Week 179 (18 - 24 March)
The CEO of the Bundesliga, Christian Seifert, delivered an excellent keynote speech at this week’s Leaders in Business Summit in New York, outlining how the Bundesliga’s forward-thinking strategy is delivering higher standards of performance across the league’s key business areas, which include developing home-grown players for the national side.
Seifert’s speech was anchored in his belief that football clubs can grow their business in the digital age by embracing new innovations and ditching outdated practices.
By taking the stage at the Leaders in Business Summit, Seifert placed the Bundesliga’s brand in the eyeline of sports industry experts and key decision makers in football. And they could not have failed to have been impressed.
The Bundesliga’s collaborative, all-encompassing and long-term approach to delivering what its partners want was best highlighted by Seifert when he said: “The aim in being a leader in innovation and technology is not only to drive forward our own growth but also to think in terms of solutions for the challenges faced by our partners. Our all-embracing approach covers a media company's entire value-chain – from the design of the licensing packages, via the broadcasting technology, right through to special formats and accompanying marketing measures, spanning across all media channels.”
It is this approach which Seifert believes sets the Bundesliga apart: “This is a unique proposition that we want to build upon. Long-term, the only league to enjoy success will be the one offering a high-calibre competition, a distinctive character of its own and top-level media competence, in equal measure.”
Seifert’s speech conveyed a sports executive who is evangelical about embracing digital innovation in sport and using it to enhance a brand’s existing, traditional, selling points.
In the case of the Bundesliga, these traditional strengths are affordable ticket prices, safe standing areas and a showcase for young German players. The latter is something that he is deeply invested in: “If the next Pelé is out there, he will probably make his debut in the Bundesliga.”
Seifert’s speech was both informative and authoritative – thanks to his authenticity as a communicator.
This is the man, after all, who once admitted that in his early days as the CEO of Germany’s top football league, he misspelt "Bundesliga". Schoolboys, let alone CEOs, would think twice before admitting to that one.
And this week, before travelling to New York, he was at it again – facing up to failures that is – by stating to ESPN FC that the Bundesliga was inferior to the top leagues in England, Italy and Spain in terms of the number of competitors who can realistically challenge for the title year-on-year.
Seifert’s openness to self-assessment means that when he talks, the football industry listens, and his opinions, strategies and ideas thereby carry considerable weight.