Sports Paper

Problem/Issue/Objective of the paper:

In this working paper we are going to analyze and see the major point of Paris Saint-Germain marketing strategy to put in place their project. This will help us to see this project from a different point of view, not as football fan but as a business analyzer.
In The Football’s world almost of the team which has worldwide recognition can claimed it thanks to their different trophy and championship, and due to the players which have worn their jersey. But since the beginning of the 21st century, the “Football Business” have take an important place in the Football’s we have been witness of it for the first time with the Real Madrid with his “Galactics”, they began to buy the best player available at this time from all around the world. The Club is “The Prophet of the football business” , after them some teams have follow their example like Chelsea F.C in 2003, which was buy by Roman Abramovich, or Manchester City which was buy by Abu Dhabi invertors. We will see how Paris Saint-Germain, is going to put his name to the top of football teams of our era, thanks to Football business.

Answer

Title: THE MARKETING STRATEGY OF THE PARIS SAINT GERMAIN’S NEW PROJECT

Abstract

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) is a French professional football club that was established in 1970. In 2011, the club was bought by the Qatar Investment Authority, who embarked on an ambitious project of rebuilding PSG as a strong brand, an investment vehicle, and an enduring symbol of the city of Paris. The Parisian has already become a world-famous club because of the world-famous football stars who have played there such as David Beckham, Ronaldinho, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The aim of this paper is to provide an analysis of PSG not as a football fan but as a business analyst. The study is undertaken based on three seasons (2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014), during which the Parisian project has been unfolding. Findings from this analysis suggest that the Parisian project has been more successful and less controversial than other similar business projects such as Real Madrid’s Galácticos project. The Parisian project has been successful in terms of both performances on the pitch and revenue generation.

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Contents

Abstract 2

Introduction. 3

Research Design and Methodology. 4

Analysis & Findings. 5

Part 1: The Inspiration for the Model of Paris Saint-Germain Project 5

  1. Football Business. 5
  2. The Paris Saint-Germain Project 8

Part 2: The Evolution of the Parisian Project the last three seasons. 12

  1. First Season (2011-2012) 12
  2. Second Season (2012-2013) 15

III.         Third Season (In Progress) (2013-2014) 17

Conclusion. 19

References. 20

 

Introduction

In the football business, teams use different strategies to raise revenue. Traditionally, football clubs have continued to rely on new players, new logos, community management activities, and sponsorships to build strong brands, raise revenue, and increase profitability (Karpavicius & Jucevicius, 2009). For these clubs to emerge as strong brands, they must win prestigious trophies as well as become associated with renowned cities, landmark events, and legendary football players (Brown & Walsh, 2000). In recent years, a new trend has emerged whereby football clubs are increasingly being turned into mega business projects (Desbordes, 2007). Examples of football clubs that have embraced this approach include Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Manchester City. More recently, Paris Saint Germain has become the newest football business project. The aim of this paper is to examine the marketing strategy of Paris Saint Germain’s New Project. The objective is to view the football club not from the perspective of a football fan but rather that of a business strategist.

Research Design and Methodology

The sources were mainly come from the internet. Focus was on the most recent sources because they fit in well with the nature of the subject being investigated. The Parisian project is relatively new and most of the information can only be obtained through information published on the internet since 2011. In this review of sources, priority was on the views and perspectives of the Parisian region. French newspaper articles were consulted for information. Specifically, one newspaper which was relied upon a lot is http://www.lesechos.fr. This French daily newspaper was established in 1908. This newspaper, together with professional online publications such as ESPNFC.com, Deloitte.com and UEFA.com provided critical information regarding the PSG project. Such sources proved to be very useful in providing insights into the prospects and impacts of the PSG project.

In this research paper, open-source information repositories such as Wikipedia were avoided because of their susceptibility to manipulation by virtually anyone who has access to the internet. Blogs and social network pages were also avoided primarily because the views expressed in them are authored by people who do not necessarily have the requisite knowledge regarding the project. Even in situations where such people may be knowledgeable, their views may be misleading because of lack of objectivity.

