Football Management – Davis Muthoka

Football Management is a blog maintained by Dr. John Beech an independent academic who is an Honorary Research Fellow at Coventry University where he was Head of Sport & Tourism at the Applied Research Centre in Sustainable Regeneration (SURGE). Through his work on this blog, Dr. John Beech received the Football Supporters’ Federation Writer of the Year Award for season 2009/10. With detailed data on over 200 English soccer clubs, the blog offers commentary on current as well as historic issues on management and governance of English league clubs. The blog is read in over 175 countries across the globe.

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The homepage of Football Management is easy to navigate. The first section on the homepage is the Recent Posts section. An article that caught my attention under this section is titled Opening a can of worms ?.This article covers the issue of the relationship between English clubs’ management and their local councils especially when the clubs are at the center of an issue. Given the big roles these clubs play in the economies and the unwillingness of the councils to anger fans, the author claims there is a possibility of these clubs failing to be subjected to the due legal process in settling significant issues. In this article, the author claims that the councils may have given illegal state aid to the clubs and in the process broken European Union law. He goes further to show that this is not only a problem with English clubs but could be the case with Dutch and Spanish clubs which may also be facing investigations over the same issue of getting illegal aid from local councils. This is an issue which is likely to arise everywhere there is a soccer club. A cost-benefit analysis of the situation can easily convince a council to make some exceptions to soccer clubs instead of subjecting them to legal requirements because the clubs bring in benefits that outweigh the costs of not punishing them.

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The Quick Club Searches section covers issues the managements in over 200 English clubs are dealing with. This section does not only involve the top-flight premier league clubs, it covers clubs in the lower divisions too. Some issues of contention discussed here include ticket pricing and club takeovers, issues that are bound to arise everywhere in the soccer world today. In an article titled AFC Liverpool and Liverpool FC, John Beech covers the birth of ‘AFC Liverpool’ an association established by Liverpool fans in protest over ticket pricing by the parent club Liverpool FC.This shows how soccer fans have been able to exploit different avenues to express their displeasure with the managements of their favorite clubs. He goes on to say that Liverpool FC has remained very supportive of this initiative by the club’s fans. The parent club has been positive to criticism from its fans as should be the case with any management. Another article that caught my attention as an Arsenal fan is The Great Arsenal Mystery.This article talks about the struggle between Stan Kroenke and Alisher Usmanov, the two major Arsenal shareholders. The two have been edging towards 30% shareholding that would give them control of the club. However, the board and the shareholders as represented by chairman Hills Wood would rather remain in control of the club than let any of them stage a takeover. The management however does not have much say over this because should some shareholders decide to sell to one of the two and get them over the 30% mark, the takeover would be inevitable.

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No soccer blog can be complete without news on the ongoing sporting events around the globe.The Business of events Management site covers news of what is happening in competitions around the globe as well as the aftermath of the biggest sporting events. Covering these soccer competitions, the blog seems to be focused more on the issue of their management and the politics that come with it. On the article titled ‘Brazil’s $3 Billion World Cup Stadiums Are Turning Into White Elephants 6 Months Later’, the author covers the negative economic effects of hosting the world cup. In the case of Brazil, the particular interest is that despite the country needing only 8 stadiums to host the world cup, it went on and built more than 8 stadiums at a cost of $ 3 billion. Some of the stadiums are already being closed down. It is further worsened by claims that the cost of the stadiums was 50 percent more than it ought to have been. In an attempt to calm the political temperatures arising from this costly affair, especially with protests in Brazil, FIFA has promised to give back $100 million to Brazil which is still a very small amount compared to the $3 billion the country spend on its preparations for the world cup.

Football Management does not only target the soccer fans who read for the sole purpose of enjoyment of the content, it is the ideal site for fans seeking to engage intellectually with soccer related material. It addresses current issues affecting the soccer world such as ticket pricing and management takeovers in clubs. It also doesn’t leave out the very important issue of politics and power in the very lucrative business of soccer. The material available on this blog is also applicable to management in other areas beyond soccer clubs.

Despite being an exciting blog, not everybody might fall in love with Football Management. For one, the blog does not make good use of the technology available through images and videos to make it more attractive to the modern soccer fan. However, its style might also be attractive to some people who are mainly interested in getting the important points as it maintains a simple academic look giving it the feel of a normal book. As its articles are well thought out and researched, the blog doesn’t get posts up everyday like majority of the other soccer blogs. Readers need to be patient as it takes time for the next article to come around. However, Football Management might me the most intellectually engaging soccer blog out there.

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