The value of communications in the sports industry

Even in the sports industry where results on the field typically speak for themselves, communication is becoming increasingly more important and valuable.

Take Arsenal FC for example. The North London club is adopting a more sophisticated sports marketing model and central to this is a shift to a US-influenced corporate communication policy. The first step towards the new business model began in January 2009 when the club appointed Ivan Gazidis, then deputy commissioner of Major League Soccer in the USA, as its new chief executive. The club’s publicized recent search for a new head of communications, to replace Amanda Docherty after 12 years in the post, is further evidence of the club’s new approach to communication.

Arsenal is seeking an authentic voice which can articulate the brand values that the club represents. On a daily basis, Arsenal FC, like any other business, has to share meaningful and relevant information with customers (fans), sponsors, partners and investors – increasingly on a global scale.

The chosen person for the open head of communications position will have to answer to and work with the great Arsene Wenger who has had a colossal presence and influence at the club since his arrival in 1996. Wenger himself is a great communicator who can converse in six languages, has a master’s degree in Economics from the University of Strasbourg and is somebody who has real confidence in statistical analysis. In other words, Wenger and his coaching staff, who manage the club’s assets on the pitch, also understand the importance of information and communication.

The Gunners were valued by Forbes in 2010 as the 3rd most valuable soccer team in the world after Manchester United and Real Madrid, with an expected value of £837 million ($1.2 billion). The club was ranked 8th most valuable sporting franchise overall. Arsenal’s shares are still traded on the Plus market, an exchange for smaller companies, meaning that anyone can buy shares.  So anyone could potentially have a vested interest in the regular statements from Avenell Road, Highbury N5.

If the club can successfully embed the new corporate communication policy, it should find it easier to develop and communicate brand values domestically and globally – and that means generating more revenue for the club.

About author

Chris Conway
Chris Conway 8 posts

Chris worked in banking for over 10 years as a management accountant before deciding to change careers and transition to the sports industry. He has recently completed a MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management. The course incorporated a semester at Stern business school, New York University where Chris specialised in sports marketing, sports economics and digital marketing. These studies were supplemented by a four month sports marketing internship at New York Sportimes where Chris managed social media and assisted with PR and communications. The Sportimes is a professional tennis franchise that plays in the World Team Tennis league and features legends McEnroe and Clijsters on its roster. Chris still resides in New York and is enjoying immersing himself in what is happening on and off the field in all the sports that the city has to offer– from the Yankees to the rugby union Churchill Cup. A close follower of the latest trends in sports marketing and social media, Chris has seized the opportunity to be a contributing author for this site. He is hoping to land a marketing role and assist sports organisations with his expertise when he returns to Sydney late 2010. Chris is a lover of all sports, a part- time road runner and a grass-roots rugby union coach. You can follow his regular tweets on @chrisconway74.

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