Analysis & Findings

Part 1: The Inspiration for the Model of Paris Saint-Germain Project

I.                Football Business

In the world of football business, a club’s ability to win major trophies and championships is a critical factor. Moreover, most ambitious football clubs compete to hire the services of the most successful, highly talented, and legendary players. This is largely because of the popularity that such players add to the clubs whose jerseys they wear. However, in the 21st century, many fundamental changes have started occurring in regards to the way the football business is conducted. Football clubs have started spending huge amounts of money to buy the best players in the profession as the most important pillar of success. For instance, Real Madrid, a Spanish football club, launched the “Galácticos” project in 2000, in which famous players from different parts of the world were bought. Some of the world-famous football superstars who joined the club include Luis Figo in the year 2000, Zinedine Zidane (2001), Ronaldo (2002), and David Beckham (2003) (www.lesechos.fr, 2014).

There is controversy regarding whether the Galácticos Project was successful or not. The first Galactico era lasted between 2000 and 2005 when the club’s president Florentino Perez. During this time, Real Madrid made a loss of £202.5m (Insidespanishfootball.com, 2014). When Perez left the presidency in 2005, the club went back on the path of profitability. Those who argue that the Galácticos project was successful point out that the losses were simply a price that Real Madrid had to pay for success. The club’s profits increased because the big signings had sparked an increase in the sale of jerseys.

Critics of the Galácticos project argue that it involved huge amounts of money and it was expected to bring about profitability and yet it was not driven purely by economics. However, this criticism helps to shed light on the most important benefit of the project: the wealth of talent that the rising football stars of Real Madrid were being exposed to. Through this exposure, the project helped to bring up a new breed of ambitious footballers who would help the club earn more trophies in future, thereby growing its popularity and profitability. Between 2000 and 2005, Real Madrid won three trophies: a La Liga title, an Intercontinental title, and a Champions League.

Based on the future prospects of the club and its emerging trend of profitability, it is wrong to claim that the Galácticos project was a failure. In fact, most of its current success may be attributed to the foundation that was established during the Galácticos era. The club won La Liga titles during the 2006-07, 2007-08, and 2011-12 seasons (Realmadrid.com, 2014). In the current season (2013-14) the club has qualified for the semi-finals of the Champions League (Realmadrid.com, 2014). To appreciate the project as a success, one needs to look at three aspects: brand popularity, profitability, and performance on the pitch. So far, Real Madrid has managed to achieve success on all these fronts.

Chelsea FC followed the example of Real Madrid FC in 2003 when it was bought by Roman Abramovich. Following this buyout, Chelsea gradually rose to the position of the biggest spender in the English Premier League. Some of the most expensive players the club has bought since 2003 include Andriy Shevchenko, John Obi Mikel, Nicolas Anelka, Michael Essien, Eden Hazard, and Fernando Torres. This strategy brought about handsome returns in terms of performance on the pitch and brand popularity. During the 2004/05 season, Chelsea won the English Premier League (EPL) title for the first time since 1954. The club has since lifted the EPL for two more seasons: 2005/06 and 2009/10. Currently, Chelsea is in the second place in the EPL table, meaning that it has a chance to win the EPL title once again (Premierleague.com, 2014). The club also won the FA Cup in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2012. Moreover, Chelsea FC’s business strategy contributed to the club’s success in European football, whereby the club lifted the UEFA Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League 2013.

In terms of financial performance, Chelsea has not been very successful. In 2012, the club made a modest profit of £1.4 million, buoyed by Champions League success (Dailymail.co.uk, 2013). In 2013, it announced a loss of £49.4million, which was contributed to by its exit from the Champions league (Dailymail.co.uk, 2013). As the club shifts its attention to the long-term goal of financial sustainability, there are concerns that the era of big spending on world-famous football players at Stamford Bridge may be over.

