ECA News

The first session of the second edition of the ECA Club Management Programme (CMP) took place this week in Turin, on 6th to 8th November. 43 participants from 40 ECA Member Clubs partook in the session dedicated to Leadership & Strategy, at the home of Juventus.

The new cohort of CMP participants features administrators from 27 different countries, from clubs such as Manchester United FC, Celtic FC, AS Roma and AFC Ajax, to name a few, including three participants from new members as of this new ECA Membership Cycle. For the first time, ECA reserves spots for non-European clubs, from Africa and South America, bringing experiences from other continents to the programme. The first of eight sessions was split into three days, an introductory session on the first day with the following days focusing on specific areas of Leadership & Strategy: Vision & Leadership and Strategic Management.

Introductory Session

The second edition kicked off as ECA Chairman Andrea Agnelli welcomed participants to the Allianz Stadium a week following the 120th birthday of the record Italian champions. As he welcomed participants to the programme, ECA General Secretary Michele Centenaro illustrated the importance of knowledge sharing amongst ECA Member Clubs and provided a brief background of the CMP to date.

In the spirit of cooperation, Ian Richardson provided words on behalf of ECA's academic partner, Stockholm Business School, with whom ECA has proudly renewed a partnership agreement for the duration of the second edition of the programme. ECA Partner in club expertise, LTT Sports, and CMP first edition participant Ilaria Quattrocicche, HR Director of FC Internazionale Milano, outlined an overview of things to come for the CMP second edition cohort. Finally, ECA Vice-Chairman and CEO of HJK Helsinki, Aki Riihilahti, CMP first edition participant, also spoke on how he has applied key learnings from the CMP into practice.

Vision & Leadership

In order to provide academic insight and an overview of leadership as a concept, Professor Keith Grint, Warwick University, began proceedings as he spoke on the 'Science of Leadership'. He discussed the development of leadership as a discipline over time, the functions of a leader in the modern environment, and presented examples of leadership-related challenges and solutions.

Sharing his valued knowledge and array of experience in football, ECA Board Member and ECA representative on the UEFA Executive Committee, Ivan Gazidis gave his take on leadership and its role within the industry. The CEO of Arsenal FC reflected on his experiences with leading prominent football organisations on both sides of the Atlantic, with specific reference to his current tenure at the London club. 

Representatives of host club, Juventus, including ECA Chairman and Chairman of the club Andrea Agnelli, provided a unique overview of how three levels of leadership function within the club: beginning with the top level of the ownership, then moving to the top executive level and finishing with the specialist operational one, discussing the scope and responsibilities of each role. Sergio Spinelli, Head of HR, drew on key findings from the ECA Club Management Guide, the publication the CMP is based upon, to create operational synergy across the club.  

To further help participants understand the unique role of leadership within different levels of a football club's organisational structure, Martijn van Rensch, Deloitte Netherlands Football Group, highlighted the core responsibilities, tasks and functions across each role. Participants were also treated to a Q&A session with former CEO of Liverpool FC Ian Ayre, in which he outlined the distinct aspects of leadership within the football club industry due to the ever-changing environment in which the sport operates.

Strategic Management

In order to distinguish the important role of strategic management from that of leadership, Ian Richardson, Stockholm Business School, outlined how vision and strategy are separate concepts, each with their own challenges.

Providing some practical insight, ECA CMP Scientific Panel Member and Former Chairman of FC Basel 1893 Bernhard Heusler, presented a case study on his time with the Swiss club, demonstrating the importance of long-term strategic management in achieving stability at a club. This was appropriately followed by Miguel Moreira, CFO of SL Benfica, who offered insight into the executive management of the Portuguese champions and what influence this has had on the continued success the club has achieved at domestic level over the course of several years.  

The three-day session was completed with practical group sessions as participants discussed all they had learnt over the duration of the session and how these concepts could be put into practice at their respective clubs.

By attending the session, participants increased their understanding of the role of Leadership & Strategy within a football club, and were provided with a range of tools to reflect on their own club's leadership and how it can be developed further.

Commenting on the CMP, ECA Chairman Andrea Agnelli stated:

     "The ECA Club Management Programme is an innovative and unique course that allows ECA Member Clubs to learn from one another's knowledge and experiences. I believe that this programme will greatly benefit all participants as they seek to solve specific challenges related to club management, at both big and smaller clubs."

Regarding the first session, he added:

     "I was pleased, on a personal level, to welcome CMP participants to the Allianz Stadium for the first session of the programme. The content and speakers were of the highest calibre and I?m certain participants will continue to gain valuable insight from top executives and academics in industry over the course of the next year and a half."

The next session of CMP will focus on Sports Activities, and will be held in Bilbao, in collaboration with Athletic Club, on 9th and 10th January 2018. For more information on the ECA Club Management Programme, visit its dedicated website: