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THU 26 MAY 2022 | PRESIDENTS
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Meet LaLiga: Javier Tebas, Angel Haro and Jose Castro take a look at the latest developments in LaLiga and its clubs
  • Against the backdrop of the UEFA Europa League final, the president of LaLiga and his Real Betis and Sevilla FC counterparts covered the main developments and projects concerning the clubs in an informal chat organised by LaLiga with the national and international media.

LaLiga president, Javier Tebas, together with his counterparts at Sevilla FC and Real Betis, Jose Castro and Angel Haro, respectively, took part in an informal meeting with the media organised by LaLiga. With the UEFA Europa League final providing the backdrop, the presidents covered a range of issues related to the growth of LaLiga, the clubs and the challenges which lie ahead in the digital, international, sustainability and investment spheres.

Financial fair play

Javier Tebas: "The big difference and what has made ours a financially sustainable league is our financial controls, which are different to UEFA's or those in other countries where they don't exist. Obviously, there were losses with the pandemic, but they aren't losses that have led to players or the Tax Agency not getting paid. The clubs, either because they had the capital or because they had the capacity to take on debt, have managed to pull through. That demonstrates the strength of our competition."

Jose Castro: "Financial fair play and image rights have been fundamental for getting through this crisis period and making Spanish football stronger and giving it greater financial resources and capital to deal with problems that might arise."

Angel Haro: "Financial fair play establishes a necessary rigour that clubs must have so that, on the one hand, they can balance the sporting side and give joy to fans, while on the other, the books also have to be balanced to allow the club to grow."

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Internationalisation and brand development

Angel Haro: "Any large company, in this case Real Betis, has to consider internationalisation by breaking down borders. We have two levers in this regard: one is the umbrella of LaLiga, because LaLiga has offices in large markets, and the other is differentiation, finding elements that set us apart, such as fan loyalty and the values it conveys related to closeness. I like to say that Real Betis is a team with a soul, which is something that few teams in the world have and, obviously, that sets you apart. There are also special projects such as Forever Green, through which your club can improve the environment and the surrounding area."

"In a bid to discover new markets, we've staged preseasons in Mexico, postseasons in the United States and even presentations in Japan. After the period with COVID, we're resuming our tours of Japan that we're going to stage with our basketball team. In collaboration with LaLiga, we're going to strike an agreement on women's football with the Indonesian Association and we've signed agreements with 17 academies.

Jose Castro: "Sevilla FC is a leader in the sporting arena due to its results and the titles it has won in recent years, but in terms of the brand we have enormous room for growth. We're working in markets such as Mexico, China and India, a country we'll be visiting soon to expand the agreements we have. Internationalisation is massively important to keep building the brand. To further the brand and crystallise the way of working we were looking for, something had to change. We wanted something Sevillian that could reach anywhere in the world, portraying an international but also a local image."

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Digitalisation

Javier Tebas: "When we talk about digitalisation strategies, one side of it is social media, and another very important one is data platforms, where you get to know your followers from all over the world. You can't send the same message to a Sevilla FC or Real Betis fan who lives in Sevilla as a fan of yours in Japan or anywhere else. Local fans have a greater sense of belonging, but there are also fans abroad who want to support these clubs. There's one thing that's very clear on social media: if people aren't talking about you on social media, you don't exist. How are the data collected? Through social media, games, the official club app and many other things, but you have to work at it."

"LaLiga is behind the Premier League in this regard. In terms of social media, the top 10 Premier League clubs all have over 10 million followers. We still haven't got those numbers beyond third place. We have a lot of work to do, because that's one of the reasons why the Premier League is watched and sells so much. If those top Premier League clubs have over 100 million between them, obviously they get talked about more."

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Angel Haro: "On social media we're working on the Chinese, Japanese and Mexican markets by generating specific content. With 12 million interactions on social media in April, we've become the third Spanish club in terms of the number of interactions. On our YouTube channel, we've been the third national club for three years. Our digital strategy is very important to us."

Boost LaLiga

Javier Tebas: "Generally speaking, it's a project that the clubs are very much involved in. We calculate that, as a minimum, we have moved things forward by 15 seasons. This leap forward in time is giving the clubs a much bigger turnover. This project is going to make the clubs better, give them a better structure and as a result we'll indirectly grow our audiovisual revenues. If the clubs grow, our value and the competition grow.

Jose Castro: "Boost LaLiga and the funds from CVC will allow us to move our infrastructure forward by 10-15 years. It's true that we've grown even during the pandemic in that regard, by building the training ground with an investment of €9 million. We've also invested €20 million in the stadium in recent years, but independently of that, we're now studying Legends so they can give us guidance on what we need for the next 50 years. To improve it, expand it, or even build a new one on the same site. We have part of the funds from Boost LaLiga for that. In digitalisation and internationalisation, we have the necessary revenue to be able to invest, because the clubs need to be furnished with specific staff, both in Spain and in strategic countries.

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Angel Haro: "It's a sum of money we need to use to accelerate growth. We wouldn't have had the growth we've had without these funds. In our case, we're going to finish the stadium. We already had some money from the European Investment Bank for our training ground that we're going to start on soon. Anyone who says Boost LaLiga is bad for football either hasn't analysed it enough or has other motives."

LaLiga Tech and the use of data

Javier Tebas: "LaLiga Tech is everything that we've been working on over the past six years; technology projects such as OTT, Calendar Selector and Mediacoach, among others. This has resulted in a commercial company to market it to third parties [other competitions or broadcasters]. The idea is that, in the future, because it's not immediate, it will be possible to earn profits for the clubs and we'll be able to implement a technological improvement with what we earn, and it won't have to come out of the clubs' pockets." 

"Something very important that the clubs have is the dashboard that LaLiga provides. If the clubs want to know, for example, what's going on in Bangladesh or anywhere else in the world with their social media or with their audiences, they can see that. This helps them make strategic decisions, like deciding where to go in the summer or what the best markets are for growth and creating schools. This dashboard is more business intelligence than artificial intelligence. There has to be a human brain behind every decision, but this helps."

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Angel Haro: "I agree with Javier [Tebas] on the importance of business intelligence and on collecting as much data as possible. Then we'll face another challenge, which will be how to manage those data, but this is going to allow us to segment the markets and make personalised offers."

Jose Castro: "With data it will be possible to achieve many of the objectives we've set. Furthermore, we'll be able to use artificial intelligence with these data, which is something we've been using in the clubs in recent years."

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Sustainability

Jose Castro: "We're making a division at the training ground with three football pitches for the first team; a smart building with a large water cistern where 70% of the usable water will be able to be reused. We have changed all of the lighting to LEDs at both the training ground and the stadium. We're continuing to develop more sustainable projects at this very important juncture."

Angel Haro: "Sustainability is one of the core pillars within the CSR area. We have to make the most of football to improve our surroundings, because we reach practically one in every two people on the planet. It's not just about bringing joy to the fans, but also about changing the surroundings that you live in. Forever Green is a platform where companies collaborate on projects related to sustainability and reducing the greenhouse effect. Within 16 months, there are now 60 companies and organisations, with big names such as the United Nations and Amazon. This is allowing us to change society from the perspective of sustainability." 

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