FC Barcelona Faces the Challenges of Going Global – February 2006

FC Barcelona Faces the Challenges of Going Global – February 2006

FC Barcelona’s Ferran Soriano addresses a large audience during his recent presentation at the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre.

When is a football club not a football club? When it is FC Barcelona – Barca’s motto may well be ‘more than a club’, but a recent presentation by Ferran Soriano, Vice President of FC Barcelona, indicates the club has aspirations that will add to this view.

Ahead of Barca’s game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League, Soriano told an audience of more than 130 students, academics and practitioners that the club (known in Spain as a polideportivo – multi-sports club) intends to develop the Barca name as a global entertainment brand. This marks a major strategic development for a club that, only three years ago, appeared to be languishing in the financial and commercial doldrums.

Following the election of Joan Laporta as the President of FC Barcelona in 2003, a newly installed board of directors has sought to address a number of key challenges. Soriano outlined these during his presentation as being better product management (i.e. player and team performance), cost control and value chain management, and revenue growth and globalisation.

In some respects, Barca has a lot of catching up to do as clubs such as Manchester United have been pursuing an overtly commercial strategy for a significantly longer period of time. The presentation nevertheless left no one in any doubt about the focus and seriousness of Barcelona’s intentions, in particular the importance of new international market places for the club. A business model including the development of overseas football schools, clear positioning of the brand and the effective execution and management of strategy were all identified in the presentation as being vital to the successful achievement of the clubs aims.

The conclusions were especially telling and will be familiar to many people who have a grounding in business principles. In describing the strategic alternatives open to Barca, the virtuous circle of activities the club is seeking to develop and the use of strategic webs to illustrate their actions, Soriano’s presentation clearly established the need for football clubs to approach their activities in a formal, coherent and strategic way. Moreover, it marked a significant change in thinking for both the ‘old Barca’ and for football clubs generally, especially when they have global commercial aspirations.

Keywords: football, soccer, strategy, globalisation, FC Barcelona, polideportivo

Read Birkbeck’s Barca press release:

Read press coverage of the event:
The Daily Telegraph
The Guardian
The Independent on Sunday
Sport Magazine

Access the FC Barcelona web site here.

Read more about the polideportivo way of organising sport here.

If you want to know more about FC Barcelona, we recommend reading the following:

Ball, P. (2003), ‘Morbo – The Story of Spanish Football, WSC Books
Barend, F., and van Dorp, H. (1999), ‘Ajax, Barcelona, Cruyff’, Bloomsbury
Burns, J. (2000), ‘Barca – A People’s Passion’, Bloomsbury
Kuper, S. (2003), ‘Football Against the Enemy’, Orion

For more detailed information about strategy and globalisation in sport, the following provide a good introduction:

Beech, J., and Chadwick, S. (2004), ‘The Business of Sport Management’, Financial Times Prentice Hall
Beech, J., and Chadwick, S. (2006), ‘The Marketing of Sport’, Financial Times Prentice Hall
Trenberth, L. (2003), ‘Managing the Business of Sport’, Thomson Learning Australia

For more information about the FC Barcelona presentation or about globalisation in sport, please contact Dr Simon Chadwick (

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