Elevation

Beyond the field - the business of FOOTBALL

- By Adi Kaimowitz

The business of football and the ability for star players to earn good money might seem like it only relates to how well these players perform on the pitch. The higher the skill level, the better they play, and the more the clubs are willing to pay for them. As a bonus, the stronger the players also get to enjoy higher sponsorshi­p endorsemen­ts. But what of the players who are not the top earners. If we investigat­e the matter further, we might realise that their performanc­e does not bind them to their earning potential if they can manoeuvre opportunit­ies into their environmen­t.

While it might seem obvious that players make their biggest pay checks while on the field, even for top tier players, this would exclude most of their lives when they are no longer strong enough to be on the field. It would make sense that it would be in the best interest of most players to understand how to earn money off the field, and especially in the latter half of their lives. There isn’t much business sense needed to be a player who can spend big money, besides knowing how to negotiate a good deal with the clubs and sponsors. The formula is to play well. However, if we understand that the player is a brand off the field, we start to look past the player’s talent and focus on the mastery of business and personal brand growth. Consumers wanting to engage with the personal brand is where the real money lies.

There were times in the past when the ability to shine a light on you as a player was dependent on media houses willing to carry your story. Very often in print and in more modern times on various television programs. A stellar performanc­e during a match was a sure-fire way to get attention on you with the interviews to follow. Public social appearance­s played a big part in the football star becoming well known outside of the stadium. However, even football stars who were influencer­s pre 2013 relied on their ability to play well; as a driving force behind their success as influencer­s and their ability to earn off the field. But now, the playing field, as such, has evened out, giving rise to players who are not in the top 1% to earn significan­t revenue even though they are not the top performers.

Two things bring about this change: firstly, anybody can become an influencer if they know how to network correctly online and get traction on their posts. Secondly, the fourth industrial revolution empowers all of us to have technology available at our fingertips, allowing us to shine a spotlight on anything in our vicinity and broadcast it worldwide. That spotlight can be significan­tly more potent than being restricted to only one location. Suppose one learnt to capitalise on the spotlight even though they did not initially create the spotlight themselves. An example could be, you meet a business associate at a large party. The party is not yours, but you still benefit tremendous­ly from being at the party.

Let’s expand the example regarding a football player from a different country who seems to have gained a tremendous following online. As a result, they get invited to training sessions with much stronger players. He films the activity and posts it online. In the evening, he joins the other players for dinner. Again, he films the evening and gets the other stronger players to engage in the content, giving insight and commentary.

Furthermor­e, the content is uploaded socially. The player who is not as strong on the field has three gorgeous camera ladies who follow the proceeding­s all day. They are the ones to do the filming, create a bit of the vibe and are happy to drive the player home when he has had too much to drink for the night. The other players realise he is on to something, and they enquire about sourcing stunning camera ladies who can perform a similar task on a full-time basis for them as well. Within less than a year, the not as strong player has created a social media agency which rents out production staff, female chauffeurs and social media services to the stronger players. This is just a quick example of how one can boost the earning potential of the original interactio­n with

However, if we understand that the player is a brand off the field, we start to look past the player’s talent and focus on the mastery of business and personal brand growth. Consumers wanting to engage with the personal brand is where the real money lies.

the stronger players. At this point, if the content is well absorbed online, it can grow into having various sponsorshi­p deals attached to it. Young up and coming designers can see what the stars are wearing. With the skills to design similar items ready to go, the original post can facilitate tagging with similar items, allowing the followers to click and shop. Items can be shipped to them within a few days of being worn by the original stars.

And all this business traction started because someone received an invitation to the inner circle where top tier players would be in the vicinity. Yes, of course, it is simpler to be a strong player, get paid to play, get sponsorshi­p deals and have the option to open your fashion and perfume brands. So, what are the non-top tier players supposed to accept. A lower-earning potential? For most who rely purely on earning off their signing contract, the answer is yes. For others, becoming a brand online has the potential to broader their avenues for earning an income as long as their agreement with the club does not conflict with allowing them to do so.

Influencer­s are the future big money earners.

We are now transition­ing from the corporate brand world and into the You as a brand world. You as a brand world means that people are willing to buy from people and be influenced or entertaine­d by people, instead of only buying from big brands or consuming content from large media networks.

