Management > Money
It was getting towards the end of my tenure in France now and my team was sitting at the top of the rankings in north France with a 6-2 regular season record. We weren’t the most talented team but we played hard to achieve an appearance in the half-final at our home field. Needless to say, the team was poised for a shot at being the best in France. So you can imagine how deflated the team was when we found out that we had to forfeit all but one win because of a mistake made by the management of the club. We were informed that the transfer paperwork of one of the players on the team had been turned in late, so every game he played in we had to forfeit. It was convenient that the French Federation sat on this information and let that player play the majority of the season before informing the club of the problem, but if I start writing about the problems and dysfunction of the French Federation from that season, this blog entry would turn into a dissertation really fast. So let's stick to the topic of club management.
I want to be clear that my motivation of this blog entry is not to embarrass or belittle the management of my former club in any way. I fully believe that is was a mistake, and I am very grateful for the opportunity my former club gave to me. It just happens that the mistake that was made, cost a team a shot at a championship. My motive is to tell my story and try to give my general reflexion of the beginning of my career now as a Veteran of American Football in Europe; and unfortunately, this event is part of my story. It is example of a more general issue that I think almost all clubs can relate to, how important management is. In my example, lack of execution of a simple task from the management caused a team to go from the half-final to playing in a relegation game overnight.
I often hear that money is everything in American Football in Europe, mainly because I play for one of the most wealthy clubs, but I disagree with this statement. Obviously money is extremely important and give the clubs the ability to improve coaching, player talent, facilities, equipment, and so on and so forth. I really understand that. But I will also point out that a club with money that is poorly manage, will not only not be sustainable, but will never live up to their potential because of inefficient spending or just performing bad business, such as late payments or not fulfilling obligations, like proper paperwork. I have seen clubs have all the resources to be successful but fall short because of lack of planning and direction.
However, I do not believe that it is common for clubs to have money with poor management. It most certainly happens but I think more often than not, a team's budget or sponsors reflect their management. Companies and people are generally interested in good products. The product of an American Football Club is what you put on the field and the environment you create on gameday. It is an entertainment experience for your consumer. So to cater to potential consumers and sponsors, a club must create the best product possible and that should be the only concern. These powerhouse clubs in Europe did not become wealthy by putting out mediocre products. These teams made good products and coupled with a entertaining viewing experience, either via live stream or actually in the stadium, makes people want to watch your product, which boosts exposure, in turn makes a club much for interesting for sponsorships.
Now I know I make it sound like a very simple process and I know that it isn’t. However, I think it is an important perspective that these clubs didn’t just stumble into money. They may have indeed been very fortunate to have come across the opportunity for a big sponsor but there were a lot of people who worked really hard to create something worth sponsoring. That is why having great leadership and management within a club is vital to sustained success.