Ayer la edición europea del conocido diario Financial Times dedicó media página a un artículo que hablaba sobre el libro de Ferran Soriano.
A continuación el artículo en versión original.
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Barça’s tactics for a successful turnroundReview by Roger Blitz, Sports and Leisure Correspondent
Goal: Management Ideas from the World of Football
By Ferran Soriano
Everyone should be a fan of Barcelona football club. They play an absurdly exhilarating style of football. Lionel Messi, their biggest talent, is not your average boorish footballer but a diminutive, shy man with a ready smile. And in this era of oligarchs and sheikhs buying up football clubs, this one is owned and run by its supporters.
It was not always so jolly at “Barça”, as Ferran Soriano points out at the start of his book, Goal. When he became vice-president and general manager in 2003, Barcelona was heavily indebted, and losing money and control of player wages. They had not won a trophy for four seasons.
What follows is a turnround story that Soriano says will have resonance with any company in any sector. Going from struggling operation to best-in-class, the club has won Spain’s La Liga the past three seasons and the Champions League in two of the past three. Barcelona is second only to its bitter rivals, Real Madrid, as football’s biggest moneymaking club.
So, what are Soriano’s rules for making a comeback?
Start with big ambitions. Far from retrenching to look after the concerns of the local, Catalan market, Barcelona – under the presidency of Joan Laporta – sought to become one of football’s biggest international brands.
You also carry out some basic housekeeping – in this case, discovering how many of the club’s registered members were still living (all but 9,000, it turned out) and answering phone calls. You increase ticket prices by up to 40 per cent, beef up the marketing operation – by copying Manchester United’s strategy – and tidy the place up a bit.
Next, you set about getting players to win matches. This is the hard part. No one familiar with European football will find much out of the ordinary in Soriano’s chapters on “the winning team” and “leadership”. The right head coach is critical, as is recognising when to ship out ageing and uninterested superstars.
It is a pity that Soriano glosses over the aspect of the club that rivals most admire in Barcelona – La Masia, its football academy, which teaches players in all age groups the art of ball possession, the principal footballing ingredient behind the club’s success.
Nor is there much attention to Barcelona’s financial health. True, Soriano left three years ago, but the successors to Laporta and Soriano gave a grave and public assessment of the financial position they inherited. This is Soriano’s chance to respond to what some people regard as scaremongering – but he ducks it. So, too, the question of what to do about the imbalance in wealth across La Liga clubs, caused in large part by Barcelona and Real Madrid grabbing the bulk of television rights revenues.
He is more ready to confront the limitations of some of Barcelona’s grand plans. The global vision has had mixed results. The Japanese love the club, but attempts to create Barcelona franchises in other parts of the world have not worked.
Also, while the club’s branding of Unicef on its shirts was an admirable expression of Barça’s values, it did not last. The Qatari government is now paying €30m a season for shirt sponsorship.
More illuminating are his insights into wage and transfer negotiations. There are management lessons to be drawn here, such as preparing well and predetermining a fair price, but the most important is to keep emotions under control.
Compared to those Anglo-Saxons at Chelsea, whose sale of Eidur Gudjohnsen to Barcelona was conducted by email, the Latins at AC Milan turn transfers into a gladiatorial struggle. Soriano reports how after a face-to-face negotiation with AC Milan had broken down, the managing director of the Italian club got out his phone and in front of Soriano and colleagues relayed the details of the failed talks to a journalist. The deal eventually got done.
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