Simonites Kaminfeuer event: "Can a soccer club be run like a corporation?"
The Simonites "Kaminfeuer" events are a rare occasion for RoBe alumni to get together in a small circle, pick an expert's brain and discuss their most controversial questions. They can enjoy delicious food and thought-provoking debates.
Last Thursday's event "Sports Management" (February 22, 2018) was held at Restaurant Camino in Zurich - location, menu and atmosphere explain the frequent returns to this restaurant. Once all guests arrive, Caspar Ruetz, organizer of the event and former board member of the Simonites (Rochester-Bern Alumni Association), held a short welcome speech and introduced the guest of honor, Armin Thalmann, member of the board at FC Thun and RoBe alumnus. Even though the evening was set up in a questions-answers format, a natural form of dialogue between all guests quickly took over.
Following the evening's objective of comparing a soccer club to a corporation the first question of the structural components was quickly answered. Even though every club has a slightly different structure, according to Armin Thalmann, the one that works the best is a clear distinction between president, GM (General Manger), sports and commerce directors. While the sports director holds the most important position in a club, the coach (player coach) will most often be the face of the corporation and compensated accordingly. In England, however, the coach is also the GM and thus holds even more power. The Board of Directors, as in Armin Thalmann's case, will always overlook the actions of those positions, but is more concerned with strategic matters.
Another topic discussed was revenue. Due to recent events, athlete's salaries and especially transfer money have been widely examined in the media. On a more local level, Armin Thalmann explained that against common perception, viewers and ticketing is only a small part of the club's income. Commerce, merchandising, the league and transfers are much more important and thus, circling back to the original objective and viewing athletes as individual companies, a sports firm thrives on the market just as any other company would.
Along with dinner came the lighter topics. Does soccer carry a social responsibility? Are there really the most soccer fans in relation to population in Switzerland? What about artificial turf heat lamps? Some guests also ventured into their own business ideas and discussed joint projects.
The event ended at exactly 22:00, but most alumni enjoyed finishing their wines, coffees and deserts with ease.
Armin Thalmann is member of the board at FC Thun Berner Oberland AG. He graduated from the "CAS in General Management für Verwaltungsräte" at Rochester-Bern in 2017.
His passion for soccer developed early in life and he became a professional soccer player at a young age. However, well-meant advice by his father led him to also study mathematics and physics and he eventually became a teacher. Balancing sports, family and work, it was inevitable that he would move to the organizational side of a club.