75% of all clubs are strategically unhealthy

2 minute read

Professional football clubs are in general unhealthy. At a strategic level. Over time. This is the conclusion after a minor empirical field study, interviewing relevant network and a subjective analysis made by Optima Football.

Our analysis shows that around 75% of all clubs in the top 5 leagues aren’t working with a sustainable (model) strategy. Over a 5-year evaluation period. These clubs are using a strategic setup operating with an ‘Unhealthy Model’ where a head coach is the main person to take most of the technical and football strategic decisions. And when changing the head coach the clubs will automatically change the strategy as well. Based entirely on who is the head coach and what this person wants.

Furthermore, there often is no connection between a clubs first team and the academy. They are not aligned and do not have the same strategy, philosophy or methodology. In the worst examples; they barely communicate.

At Optima Football we operate and advice clubs through ‘The Sustainable Model’ where clubs own and control their own strategy – from the first team to the academy level. The club identity and long term strategy are developed and implemented internally and none-negotiable - no matter whom is the head coach.

As we speak we are in the the 2019-summer transfer window. One element in The Sustainable Model is the Recruitment Strategy. This part should also be controlled 100% by the club, not allowing the head coach to take charge adding his favorite players (and agents) to the club.

A head coach should obviously be part of the recruitment process, but he is never supposed to be the decision maker. Every decision must fit to the overall strategy of the club.

But this is not how estimated 75% of clubs are operating. Why?

Our analysis point out these possible reasons:

- Lack of football knowledge in the ownership / board room

- Lack of connection between the boardroom and the training ground

- The Sporting Directors & Technical Directors often don’t have top level coaching experience and the knowledge to build a club philosophy, methodology and alignment throughout the club

- Football is still considered an individual sport where a change of head coach or a few players will make the difference

- Lack of knowhow and experience on which KPI’s will create a long-term success

- Extremely few football philosophies / style of plays within the clubs controlled by the clubs

- A conservative business culture (we have been used to operating like this)

- A ‘lemming-effect’ – operating the same way everyone else is using similar methods

- A short-term business culture – afraid to think long-term. Only Sunday to Sunday

- Football is a part of the entertainment business – today’s performance is more important than tomorrow’s

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