By Alex Iwuoha
Peter Drucker, the Australian-born American management consultant once said, “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” Call it transformation, alteration, innovation or whatever you like, you have to develop new methods, ideas, or product if you want to remain on the cutting edge.
The City brand
After many years of decline, culminating in relegation to the third tier of English football in 1998, Manchester City is now transformed into one of football’s most innovative business models.
City Football Group (CFG), owners of Manchester City Football Club, set up the Abu Dhabi investment fund and paid £200 million in 2008 for the purchase of the club. Thereafter, they bought three other clubs in different parts of the world, making CFG the first global chain in world football. The sister clubs are the New York City F.C., established in the United States Major League Soccer (MLS) with players such as Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo in its squad. Also, the company has Melbourne City F.C., an Australian A-League club bought in 2004, and Yokohama F. Marinos, a Japanese J-League club acquired in 2014.
Innovation is all about looking for new ways of doing old things.
Another innovative person in English football is Arsene Wenger. Wenger revolutionised the English game. We had never and may not ever see the like of the Arsenal boss again.
Technical, Passing, Possession
Technical, passing, possession football is now the norm for teams who want to be regarded as world contenders, but it was not so when Wenger arrived twenty years ago in English football. It was his blueprint that made it so.
On arrival in 1996, the philosophy of Arsenal players like most English clubs was team-building through pub crawling. Before then, diet and fitness were still seen as relatively inconsequential compared to team spirit usually fostered by mammoth boozing sessions, and feasting on pub food after every training session or match.
Wenger came in, banned Mars bars and beers, gave his players vitamins supplements, and watched the victories and trophies roll in. Thereafter, every club in England and Europe copied his philosophy. Today, no leading manager works without a battery of dieticians, sports scientists, and analysts at his disposal.
Foreign and local youths
Wenger started the idea that young overseas players could come to England in their formative years and thrive. Nicolas Anelka, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Robin van Persie, and Cesc Fàbregas came, saw and conquered. Today, every manager have scouts all over the world who are searching for new talents.
Successful foreign manager
Pre-Wenger, there was scepticism that foreign managers would be able to understand English football let alone foreign youngsters who were brought up by passing the ball rather than running up and down pebbles at Brighton Beach to aid fitness.
Every top British Club has a huge foreign financial injection. Arsenal is the only self-made members of that ‘Big Six.’ Without Wenger, it is entirely probable, let alone possible, that the Gunners would not be the force they are today even with their great tradition.
In the four Premier League seasons before Wenger arrived, Arsenal finished tenth, fourth, twelfth and fifth. These positions are unthinkable today. For the last three of those years, they lagged behind Newcastle United, but since then, they’ve not been outside of the top four.
If Wenger is a failure for always finishing inside the top four, that’s nowhere near as big a failure as other so-called big clubs. Everton hasn’t won a trophy since 1995, Liverpool hasn’t won a title since 1990 and Tottenham since the early 1960s.
Every other club including Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City – have spent time outside the Champions League. Arsenal hasn’t under Wenger.
Whatever happens next, if Wenger never wins another game of football in his life, his legendary status is assured.
This is nothing but pure innovation.
Manchester City is the first football club in the world to introduce a global chain of clubs. That is what you call innovation.
Innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any organisation. The Bible described it as “being transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Ferran Soriano, CEO of Manchester City said “With this structure, we’re doing something that has never been done before. That means you have to take risks, innovate, and not be afraid to try new things. There is no limit to what we can achieve.”
This carefully coordinated approach is apparently reaping rewards. CFG claims it now reaches over four hundred million fans globally across its four clubs and is attracting an expanding roster of sponsors who are drawn to the prospect of activating campaigns at both a global and a local level.
“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
Mark 2:21-22 (ESV)