FC Cartagena's general director, Rebeca García, discusses the Albinegros’ latest developments, with the club having returned to professional football two seasons ago and having explored new business opportunities since then, ones that are already making an impact. The Estadio Cartagonova has become key to generating income, while there are also other new ways in which the club is increasing the volume of business.
Digitalisation and internationalisation are both playing an important role in the club's growth. In fact, a social development project was launched in China this season, demonstrating the club's commitment to making a difference in society at the global level. The director also likes Boost LaLiga, describing it as a “very positive” project for the club, for LaLiga and for sport in general.
- What is the club’s roadmap in a business sense?
At FC Cartagena, we are constantly growing in all professional areas, while also growing in an economic-financial sense will be essential for us to continue competing in LaLiga.
Without a doubt, our promotion into professional football two seasons ago opened the doors to new business opportunities that we are beginning to make the most of. Our first season in LaLiga was 2020/21 and that took place in the bubble of the Covid pandemic. In this past season, that of 2021/22, we have made improvements to the stadium facilities, the advertising contracts, the ticketing department and the commercial collaborations we have with other companies and/or institutions, with these improvements significant enough that we’ve been able to grow.
LaLiga, through the CVC deal, has also opened important new growth opportunities that we want to take advantage of. In fact, we have created a new store and new offices, have enhanced the FCC Business project, have started construction work on the stadium restaurant and have taken the first steps on our sports city project, which we’ll present in a few days.
- How is the stadium being used to generate new income?
With the Estadio Cartagonova, it is possible to generate significant advertising revenues thanks to the various advertising spaces that we have and that we try to exploit to the maximum.
The business community of the entire region, and particularly the businesses in the Cartagena area, are supporting the team as much as possible. We are aware of the effort they make and we show our gratitude through our club/sponsor relationships.
We have various projects in mind in terms of making the most of the other resources the stadium offers, which will help us grow revenues. This includes improving the video scoreboard by installing a larger and more modern one, opening the Estadio Cartagonova to fans who want to take guided tours of our facilities, or building VIP boxes in addition to those in our FCC Business Zone. In addition, we are currently building a restaurant in the stadium, one that overlooks the pitch, and the plan is for it to be managed by a local restaurateur and become a reference in the region.
- How important is FCC Business for the club and why is this project growing so much?
FCC Business is one of the projects we are most proud of at the club. Since it launched in 2019, 200 companies have already backed this project that, as its slogan says, is “much more than football”. Within the Estadio Cartagonova, the companies have a space where they can share business experiences, they can network and they can collaborate through solidarity campaigns linked to our surroundings. We are truly delighted with how the members of FCC Business have embraced this great project. Our venue has become a meeting place for companies, where they can meet with their employees and with other companies, always with football and togetherness in common.
- What is the club doing to grow its brand?
Promotion up a division has been a boost for the growth of the FC Cartagena brand. I think we’re making the most of our own communication tools and those that LaLiga provides us with, to grow the FC Cartagena brand.
For example, the 2022/23 season ticket campaign that we just launched is designed to also attract fans who live outside Cartagena and even outside the region. We launched two special season tickets, the Regional Season Ticket and the Expansion Season Ticket, which are designed for football fans who want to visit us either on a regular basis or on a more occasional basis, giving them a season ticket option that permits entry to three matches of the fan’s choice for just 45 euros.
- Digitalisation is another key factor in clubs’ growth. How is the club working digitally to improve fan relations and to reach more fans?
Since we were promoted into LaLiga SmartBank, we have been working hard on this. We want to improve the connectivity of the stadium by installing a powerful WiFi network for our fans and for the media. We are also working on user uptake so that we can create fan profiles, to offer them a better and more personalised service. We recently released a new app for Android and we’re about to release it for Apple as well. Furthermore, the creation of new content, improvements in the user experience and the personalisation of our communications, such as birthday greetings for our season ticket holders, are other examples of actions we’re carrying out in terms of digitalisation.
- In Shinji Okazaki, you have had an international player who has been at three World Cups with Japan. What does having him in the squad mean for the club in terms of international exposure and sponsorship?
It’s always important to know how to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by having a player like Okazaki in the squad. Besides the sporting contribution, having an international player of this level has allowed us to make the FC Cartagena brand better known in Asia. He has given many interviews to Japanese media during the season. Even journalists from the FIFA+ channel came here when they were making a report about Asian footballers in LaLiga, filming with Okazaki for a few days at our facilities and out and about in the city. As for our sponsors, Okazaki became one of the faces of Ricardo Fuentes, a great company which has commercial agreements in Asia and which carried out several promotional events throughout the season, with the player helping give the company visibility in that continent.
- At the international level, a social development project was launched in China this season. What is the status of this project and what benefits is it bringing to the club?
FC Cartagena participated in a new social project in China that was launched this season by MR3 Football, with this project focused on comprehensive training for boys and girls in some of the least developed areas of China. It is being carried out in the regions of Sichuan, Yunnan and Shanghai and has grown from 20 students in the first edition in 2020 to more than 100 this past season. FC Cartagena is a club committed to social development on a global scale and the club collaborates both methodologically (by helping to improve the quality of coaching) and socially (by providing scholarships). When we started the project, the beginning went very well, but there was a new lockdown in Shanghai so it had to be halted in the past few months. Now, it’s time to resume this project again.
- How does FC Cartagena view the Boost LaLiga project? What projects does the club have in mind?
We see it as something very positive for our club, for LaLiga and for sport in general. Our whole team at FC Cartagena will actively participate in the Boost LaLiga project. We may be a club with a small structure, but we’re very active in all areas where LaLiga and the Boost LaLiga plan calls for our participation. I am very proud of the team we have here. We moved up to LaLiga at the time of the Covid bubble, so all our time was taken up by adapting to the protocols so that we could compete in LaLiga and keep the Covid issue under control. Now, though, we are active in all areas and, over the course of the 2021/22 season, we have continued to improve in order to compete and to make a difference through sport. We are being guided by LaLiga in everything that Boost LaLiga entails.
- Finally, as the general director of a professional football club, what do you think can be done for more women to occupy management positions?
The first step is for us women to dare to do this, as we must never doubt that we are capable of being in these management positions, we should free ourselves from any cultural and/or educational complexes and we should stand equal to our colleagues with whom we share a desk. And, of course, the boards of directors must take a step forward and try to include women in their management positions.
I’m not just referring to professional football with this, as it’s something for all sectors to consider. I come from the world of consulting and the lack of women isn’t only a problem I’ve found here. There is an overall lack of women in managerial positions so we must continue working, both women and men, to ensure that more female colleagues are installed in managerial positions without any hesitations. I have already met many women in middle management and I’d like to think that this would be the first step for them to reach the top management positions. I believe that the best way I can encourage this to happen is to say it by doing it, by working. This issue is difficult to sum up with a few words in an interview, because it has many perspectives from which we, both women and men, must look and improve.