Top headhunter sees clubs moving into a new era – but they face difficult search for the leadership skills that all other industries are also seeking

19 November 2020

Tony Simpson
Photo: PA Images “Some would use the picture of some clubs being in a lifeboat, and a ship coming and asking them if they want some help. But for some reason they prefer to stay in the lifeboat. And you would find those owners and chief executives out there. And obviously we can’t help them to find the talent they are looking for because there is a big gap between what they say and what they are willing to do and spend on the development of their business," says headhunter Tony Simpson from Savannah Group.

Tony Simpson from headhunters Savannah Group, whose clients include some of the world’s biggest broadcasters, sport franchises and governing bodies, sees a clear trend towards clubs becoming content providers.

Not all clubs are on this journey yet, but according to him the front-runners in the industry have steered this path, and they are looking for a new type of executive to drive the changes needed.

Clubs find themselves in another ballgame when looking for the best talents out there to make this transition – because the skills required are wanted in industries all over the world.

According to Simpson, some clubs need to realise that they would have to spend more on executives who could execute these changes – but the football industry often tends to look within the sector for executives. That is a problem.

Some ownership groups need to see that they haven’t purchased a “normal” asset – a football club is something special that needs a well-balanced strategy in order to respect the value behind the brand.

Kasper Kronenberg kk@offthepitch.com

Actually this interview was supposed to be about something else.

About the changes that headhunters in the football industry are facing after Covid-19 came and swiped away revenue worth billions of euros within just a few months. In environments like this, chairmen and ownership groups usually tend to look for executive candidates who are familiar with cost-cutting measures.

That hard-ball type of executive who can make sure that the balance between income and expenses will be restored.

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