More recently, Manchester City has followed in the footsteps of Real Madrid and Chelsea in spending big to gain success in the football business. Since the club was bought by Abu Dhabi investors, it has set aside a huge budget to buy some of the world’s most talented players. For example, the club spent £74 million to buy David Silva, Jerome Boateng, Yaya Toure, and Aleksandar Kolarov (Dailymail.co.uk, 2014). These signings have paid off because the club has managed to win crucial trophies, including the EPL in 2011-12, which came to the club for the first time since 1967-68. During the last five seasons, Manchester City has utilized a net spend of about £480 million in a bid to rise to the top of the English Premier League (Dailymail.co.uk, 2014). These efforts have paid off because the club has ultimately secured a place among the top four EPL clubs. In the current EPL season, Manchester City is in the third position (Premierleague.com, 2014).

II.             The Paris Saint-Germain Project

The Paris Saint-Germain Football Club (PSG) was established in 1970. It was started as a vision by a group of individuals who were desperate to witness the emergence of an elite Paris-based football club. The club started its operations in the second tier of French football and achieved immediate success by joining the first division in its second year. During the second season since its establishment, PSG finished in the 16th position. The club was relegated for one season in 1974 before bouncing back into first division football. Since then, it has never been relegated again.

During the 1980s, PSG established as one of the top French clubs by securing a consistent position in the top third of the country’s first division league. PSG won the French first division League for the first time in 1986. This success enabled the club to represent the image of France on the continental stage. During the 1988-89 season, PSG finished in the second place in the Cup Winners Cup.

During the early 1990s, PSG started being confronted by numerous debts. It also faced the need to embark on a process of modernization. The club hoped to continue doing well both nationally and on the European front in the years to come. In 1993-94, PSG became the champion of France for the second time. Internationally, the club also did well in the Cup Winners Cup by reaching the semi-finals of the tournament. The club continued doing well in the mid-1990s by defeating major European clubs such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich and winning the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue.

The late 1990s saw the club secure a position in the Champions League. At the same time, it experienced a change of ownership. With the new ownership, its financial security had been reinforced. This enabled it to start focusing on improving upon its own standards. At the turn of the century, PSG was experiencing mixed fortunes characterized by lackluster performances both domestically and on the continental front. A frequent change of coaching staff as a result of unsatisfactory performance ultimately led to a stable run in both the Ligue 1 and in the Champions league during the 2000-2001 season.

During the 2000-2001 season, PSG heralded a new era of hiring the services of famous football players such as Mikel Arteta,Ronaldinho, and Heinze. The rise of football genius Ronaldinho greatly enhanced PSG’s prospects of establishing itself as a strong brand and an elite football club. At last, PSG was achieving tremendous success in consolidating its position in Ligue 1 with a view to qualify for the Champions League.

In the mid-2000s, PSG had already started confronting the challenges of established clubs. For example, the club found it extremely difficult to replace superstar players who decided to move to a new club. Yet it also had to face growing pressure to qualify for different competitions both domestically and continentally. Dissatisfaction with results on the pitch had started turning the heat on coaches and club chief executives who resigned more often than in the past.

During the 2005-2006 season, one of the main goals of the club was to finish in the top three in the French Ligue 1. Unfortunately, PSG finished in the ninth position. Meanwhile, it managed to lift the French Cup and to qualify for the UEFA Cup in the following season. At this point, new owners also arrived and took over the Parisian project. The new owners included Butler Capital Partners, Colony Capital, and Morgan Stanley. This change of ownership heralded a new era in the club’s history. However, despite the change of ownership, the club continued to struggle to rise to the top of French Football. Nevertheless, the future remained bright as PSG won Coupe de la Ligue and recruited new famous players, including Giuly and Makelele.

During the 2009-2010, the Parisian project stayed alive with the hunt for trophies being reinforced by the signing of new players. Although far from perfect in terms of performance in the pitch, PSG asserted its position as a strong contender both on the French league table and on the European front. Despite the club dropping out of the domestic league title race, it maintained its quest for glory in other Cups such as the Europa League.

