All tagged football

Nick Callow: How to run a sports news agency

Nick Callow is the Managing Director of HaytersTV, one of the most famous sports news agencies in the UK and breeding ground for a host of high-profile journalists.

A generation ago, they supplied ‘stringers’ and researchers, going to far-flung grounds on wet Wednesday nights to do whatever the newspapers required.

But that was when the FA Cup final was the only game on live television each season, readers poured over the reports of famous writers and the internet had not been invented. 

Now Hayters trade in video more than words and are stepping out from the shadows to develop their own brands.

This is an exploration of how the UK sports media has changed since the start of the internet generation, how Hayters have adapted and where they are moving in the future.

Mark Bradley: How to create a ‘Fan Experience' strategy

The phrases ‘fan engagement’ and ‘fan experience’ were rarely used in sports before the turn of the millennium. Certainly, in the UK, a winning team was considered the key to supporter satisfaction.

That has changed in recent years and the Fan Experience Company have been at the vanguard of this movement. Director Mark Bradley has wide experience in challenging environments across England and Europe. His vision is not just Family Stands and face-painting, he argues that a coherent fan engagement strategy will reap a commercial return, especially for those clubs operating outside the upper echelons of the Champions League.

Prof Simon Chadwick: How to wield soft power via sport

George Orwell once wrote that sport is “war minus the shooting”.

But that was in December 1945, just after the end of the second world war.

The use of sport as a political tool has evolved considerably since then.

Prof Simon Chadwick has studied the way football, F1 etc have been used as part of ’soft’ power plays by nations attempting to grow their ‘brand’ and authority.

While countries like China and Qatar, as well as clubs like PSG and Man City, spring to mind, the UK and the US are also adept at utilising their stars on the field to enhance their influence overseas.

Egor Kretsan: Zenit St Petersburg - bold, brash and speaking 15 languages

Russian football is undergoing a makeover. It has just hosted a successful World Cup and its club sides are regulars in the latter stages of European competition. The Russian League revealed a radical rebranding last year and its leading club, Zenit St Petersburg, are thinking beyond the serious stereotype into which the country’s persona sometimes falls.

They are creating high polished content, translating it into 15 languages and are not afraid to take on the world’s big teams and major media outlets on social media.

New Media Director Egor Kretsan leads the club’s content strategy. He spoke to me about their approach.

Kei Koyama: The J.League breaks out

The emerging football leagues around the world might consider the J.League as a model.

Since starting in 1993, it has formed the foundation upon which Japanese club teams have become a force in the AFC Champions League and their national side regulars in the latter stages of major international tournaments. They even co-hosted the World Cup in 2002.

Now, the J.League is looking to expand overseas using digital as a driver.

Kei Koyama, from their international development department, spoke to me about the past, present and future, including the J.League furoshiki (translated as 'wrapping cloth'). This is a digital asset hub which allows them to create better content quickly and efficiently.

We also discuss the competition’s very different demographics and the strategic importance of the 10-year broadcasting deal with DAZN.

Alex Fynn: The 'Spiritual Godfather of the Premier League'* outlines his European vision

The Sunday Times described Alex Fynn as the ‘Spiritual Godfather of the Premier League’. He is uncomfortable with the label but, in many ways, it is an apt description. The marketer and author also had an influence on the inception of the Champions League and he is critical how both conceptions have developed.

Now, Fynn is outlining his proposal for a fully-fledged European League. The concept has been talked about a lot in recent months and, if you believe the revelations in Der Speigel last year, the Continent’s elite clubs are trying to hammer out a format right now. It is fraught with difficulties but, more importantly, is it dangerous to the future of the game?

Jordan Gardner: Growing US soccer players on a foreign field

Increasingly, football clubs come in groups. 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 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.

Mario Leo: Sports Social Media Trends for 2019

This time last year sports social media analytics expert Mario Leo discussed his reflections on 2017 and his predictions for 2018.

We decided to repeat the feat this year with Mario picking out six major trends.

Given that his company, Result Sports, provides social media data on some of the world biggest football teams, Mario is in a perfect position to predict the next 12 months.

UFF: The future of football fan channels

Football Fan Channels have made a huge leap forward over the last few years. The likes of Arsenal Fan TV and United Stand have started to become essential viewing whether you supporter the club involved or not.

Now, the movement is evolving. Or, more specifically, organising, professionalising and monetising. We are seeing better videos by better presenters on a wider variety of platforms.

They have even moved to our television screens.

