5 INSIGHTS is a category of the FBIN Magazine. In the latest issue, Gianluca Santaniello, Business Area Director of Venezia FC answered the five questions.
Is it important as a football club to transform (more) into a media/content company or a lifestyle brand? How do you look at that based on your club’s perspective?
Gianluca Santaniello: As football is becoming more important in people’s daily lives, it is normal that we have to reflect the context in which we live. Our path leads us to be a mix of all this, both media and lifestyle brand, never forgetting that “football” is the core business and the main pillar of all our activities, on and off the field.
Can you describe the process of implementing new non-sports projects at your club? Are you asking your fans for input, do you look at other clubs or industries for inspiration, do you work with market research?
Our Business Intelligence and Operations unit helps executives, managers and workers collaborate to make informed business decisions by allowing them to discover more about trends and processes that are affecting the overall sport and business environment. On the other hand, we receive several daily suggestions from our fans. We read and take track of all the ideas trying to perform feasibility studies of them. One of the most interesting initiatives we work on in the CSR field follows the best-practices of EPL clubs.
What opportunities do you see to attract and bind the younger generation to you as a club – alternative content, content generated by the players on platforms like Twitch, the whole esports development and other ways.
The mix of tradition and innovation is the answer. For example, the potential for virtual reality is enormous for a club like Venezia where 80 percent of our sales is outside Italy. Not all these people are able to travel here for matches, so with this VR app, a club like VFC will break down geographical barriers in order to bring them closer to the club without having to be physically here. I love the romance of the beautiful game that’s why I think one of our biggest missions as football operators is to bring fans back to the stadium with a mix of comfort and technology.
How can football clubs increase their financial stability and sustainability? Do you think it needs fundamental changes within the football system, like closed leagues, a salary cap or similar?
A well-defined salary cap sized on the expected revenues for each club might be an applicable solution. Football will only be sustainable when the single clubs will be self-sustaining, for this tohap pen it will be necessary for each club to become aware of its potential trying to create talent from their academies. Setting the mentality of the club from the beginning must be the basis from which to start. Our business is the “business of talent”.
What trends do you see developing in the next 3 years in terms of new commercial opportunities for football and especially your club? Ar there any new projects you are currently developing?
Three years is a relative short lapse of time but in post-modern football I’m pretty sure we will see the passage from the current fan-token and crypto-based sponsorship deals to a proper and concrete execution of projects based on blockchain technology. Blockchain could completely re-shape the sport environment. Since the advent of blockchain technology, the role of intermediaries has been severely challenged, this technology has been reshaping information security and trust mechanisms and traditional services in which intermediary’s roles seem untouchable: thanks to smart contracts, they won’t be anymore, and clubs and fans both will benefit.