So far, the most fundamental changes at PSG as a football business occurred during the 2011-2012 season. This was evident in the determination by the new owners to recruit new players, promote the club’s brand, and put in place an aggressive management team. Some of the new players that PSG recruited include Blaise Matuidi, Jérémy Ménez, Javier Pastore, and Kevin Gameiro. The only thing that remained was for the club to find its balance in the context of the new way of doing business. Although the club dramatically lost in the quest for the Ligue 1 title on the last day of the season, it sent a strong message that it was the club to beat both locally and on the continental stage.

Since then, the preoccupation of the managers of the Parisian project has been to unleash the potential of PSG as a strong brand that can compete against established European clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Chelsea. The 2012-2013 season demonstrated just that; new football superstars in the names of Thiago Silva, David Beckham, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were brought to the Parisian club. These successful players were going to be coached by Carlo Ancelotti, one of the most successful coaches in European football. Therefore, it did not come as a surprise for PSG to win the Ligue 1 title and to reach the quarter finals of the Champions League. By this time, the PSG brand had become very popular; during the Champions League quarter final match against FC Barcelona, nearly one million ticket requests were made (psg.fr, 2014).

Today, Paris Saint-Germain is popular across Europe because of if frequent appearances in the Europa League. The presence of great players such as Ronaldinho, Pedro Miguel Pauleta, and Raï also provides a major popularity boost for the club. Following the change of ownership to Qatar Investment Authority, the club has finally attained its goal of financial security. This explains why 2011 has been hailed as the year of change for PSG. The new owners want the club to become the best club in France, to win the Champions League, and to be recognized as a strong global brand in the foreseeable future.

Part 2: The Evolution of the Parisian Project the Last Three Seasons

I.                First Season (2011-2012)

Laying the Groundwork: New Signings and New Ownership

During the 2011-2012 season, PSG bought a number of new players. They include Blaise Matuidi, Jérémy Ménez, Kevin Gameiro Diego Lugano, and Javier Pastore. Other players that were brought in during this season include Jean-Eudes Maurice, Alex, Maxwell, Thiago Motta, Mohamed Sissoko, Loris Arnaud, Granddi Ngoyi, and Nicolas Douchez. These players provided a major morale boost for the starting line-up while at the same contributing to a new sense of urgency in the team’s objective of winning titles during the season. Although the new line-up needed some time to find its balance in the domestic league, it eventually found its winning ways on the continental stage.

The hiring of Jean-Claude Blanc as the chief operating officer was inspired by the need to increase commercial revenue. One of the preliminary steps that PSG took at this time was to terminate the ten-year contract with Sportfive, a sports marketing agency. The objective was to enable the club adopt an in-house approach in all negotiations. The club also hired the services of Emirates as a long-term jersey sponsor. This sponsorship, which brings in  €3.5 million annually, was extended to 2014. At the same time, a sponsorship from Nike was also being pursued during this season, with the objective being to put in place a renewal clause. This moves was appropriate considering that Jersey sales increased considerably following the signing of the new superstar players as well as other activities aimed at establishing PSG as a strong brand with a global presence.

Financial Performance

During this season, PSG generated revenue of €101 million (Lesechos.fr, 2014). This performance was lower significantly lower than that of Lyon (€133 million) and Marseille (€151 million) (Lesechos.fr, 2014). However, PSG’s revenue was €34 million higher than that of fourth-placed Lille (Lesechos.fr, 2014). The most striking thing about the revenue streams of the leading Ligue 1 contenders arises from the fact that the Montpellier generated a modest revenue (€37 million) but went on to win the 2011/12 season (Lesechos.fr, 2014).

PSG did not rely a lot on television considering that this segment did not make a significant contribution to the club’s revenue. This may be partly because of the club’s absence from the Champions League. This was a poor display for a club that aspires to achieve revenue levels similar to those of successful English clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester United, and Arsenal. To achieve these revenue levels, PSG must secure a regular position in the Champions League.

Europa League participation greatly contributed to PSG’s revenues. Revenue arising from participation in domestic competitions did not feature prominently in the club’s project. This is because there is relatively equitable revenue allocation, with the only exception being that a small percentage of the revenue (30 percent) is allocated on the basis of league performance. This means that it was impossible for the club’s revenue streams to shoot up dramatically simply by finishing in a higher position in the league.

