The twelves steps to a successful football club takeover.
1: Realism – What does success look like on the resources you can provide?
So many takeovers fail because there is such a mismatch between what the new owners think they can achieve (trophies, success) and the resources they can provide. Success in football is very highly correlated with resources and in some leagues you need a lot of resources to even stay in the division. You also need to consider the club you are buying, you need to take the supporters along with you on this journey.
2: Vision – Where you want the club to be in 5-10 years.
There has to be something you are building towards. It may be to reach the top division and stay there. It may be to have 30% of your minutes played by academy graduates. Pick a vision of success (realistic on your budget) and sell that vision to the staff at the club and the supporters of the team.
3. Strategy – The steps that need to be taken to fulfill the vision.
The vision is the destination. The strategy is how we get there. Make a plan.
4: Evaluate – Do you know what excellent, good, or bad looks like?
Before you can make changes you need to know what you do well and what you do badly as a club. You need to gather data, analyse decisions and examine the processes already in place.
5: Culture -build a positive culture where people want to stay long term.
Football is full of short-termism. Head coaches last 18 months on average, every coach wants to bring in their key staff. You need to build a club staff, pay them well, and trust them to deliver the vision. Rather than bringing in externally recruited key staff develop your own.
6: Expertise – Find the experts in their fields and give them a place to thrive.
Once you have the vision, the strategy, and the culture, you need to find and develop the best talent in all fields. Find people who want to get better, support their development, and allow them to build up the club’s institutional knowledge.
7: Clarity – clear responsibilities for each department.
There needs to be clear responsibilities for outcomes within each department. They need to know what they do and why they do it.
8: Innovation – supported by the scientific method.
You don’t beat better financed opponents by doing the same as them. You need to give staff the freedom to innovate. This should be supported by recording, observing, and analysing what has been tried.
9: Knowledge Base – build it, use it, add to it everyday.
Without recording information it will walk out of the building in the heads of staff as they leave. If you don’t build up the institutional knowledge as an asset owned by the club then you won’t progress. Every new entrant should be able to start with a bank of knowledge produced by their predecessors and add to it.
10. Measurement – know how to measure process separately to outcome.
You need to know that football can be very cruel. There can be long periods of just bad luck. You need to make sure you have methods in place where you can assess the work that is being done, identify the areas to improve, and trust that in the long run things will turn around.
11. Communicate – don’t lose sight of the strategy, regularly review progress.
Football is almost uniquely time pressured. You have fixtures that must be fulfilled, there can be no delays whilst you perfect your offerings. It is important to regularly talk, check progress against the strategy, and see where extra support can be given. If there are failings go back into the strategy, look for where the plan can be improved.
12. Give it time – change takes time. Trust the process.
Any new owner will face 3-5 years of legacy decisions on players and staff, and even longer on facilities. Once you have got your people in place, working towards your vision, using your strategy you can begin to judge the success.