Jordan Gardner: Growing US soccer players on a foreign field
Increasingly, football clubs come in groups. The nature of ownership has changed much since the patronage of British industrialists started ‘works teams’ at their factories. In fact, the only real remnants are some of the nicknames.
These days, wealthy owners have multiple teams in different leagues on different continents. Sometimes there is an obvious vision, sometimes not.
US-based soccer investor Jordan Gardner is taking a different approach. He has already taken stakes in clubs in the UK and Ireland but his next venture will be different. He is leading a consortium that hopes to take over a top-flight Danish club and change their business model. A major part of that is developing talented players from the overseas, primarily the fertile development area of the US, then selling them on to major clubs.
It is a twist on an established approach and the among the first to link the North American game and Europe in such a direct way.
How he got started
The logic behind his approach
“You can't run a sports club, just like a business. But you shouldn't run it just like a passion project where there is no sound business acumen to it.”
His experiences at Dundalk and Swansea. Assessing the change in the business model after relegation
If you have chosen a league, how do you choose a club?
Selling the vision to the community and supporters
Is Europe a real pull given the insular nature of the other main US sports?
The MLS system v the European system for youth development
The emphasis on getting the environment right
The advantage of not having to sell to Barcelona at the moment
Moving beyond Moneyball
The comparisons with Man City’s global approach
“We're looking at players that are very young, coming in on mostly free transfers a. and a small enough scale where we can kind of get players, I don't want to say that are under the radar, but a different profiles player than, let's say, a large European club is looking at.”
Why the UK is not the most attractive league for this idea
Why “clubs don’t really try to achieve a sustainable model”
“I think the problem with the way so much of the revenue is skewed towards television, it does not incentivise the club's to innovate when it comes to other revenue streams”
The importance of communicating the philosophy
“A lot of clubs and owners aren't out there in terms of communicating exactly what the philosophy is, in terms of, ‘are we spending money? and ‘what are we spending money on?’
Why he is already looking at his next club
His thoughts on his next target country