Forums / The Stands: Intelligent Footy Debate
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Football Club 3.0
Kick4life (Southampton) 4 years ago
In the aftermath of the hugely successful London Olympics, football is in the spotlight like never before. In the press and on social media people are relishing the opportunity to have a pop at the beautiful game, and there seems to be a growing consensus that things in football need to change.

The most common disgruntlements surround money - high player salaries, clubs accruing massive debts, ticket prices increasing and team success dependent on a wealthy individual injecting billions of pounds. Everything else stems from here - the attitude of spoilt millionaire players, the unsustainable club business model, the pricing out of many fans and uncompetitive leagues where only a handful of teams have a chance of success.

The fact that these things have not dented most people's love of the game is great. But it could be so much better.

Football Club 1.0

Back in the earliest days of formalised football in the late 19th Century, clubs were established for one main reason - the joy of playing, and today millions of people still take part for the pure pleasure in amateur teams and clubs.

Football Club 2.0

But at the top level, as it quickly became enormously popular, the commercial potential of football emerged, and so running a club evolved from an amateur pursuit to a fully-fledged professional business opportunity. Today, with football now a global entertainment industry, the primary purpose of most top clubs is to make money for the owners - success on the pitch is a pleasant outcome in the pursuit of this financial goal. Of course, there is nothing legally wrong with someone buying and running a football club purely for profit, but it does seem to be the root of many of the game's problems.

Is it possible then to create a new model for a football club where profit isn't the only bottom line, instead where a sound business model, success on the pitch and a wider social role all carry equal weight?

There are some changes starting to happen that indicate this could one day be possible. In Germany clubs are being run in a much more financially sustainable way and the fan experience is more highly valued. This is perhaps just a better way of doing business, but it is certainly a healthier all-round model. And in terms of their social role, clubs in the UK do seem to be taking this more seriously, moving away from the old community schemes to a more genuine approach to social development.

Football Club 3.0

At Kick4Life we are trying to do something even more radical. We are a charity based in Lesotho, southern Africa, which uses the local popularity of football to deliver a health and education programme to orphans and vulnerable children. Since 2005 we have worked with thousands of young people, and have benefited from the support of Fabio Capello, David Beckham, FIFA, footytube, the Saints Foundation and many others.

Our focus is on helping to change lives, but over the years we have also worked with many talented young footballers. A few years ago this led to the creation of Kick4Life FC - a football team which now competes in the second tier of the national league structure (equivalent of the Championship). The team consists of former and current participants, and as well as playing for the team, they all support Kick4Life's work as volunteers and community role models. The team is not yet an income generator, but we are working towards this, with plans for merchandising, to charge entrance fees to matches and to sell sponsorship around the pitch at our centre. Eventually we hope Kick4Life FC will become a viable enterprise, with one unique characteristic - 100% of profits will be pumped back into the charity's ongoing work transforming lives through sport.

If you'd like to follow Kick4Life FC's progress this season as they challenge for a place in the Lesotho Premier League, and keep up-to-date with our wider activities, follow us on Facebook

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Kick4Life - changing lives through football