands of all time (so good, they named it twice).  And it is a great sentiment - one that can certainly hold true.  For those of us who are uber motivated, who strive towards agreed goals, who map out our lives with lists of must do’s, and who have plans for the next week/year/five years - then life truly is what you make it (though life will do it’s best to put hurdles in your way).
If you have read the ‘great to read’ “Bounce”, you will be aware of Matthew Syed’s thoughts as to how genius comes from loads of really hard work (presented in an oversimplified way).  Sadly, for the vast majority of today’s society (let’s label the collective group as one individual - for example “Snow White” - kind/naive/sweet - certainly at its core) - life is not what they make it.   Read on........

What's in a Name?

This week’s news that the Magners League (a professional Rugby league comprising the celtic nations - Wales, Scotland and Ireland - and Italy) is going to be renamed the RaboDirect Pro12 will have excited just about no one - at first hearing it does sound a bit of a mouthful.  No disrespect to the competition (in which I used to work) nor the sponsor now associated with it - but it is a good example of sport’s over-reliance on corporate income.  For a league looking to build it’s own footprint - the move from Magners League to the RaboDirect Pro 12 - will certainly not be a seamless one. 
Of course the most commercially advanced leagues in the world - those in the USA - do not have a Title sponsor - meaning that the league need never change it’s name - meaning that the league is free to grow that brand and grow the income streams that support it.  It’s just ‘The NFL’, ‘The NBA’, etc etc.  

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Social Media in Sports needs a Kick

The past 2-3 years has seen the world develop a Social media fixation.  Lady Gaga now has more Twitter followers than the great city of London has inhabitants, whilst news media are struggling to find ways to compete with the power and immediacy of the revolution. Hell - even my last two blogs have focused on it - (#weareallfixated)
In reality for the business world there is a whole lot to get excited about - and for the sports industry where the ‘product’ has an inherent interest to its fans - social media should be a tool to get super-excited about.  And for clubs - whose existence increasingly depends on generating awareness / interest and attendance (providing they all lead to cash!) - social media should be really driving their businesses. 
Sadly the majority of clubs have failed to ‘grasp the nettle’ and certainly I am not ‘excited’ with the way in which many sports clubs are going about their Social Media strategies.  (and certainly not when compared to how other industries have caught on).

Saturday, 4 June 2011

It's good to talk

People are looking forward to July 2 when David Haye faces one of the Klitchkos in one of the biggest heavyweight bouts for a long, long time....  Interest on both sides of the Atlantic and across Europe will see big audiences see these monsters colide.
What is surprising though is that so many experts (and no doubt many folk swayed by these experts) believe that the Hayemaker has ‘talked’ his way into the fight.  The current WBA champion (and former Ring cruiserweight unified champion a la Evander Holyfield) has certainly talked a lot (more of that later), but who should Wlad be fighting instead??  Another of the likely lads from his past record - certainly no more talent on that list...