Asian football leagues must learn to transform themselves into
business entities and market themselves and their clubs in the way
That's the message from Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
president Mohammed bin Hammam, who believes sponsors are out there
with buckets of money but want to see a successful business model
that can be mutually beneficial.
"We need to commercialize the football business in some of the
countries ... including India, China, and Iran among others," he
"We need to see that the clubs are transformed into business
entities and that we create leagues that take care of the
collective financial interest and commercial interest of the clubs
in each country.
"Asian leagues need to leave the football administration to the
football associations, and focus on the commercialization of the
national leagues through the respective league bodies that work
under the football association's states.
"It is only with this level of focus that success commercially
will be achieved."
Along with FIFA president Sepp Blatter, bin Hammam will be the
key guest at the annual Soccerex conference in Dubai this weekend,
where the game's movers and shakers meet to discuss issues like
sponsorship strategies and new revenue streams.
In Europe, clubs like Real Madrid and Manchester United have
been transformed into successful businesses that turn multi-million
dollar profits annually, cashing in on lucrative TV rights,
merchandising and ticket sales.
Even smaller clubs have learned that, to stay afloat, a top
notch business manager is as crucial to their survival as a top
Similar successes can be achieved in Asia if the right mentality
is there, said bin Hammam, who has the tough task of stamping
regional football on the global map.
"The money is there, the sponsors are there," he said. "But
historically the sponsorships have been treated like donations, and
not business partnerships. This mindset needs to change.
"The clubs are running after sponsors to give them money, the
leagues are running after money. But it is only through developing
business relationships that are mutually beneficial that we will
see more revenue coming into the clubs.
"Of course we believe that football can provide the right
platform for sponsors to talk directly to their consumers. This is
proven. But there has to be mutual interest."
It is only with sponsors on board that Asian leagues, many of
which are struggling, can grow and attract the type of player
people want to watch, said the football supremo.
He points to the AFC, which has doubled the number of countries
Asian football is broadcast to in recent years, as an example to
"We have extensive commercial and communications programs to
improve our image and at AFC we lead from the front by setting the
example of having a commercial professional platform," he said.
"We are going to create a platform for talented players in Asia
and around the world to work in Asia as professional players. And
this needn't be a long-term objective."
(China Daily November 24, 2006)