BLOG | BY CO-FOUNDER ALEX IACOPONI
There have been many high profile cases of football clubs in financial crisis over the years. In the UK, the plights of clubs such as Bury and Bolton Wanderers have been well documented, and even more recently Wigan Athletic and Macclesfield Town. But even among Europe’s mega clubs there have been noises of unsustainable spending – with the likes of Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan being investigated in recent times under UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations.
Football is the biggest sport in the world. Research estimates that football produces about 40% of global sports revenues. About a quarter of global football club revenues are produced by the 30 biggest clubs in Europe alone.
The gap between the big and the small clubs is increasing and the smaller clubs are often dependent on nurturing and selling talent to bigger clubs to survive.
But all professional clubs, regardless of size, have a huge social impact on their communities as well as economically.
For this reason, we want our product to help all clubs equally. We didn’t want to develop something that only the rich could afford, we believe in equal access for clubs regardless of their size or stature. That is only possible in partnership with Leagues.
I co-founded ClubView back in 2019 as there was an opportunity to build a great product and at the same time offer a finance solution to football clubs and leagues whilst contributing to their self preservation, heritage and community.
With full data across a League, Artificial Intelligence and data can then be used to predict revenues and costs for football clubs, allowing better benchmarking, forecasting, and preventing business-critical financial holes appearing in their numbers.
Our dashboard and insights will enable leagues to have early visibility before financial milestones such as submission of end of year accounts and review, and identify and understand any looming revenue gaps or surpluses, allowing for informed, clear and sustainable financial decisions to be made.
We wanted to add something tangible to a club’s and leagues financial abilities, which would have a meaningful impact.
So why are we launching in the UK?
Football, in its organised form, was born in England during the Industrial Revolution.
One of the founders of the EFL is immortalised in a statue outside Villa Park, the home of Aston Villa. His name was William McGregor and his vision of professional football is still very much alive today. We want that to continue well into the future.
At the peak of the Industrial Revolution, football clubs started to share ticket revenues and work together in a mutually beneficial way. This was at a time when, as Burnley’s official historian Ray Simpson said, “very much a cloth cap man’s game. Almost everyone worked in the mills.”
PSV Eindhoven, Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham were funded by factories for their employees. Several of England’s leading clubs, including Everton, Manchester City and Southampton were founded by churches, as was Celtic in Scotland.
The church and industrialists supported charities, sports clubs, rituals, or liturgical practices for local workers and communities in a deeply class divided society.
But today, football is big business and for clubs to survive they can’t keep spending beyond their means.
UEFA introduced FFP (Financial Fair Play) for all the clubs that qualify for its competitions to prevent clubs “financial doping” as quoted by their former president Michel Platini, whilst similar regulations are in place within the EFL, and the recent introduction of the salary cap in League 1 and 2 cements that.
As well as our core top line financial reporting dashboard, ClubView has developed a bespoke technology which uses football club specific data science with the objective of leveling the playing field to provide an equal opportunity to make sensible financial decisions for all of those who are involved in running clubs in the football community.
Using the latest innovations in statistical analysis and artificial intelligence to enhance how we present football finance data, giving Football Clubs the most accurate predictions and forecasts possible, providing a stable platform for financial forecasts to be made, while we also aim to involve the football community to shape the product so we can make the difference with our insights.
We value transparency with our predictions and algorithms. We back up everything we do with thorough research. Whether this is through research publications made by academic institutes or personal research by our team, we aim to be clear and concise with how we have achieved each result so we can support the decision making process
Decision making is a very complex process as analysed by the Nobel prize psychologist and behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow.
The book analyses two modes of thoughts “System 1” and “System 2”. The first one is fast, instinctive and emotional and extremely lazy in certain cases because our brains are profoundly energy-efficient but are at the core of human intelligence and intuition. The second one is slower, more deliberative, data and facts driven and works more on logic.
“System 2” can be supported by data science because it is much easier to program than the more complex human intuition that played a crucial role in human evolution.
We believe data science and artificial intelligence could have the same impact in our society as the steam engine and electricity had for the Industrial Revolution.
Every day, football club CEOs and Boards make financial decisions. Some are good, some are bad, and the good ones learn from their mistakes. Consistent reporting, benchmarking, AI and machine learning could support the global football community to make better decisions, taking into consideration a very large amount of data that one individual mind can’t possibly process and could do this at the speed of light, just like the human eye with a view. Hence our logo.
In the end the one thing humans have over machines is the ability to build trust and meaning, and our technology is designed to enhance human capabilities to make better decisions to nurture and protect community assets such as football clubs.
We look forward to the journey.
Co-Founder & Business Development Director