Ultimate Football Fan are at the vanguard of this development. I spoke to Managing Partner, Brett Lotriet Best and Rob Walk, from parent company DIG, about this maturing area of content.

Alan Smith: Penalty Box to Xbox via Press Box

Alan Smith has had a long career in English football

But, in all probability, his different achievements have different meanings depending on the demographic of the supporter.

For the over-40s, he is most famous as an unselfish striker for Leicester City, Arsenal and England. The thirtysomethings will recognise Smith from his co-commentary on Sky Sports. However, millennials will know him best as the voice of the video game Fifa.

He has just written a book, Heads Up, charting his career and I wanted to explore his journey from the pitch to the virtual pitch, via the commentary box.

John Dykes: Taking the Premier League to Asia

If you live in Asia and you follow the Premier League then John Dykes will be a familiar face. 

He hosts coverage of the English top flight for Fox Sport Asia out in Singapore.

John is English but has spent the majority of his broadcasting career in South-East Asia. Therefore he is well-positioned to discuss how interest in the Premier League has grown in the past few decades, analyse which leagues are best-placed to compete and also challenge some of the myths about football fans in this part of the world.

Neil Smythe: Turning Hashtag United into a 'real' non-League team

For the last two decades, Neil Smythe has forged a career at the vanguard of football content.

He was behind the camera (and in front of them too) at Soccer AM before helping to launch Copa90 and the Man United fans' YouTube channel, FullTimeDevils. 

But his new role is helping Hashtag United convert from a 'YouTube team' filming friendlies to one that plays competitive football in the non-League pyramid in England. Their launch channel promised the Premier League in 10 years!

Suddenly, it is serious football and how with that affect the well-publicised success story of Hashtag United

John Cross: 'Scufflers', social media and Gareth Southgate

John Cross is one of the best story-getters currently working in British sports journalism.

As Chief Football Writer for the Daily Mirror, he was in Russia reporting on the World Cup when he chatted to Sport: Digital and Social.

We spoke in the first week of the tournament and there was much to discuss: covering England, the Panama team-sheet story, a new media approach for the Three Lions, social media, his career and the industry in general.

David Murray: Finding the cracks in the sports rights market

David Murray is an expert in sports rights.

He led the BBC’s negotiations between 1999 and 2014, sealing deals with almost every major governing body during his time.

Sports rights have always been a contentious issue but now, with social media platforms and new OTT players entering the market, the conversation has taken a very different turn. 

He is an independent, rational and intelligent voice who can put the current sports rights environment (especially its threats and opportunities) in context. 

Paul Beirne: A new leaf for Canadian Soccer

Paul Beirne is a serial builder of Canadian sports organisations.

He was employee #13 at the Toronto Raptors basketball team, #1 at current MLS champions Toronto FC and was also first through the door at the Candian Premier League.

The CPL will launch in April 2019 with Beirne as President. We talk about the compelling metrics behind the League’s formation, the role fans are playing in building it from the ground up, the specific Canadian solutions they are searching for and the content strategy they’ll need to tell their story

Henry Winter: Social media and sports journalism

As Chief Football Writer of the Times, Henry Winter is one of the most respected and influential sports journalists currently working the UK.

Winter’s career started well before social media but he has fully embraced the medium and now boasts a Twitter following akin to that of a mid-table Premier League club.

This is a wide-ranging conversation taking in the state of sports journalism, the newspaper industry, TV and sport as well as social media. But it is all underpinned by the thoughtful analysis and humility Winter’s readers will know so well.

Rudy Gestede: Entrepreneur, YouTuber, Striker

Rudy Gestede is the epitome of a modern footballer.

Aside from training and playing, he is building businesses, developing his charity and promoting a personal brand on YouTube.

The Benin international has featured for Blackburn, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough during a high-calibre career. But his is looking ahead to later life with a spirit of entrepreneurship and self-development.

And social media underpins all it. 

Kevin Doyle: How to be an ex-footballer

Kevin Doyle was forced to retire from football in September 2017 at the age of 34 after suffering complications over concussions. An intelligent, hard-working striker, his 16-year career including successful spells at Reading, Wolves and, in the US, where our paths crossed at the Colorado Rapids. Doyle also won 63 caps for Ireland, scoring 14, with the highlight being his involvement in Euro 2012.

Doyle’s decision to call time drew tributes laced a tinge of sadness, given the enforced nature of his retirement. But, a few months on, how is he feeling now? How is he reassessing his life and career? Where is he going next? And how does he feel as a former footballer?