Sport goes global

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 11 October 2011



Chadwick, S. (2011), "Sport goes global", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 1 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Sport goes global

Sport goes global

Article Type: A note from the Editor From: Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal, Volume 1, Issue 3.

The 2011 UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley was a major spectacle, not just in terms of the on-field performances of the teams involved, but also in terms of the magnitude of the Final's international reach. The match, between FC Barcelona of Spain and Manchester United of England, was commercially and managerially compelling, highlighting the nature of elite level sport in the twenty-first century, illustrating the range of managerial challenges facing sport today, and clearly marking-out sport as an industry that is both shaping and being shaped by the international business environment.

Consider some of the features of the Final and the teams contesting it.

FC Barcelona and Manchester United both routinely appear in international league tables that indicate the scale of their commercial performance, and the strength of their popularity. In Forbes magazine's 2010 list of the world's most valuable sports brands, Manchester United appears at Number 1 (worth €182 million), while FC Barcelona appears at Number 8 (worth €115 million). In the Deloitte 2011 Football Money League, FC Barcelona appears at Number 2, with identified revenues of €398.1 million, with Manchester United at Number 3 with revenues of €349.8 million. Alongside such performance figures, Sport und Markt has identified that FC Barcelona is the most popular football club in Europe, with 57.8 million fans, with Manchester United the third most popular club with 30.6 million fans. Other such data shows that even in the social media environment, both clubs have a huge and significant following. For instance, amongst figures reported by Sporting Intelligence, it appears that Manchester United has more Facebook followers than any other football club in the world (more than 9 million “fans”). FC Barcelona closely follows, as the club with the second largest global Facebook following.

Alongside the popularity of the Final and the clubs involved, Futures Sports and Entertainment recently revealed that the 2009 Final between Manchester United and FC Barcelona drew an average television audience of 109 million, compared to an average Superbowl audience of 106 million. Throughout the 2009 UCL Final, 206 million people are thought to have watched some part of the game, whereas for the Superbowl the same measure indicated that only 162 million people watched some part of the contest between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals. These figures underpin the strong and growing stature of the UCL, especially as the Superbowl is normally televised at the weekend and the UCL Final has been staged during the week. Added to this, one should also consider that television viewing figures for the UCL reveal a trend towards larger television audiences. For example, in 2007 the average audience for the Athens Final was 72 million; and for the 2008 Final in Moscow, 98 million.

Within the global nature of these observations, there are also some interesting regional aspects to the Final. For instance, there was considerable Latin American interest in the UCL Final this year between FC Barcelona and Manchester United, with a total of 12 players from the region being members of the combined official squads of the two competing finalists. Further strengthening Latin American interest in the Final, figures indicate that as many as 40 per cent of the population in South America may have Spanish heritage (with figures of 88 and 85 per cent being recorded for Uruguay and Argentina alone). Moreover, following migration during the Spanish civil war, there is a large and significant diaspora of football fans with an affiliation to FC Barcelona. Indeed, while the market for sport/football may not be as well developed in Latin America as it is in Europe, the levels of interest in football throughout the region remain very high. Moreover, there is increasing evidence of a growth in the sophistication of the Latin American market for sport. As indicators of these observations, the reader should consider, for example, that revenues from the sales of Copa Libetadores television rights have increased by more than 350 per cent in recent years; while in Brazil, 140 million people have identified themselves as being supporters of a football club.

Whether as an industry, as international businesses, or as global brands, it is clear from the short profile above that sport is truly international, and indeed global. This creates some unique opportunities for the managers of sport, while simultaneously defining a series of distinctive challenges. It is within this context that Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal, presents its special edition on international sport. In raising the issues it does, the hope is that further insight into the international nature of sport management can be highlighted, resulting in the further development of knowledge of an emerging and complex phenomenon.

I would like to express my thanks to Professors Harald Dolles and Sten Soderman for guest editing this edition of the journal, especially for the way in which they have brought together such a high quality body of work. I would also like to thank the European Academy of Management for working with us to identify relevant papers submitted to their newly-formed Special Interest Group “Sport as a Business”.

Simon Chadwick

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