|Tom Glick- President & CEO, Derby County Football Club|
|Profile of the week|
Friday, 13 January 2012 10:29
You certainly find in every one of the North American sports that there is some form of downward pressure on wages that is collectively bargained between the clubs and the players. They agree to a wage structure that generally is a percentage of turnover. I think in the US, it’s also to maintain some competitive balance and not let the larger clubs dominate every year.
The fundamental difference here is that the idea of competitive balance isn’t so much a major theme, but I do think that sound financial governance and keeping clubs from going out of business certainly does resonate. The problem is too many clubs are losing money and that’s the part that we’re seeking to fix. It’s about how you get that financial sustainability to marry up with the ladder of English football. We’ve been talking about it quite a bit within the football league right now with the financial fair play initiatives and we’re very close to having a new set of rules which will enable clubs to run themselves in a more financially sustainable way, whilst preserving the great competition that we have.
Well, we’re not there yet, but we’re working towards it. Ultimately, you have two choices; you can raise revenue or cut expenses. It’s very easy to spend a lot of money on players’ wages. The key thing is to get the right mix of players and to be great at buying, selling and developing. Youth development is important.
The aim is to be able to able to perform at the top end of the division on wages that you’re business can afford on its own. It’s been a process of growing revenues and becoming more proficient on football operations. That part has been the most difficult because it’s easy to make expensive mistakes and results dominate what people are thinking at any given time. We’ve certainly had some moments of truths where we’ve had to hold our nerves and say “hang on, I know result haven’t been going well, but we’re on a path here and we need to stay committed to that path.”
I’d be surprised if we weren’t back in the Premier League within five years. How many years it takes remains to be seen simply because there’s no easy formula to unlock promotion. If it was as simple as throwing money at it, that would be at a strategy. Many clubs have shown that with a disciplined and moderate investment in player wages, you stand a very good chance of getting promoted. So whether it’s this, next or takes three or four years, we certainly do expect to get promoted. It the meantime, we expect to be consistently competing in the top end of the Championship and keeping our fans excited, engaged and enjoying their football club.
There are certainly examples of clubs who are competing reasonably well in the Premier League. Stoke City have not just survived but thrived very much on wages in the middle of the pack and are back in the top ten right now. Fulham would be another example of a club on more moderate wages who has been able to compete. We look at all those examples and say “when we go up, because we have continuity of people and processes, because we have a really good handle on our football and business operation, we will be in a position to make the right decisions to enable us to maintain our position in the Premier League.”
I would expect our legacy to be one of an ownership group that has engaged with its support, its community and its city. One that has expanded the fan base, re-engaged lapsed fans, made a more exciting match-day and while doing that, has a culture of ‘winning’ running throughout the football club. We want to be a club that has won its way out of the Championship and is holding down a position somewhere safely in the Premiership. How high that is depends on a lot of other factors that perhaps would be out of our control. We would hope that our legacy would include all of those things and would have provided an even better football experience for Derby County supporters because of that.