|Mark Donnelly- Group CFO, The Football Association|
|Profile of the week|
Monday, 13 February 2012 16:12
Would you change anything at The FA if you could?
I think every organisation has probably got things it can change. From my point of view internally, I’m still relatively new here so there are areas that we’re trying to look to see how we can continually improve and develop things. We’re certainly not standing still. There’s a lot to do internally. We’re obviously in the middle of a fairly well-documented process around the structure of the F.A. and governance and I think we’ve already made some significant strides in recent months, particularly with the appointment of independent non-executive directors to the board. I think there will be more around the structure of the F.A. and how/what is the right structure going forward.
Within the overall strategy there are some key definitive areas that we’ve worked on four year cycles. It’s around getting more people involved in football and really making football accessible as we can to the community, whether that’s coming from coaching or number of facilities. That’s a really important part of extending football’s reach. We’re always going to get judge on the success of the national team so we want to provide every opportunity for the national team to be as successful as we can. There’s a real focus around major tournaments.
I think a part of that is Wembley and St Georges Park and making sure that we not only provide fantastic facilities for the teams, but also for fans and people involved in the sport. We want to give the best opportunities we can for those teams to be successful.
I think then the third area is really our role as a governing body and making sure we run the game in the best way. We work with all of the many different stakeholders across the game both professionally, grass roots and internationally to make sure we keep developing English football in the right way.
Your job title says "Group CFO" which suggests that you have responsibility for The FA, Wembley Stadium, St George's Park amongst other things. These are very different businesses. What challenges do they bring?
It helps makes it very varied. There are a lot of different issues in all of the different areas of the business. Wembley is obviously a dynamic business. It’s an event business. We’re trying to host the best events we can here, whether its football matches, music or other sports. We got some long standing relationships with other major sporting bodies such as the Football League, the RFL and the NFL have committed to five years at Wembley. Obviously, the Wembley business is all about getting people, getting content, looking after our customers and trying to commercialise that business. Ultimately, Wembley is a long-term asset for the F.A. to help fund future years.
St Georges Park, it’s a huge project for us. We’re in middle of the construction phase at the moment and the business will open in the summer of this year. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s a fantastic opportunity for us to really provide a home for developing coaching, working on establishing best practice with young players and extending that through to everyone who plays every Saturday and Sunday on the local council pitch. St Georges Park is a massive opportunity to get it right. We think it can really help the international teams and provide the framework for future development.
With the F.A as a whole, we’ve got some challenges around the commercial nature of the business. We’re always trying to grow our revenue and trying to maximise the opportunities to then do more activity around the investment back into football.
No. I think obviously we’ve got to see how the four year cycle will play out, but we’re pretty satisfied with the deal we did with UEFA. We’ve agreed a new deal with ITV through to 2012 and were in the process of selling our international rights through to 2018 at the moment. I think that process is going well and we’re very pleased with where we’re getting to. We’re going to see an increase in revenue generated from those, so long-term it was an important deal to do. It’s important that we work with UEFA. We’re pretty confident we can protect and grow our revenues. I think we’re in a difficult domestic market at the moment, but it leaves us with a lot of opportunities.
Well, I still think personally and probably from the company view is that the F.A. Cup is still a fantastic competition. We only got to look at the ties that we’ve had this year and the way that the teams have approached it this year. I think pretty much without exception all the teams have played their first choice team throughout the competition. The F.A. Cup has so much history and holds such a strong place with football fans. The competition as well is so important for top football. Over the last ten years, the F.A. Cup has generated £650m for the teams that have played in it and about £250m of that has been in prize money and broadcast fee. It makes a significant impact to the clubs that play, from the grass roots teams up. If a non-league team has a good cup run then the F.A. Cup will pretty much double their revenue for the year. So, I think the F.A. Cup has a huge part to play. It’s still really important and will remain so. We’re really proud of it and will continue to support and invest in it.