I just might be one of the lucky ones who has seen majority of the corners of football industry in Finland. I have been on the field as a professional player and given my best to the Finnish National Team. I have worked as a scout in Scandinavia, represented and helped several Finnish national team players in their careers as an agent. I have done my short duty as a Sports Director and CEO for Club Football. I have served the Finnish FA as a member of the top football committee and been both men’s and women’s top league teams’ trainer in Finnish top leagues. But clearly, majority is not even close of seeing it all.
One of the blind spots has been sponsoring. It is a whole different story and a whole different game. And I thought I understood it. But it seems that I only understood a small part of it. The short-term money part. As a club or association director you worry about the current and next season and at its best the season after that. You worry about the athletes, the trainers, the staff and the hard-working employees, the money and of course, the success and publicity. But you don’t seem to have energy or time to worry and take care of your sponsors and partners, who are one of the corner stones of your business and make things possible. Maybe if you would have more resources? Maybe then?
Yes. More resources with specific understanding of brand alliances and sponsoring needs would be a great help and probably solve a lot. Sponsors are demanding more and more these days. And they are absolutely entitled to do so. Because the game of sponsoring has changed a lot. There are much more contenders in the competition to crave what they want and deserve.
And the competition is fierce. For companies who are willing to sponsor and partner this means more possibilities to choose where they want their message and voice be seen and heard. The old way of doing, which is called Support your local Club, is still valid in some cases. But in the future, the old way might be totally gone.
The reason for that is simple. Businesses have gone global and digital long time ago. Or they should have gone. Global corporations are ruling the market and unfortunately the decision making has moved far from local decision makers. Specially here in Finland. So as a business, you need to think again. How to make your brand, whether it’s a person, a club, an association, a travel destination or even a culture center, interesting enough for global brands to invest in you and give you the tools to stay interesting and competitive in the ever-crowing battle of …well…competition?
To be honest. I’m not that sure. But one thing is for sure. As a decision maker you should demand more from your own organization. You should invest and trust in people who understand the possibilities and the power of sponsoring and have the vision and the will to change things if needed. Invest in people and partners who understand the possibilities and importance of your sponsor deals and the continuity of those. Invest in your existing values, build a sustainability program, act on it and dare to build sponsoring programs and business possibilities around these core values. Because these values are the core of you. The core of your business. They determine your existence. Your current and future sponsors and partners will be far more interested to invest in you when your values meet theirs.
I would be quick with this. Your mutual voice reaches the crowds and travels further and deeper than it ever could do alone. Because the language you speak means world to your fans. Our world is filled with excessive flood of information and only the ones with true and honest meaning matter and go through.
So. Perfect and long-lasting Match might just exist. Are you ready to work for it?
– Juha Reini, COO | Business Development and Sales