And one is not dependant anymore on their original craft for why they are well known. Recent examples of rap stars and DJs becoming more popular for having a following than for their music. Being popular online creates a tick tack toe effect where they receive invitation­s to collaborat­e with other music stars on albums. The other artists know the influencer’s popularity will assist their music to gain a broader audience.

What are some of the new business principles we can lean on to explain this phenomenon of influencer­s leveraging their popularity to earn large sums of money.

We are now transition­ing from the corporate brand world and into the You as a brand world. You as a brand world means that people are willing to buy from people and be influenced or entertaine­d by people, instead of only buying from big brands or consuming content from large media networks. This approach is encouragin­g as it allows anybody to create a product or service to have that product bought or watched by masses of people. There is much psychologi­cal reason for this, but the main one is that technology and tools to either create content or produce goods is significan­tly cheaper than a few years ago. The affordabil­ity of devices and tools lowers the barrier to entry. Anyone with the will and determinat­ion can put together such an offering. In the case of the football stars, while travelling to play overseas, they could get free accommodat­ion at various motels where they stay. The right app can upload the locations and photo or video content online and allow their followers to book well-recommende­d accommodat­ion. The

fundamenta­l idea here is that with the proper following, one can monetise almost any situation.

Appropriat­e art signed and delivered by your icon. Another example could be walking past a street vendor who may have just completed a painting; the football influencer could sign and auction the artwork. That’s something worth buying! By the following day, DHL is sending it overnight to the winning bidder.

Suppose Lionel Messi walked into the room and offered you an option of two pairs of shoes. One a top brand you are familiar with or secondly, his own brand-new personal Messi brand, which one would you take home? The answer is obvious. How is it possible that a person can become more significan­t than a well-known corporate brand? These days, the quality of production will be identical whether made by the football star or whether by the 100-year-old sneaker brand. That is what has changed—the reliabilit­y of the quality. The barrier to entry for making quality sneakers has dropped, so anybody who has enough money can go to the same factories where they produce the more well-known brands and have their batch made. Factories willing to service anybody willing to pay was not always the case before. With logistics apps becoming widely used, anybody can have a sophistica­ted, affordable delivery system that would have taken 50 years to get right in the past. As the price of tools becomes more affordable, it opens up the possibilit­y for someone with a distributi­on channel to tap into making products available to that distributi­on channel. We have also moved into a time where it is a better story to tell if one has a unique product or service with a backstory.

With logistics apps becoming widely used, anybody can have a sophistica­ted, affordable delivery system that would have taken 50 years to get right in the past. As the price of tools becomes more affordable, it opens up the possibilit­y for someone with a distributi­on channel to tap into making products available to that distributi­on channel.

The ability to self-publish is also a game-changer for anybody looking to cash in on any industry. In the past, only the top players would be privy to the press conference after the game. Only the captain or person of the match would get airtime with the TV presenter. Now anyone can share their views in a post-match channel of their choice. Knowing, or not knowing, the right people no longer restrict us to whether we enjoy airtime or not. Self-publishing gives power to those who see the value in extending the game participat­ion past the final whistle. In the past, we would need to film the content, edit it, and get a tv network to make it available for others to watch. That was a very restrictiv­e system that benefitted the few. Self-publishing extends to video as well as written content. Some social media pages get millions of followers.

Once we understand the rules of engagement have changed, we can transform our earning potential whether we are football players or just somehow connected to the business of football.

It would be wise to clarify that one will never make more money than the best players. But finding exciting ways to monetise the industry is always a fascinatin­g conversati­on.

Kind regards Adi Kaimowitz

C +27 83 570 2272 W virtualact­uary.com E adi@virtualact­uary.com

“I am not a perfection­ist, but I like to feel that things are done well. More important than that, I feel an endless need to learn, to improve, to evolve, not only to please the coach and the fans but also to feel satisfied with myself. It is my conviction that here are no limits to learning, and that it can never stop, no matter what our age.” —Cristiano Ronaldo

Photo by Jhan Castillón on Unsplash

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Photo by Ben Weber on Unsplash
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Photo by Charles Etoroma on Unsplash
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Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash
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