Thursday, 10 July 2008

Real's most valuable asset

Often, when looking at a club's assets, one tends to concentrate on the players, the ground, sometimes on the manager and technical staff. Rarely do we look closely at those people who actually run the club. And in Real's case that is not president Ramón Calderón.

Four years ago, when Florentino Pérez was still president of Real Madrid and pursuing his galáctico policy, the club's then director of marketing, José Ángel Sánchez, realised that he could get a 20-fold return on his investment by signing David Beckham from Manchester United. It has been this man's vision that has put Real Madrid top of the Forbes list of football clubs by annual revenue. Calderón has not only kept Sánchez in charge of marketing and branding at the club, he has given him additional responsibilities and the catch-all title of general executive director. Everyone reports to him, from marketing to finance, even the technical area when it comes to player transfers and contracts.

Real Madrid may be about to lose this man.

Valencia's major shareholder, Juan Soler, today agreed to hand over the running of the club to Juan Villalonga, former chairman of Telefónica, Spain's main telecom operator. This is seen as Soler's last chance to halt the financial decline his club has seen over the past few years. Villalonga knows Sánchez from his time at Telefónica, but what must really have impressed him is his work at building the Real Madrid brand over the last few years and now it looks like he has convinced him to repeat the performance at Valencia (as of yesterday evening, Real Madrid were refusing to make a statement on the matter).

In a recent lecture on marketing in football, Sánchez argued that turning a football club into a brand is no different from any other product: the marketing plan needs to recognise the brand's values, its differentiating factors, and it must know its target audience to understand the potential demand. Sponsorship deals must evolve from simple advertising to a partnership between both parties. All these strategies serve to turn the club into a growing brand with significant financial returns over and above sporting success.

Losing Sánchez at this point may cost Real Madrid far more in the long term than the sale or purchase of any player, irrespective of their value in the marketplace.

1 comment:

Borris @ said...

very very interesting news, certainly a insider's news, have not heard of this one before, perhaps it goes beyond a typical real madrid fan who is only concerned about the clubs on field success, anyway, I am so sad to hear this because i want real madrid to be ahead of every other club for the rest of of my life atleast.