Chelsea Chief Executive, Peter Kenyon, has spoken recently of the need for the club to make, at least, the final of the Champions League in order for them to be acknowledged as a ‘world brand.’
But many diehard fans, who would rather see their team win the Premiership, don’t agree. There may be developing a sense of disconnect between these fans and the club they support. A gap in credibility which refuses to be bridged by clever merchandising.
Football clubs have been driven by a deep-rooted set of values which provide the foundation for everything that happens at the club. They provide clarity, continuity and morality. They can disinfect and wipe away negativity.
Good coaches espouse the club’s eternal values and use them as the building blocks of success. What develops is as clear philosophy that governs events on and off the field. It’s what makes a great football club. Clearly, success will be judged on results, but a team is far more than the sum of its cups. Outstanding clubs like Barcelona, AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Arsenal have principles which transcend instant gratification, which link umbilically to the community.
The values of a football club are not something to be decided by the board alone. Or in the interests of shareholders. It’s a conversation that includes all parties. It takes into account the motives behind the development of the football club; the aspirations of the supporters and board of directors; how the football club represents the needs of the community; the way that business is conducted.
Chelsea may well meet Peter Kenyon’s goals and win the Champions League, thus boosting brand values. But at what price? At what price if it undermines other values held dearly by hardcore fans?
It’s a strategy that does not lead to collective unity, so doubts must exist about its sustainability.