The importance of the Champions League was demonstrated by the poor financial performance of PSG compared to that of Marseille, Lille, and Lyon. PSG generated €2.4 million through Europa League performances while Marseille, Lille, and Lyon generated an average of €22 million through Champions League performances (Espnfc.com, 2013a). In this regard, the amount earned depends partly on team performance on the pitch and partly on allocation in the TV pool. Allocation in the TV pool depends on both the progress made in the current Champions league season and the club’s finishing place in the previous Ligue 1. For this reason, the PSG project focused on both Champions League and Ligue 1 performances in order to maximize revenue earnings from the former.

Long-Term Strategies for the Parisian Project

The strategies that PSG adopted during this season were geared towards increasing match-day income. The club was looking for various ways of closing the gap between its income and that of Europe’s finest Champions League earners: Manchester United, Real Madrid, Arsenal, and Barcelona. The club sought to bridge gap by raising ticket prices, boosting attendances, and enhancing its revenue mix. For football strategists at PSG, the main activities aimed at enhancing the revenue mix entailed bringing in more premium customers.

The new owners at PSG made remarkable progress to attract more crowds during the 2011-2012 season. Average attendance increased by 50 percent compared to the previous season. During the previous season, the former PSG president had launched a crackdown against hooligans, a move that affected match attendances. To deal with hooligans, the club encouraged fans to attend matches through family-based arrangements. Although this move has paid off, it has led to a situation where the number of fans from higher social classes is increasing more rapidly than that of fans from lower social classes. Nevertheless, the club managed to achieve its goal of raising attendances to 40,000 fans.

The club also looked at increasing ticket prices. The biggest challenge with this approach was that PSG’s ticket prices were already among the highest in France. Although the club had started providing football of better quality, there was a limit to what the average fan was willing to pay. Therefore, the club had better look for ingenious ways of generating as much revenue as possible from its premium customers.

PSG also directed a lot of attention to commercial activities both within the city and around the world. This explains why the club extended the Emirates sponsorship deal to 2014. For the same reason, the new owners of the club entered into an agreement with Qatar National Bank, whereby the latter would be allowed to establish a brand presence within the stadium. Prospects of a takeover of the shirt deal by the bank were also examined because the brand-presence agreement expires at the same time with the Emirates jersey deal. The club also expected merchandising revenue to increase remarkably mainly through shirt sales in the wake of the arrival of world-class talent. Shirt sales already started showing signs of increasing dramatically although they brought in meager revenue.

In summary, the 2011-2012 season brought about impressive results considering that the club was laying down the groundwork for the future of the Parisian project. Attendances were doubled, a new shirt deal was signed and world-famous talent was recruited. The objectives for the next season were also set. The club needed to secure a regular place in the Champions League, to finish at the top of the Ligue 1, and to earn additional revenue through the sale of players who were no longer able to secure a regular position in the team following the arrival of new talent.

II.             Second Season (2012-2013)

On-the-pitch Performance

This season was successful for PSG in terms of performance on the pitch. The club lifted the Ligue 1 title for the first time in 19 years. The club also stages an impressive attempt in the Champions league. In the end, Carlo Ancelotti had succeeded in assembling a fully functional squad out of a struggling club. By reaching the quarter finals of the Champions League, the coach had provided the club with the inspiration it needed against the backdrop of its emergence as the next big project in the football business. These results set the stage for the objectives of the next season: to improve results on both domestic and continental fronts.

Financial Performance

In terms of financial performance, PSG also made great achievements. For instance, it surpassed Bayern Munich in terms of commercial revenue. According to Money League, a ranking of professional football clubs based on revenue by accounting firm Deloitte, PSG reported the highest ever commercial revenue for a professional football club, amounting to €254.7 million (Deloitte.com, 2014). According to Espn.com (2013b), this represented a five-fold increase compared to the club’s financial performance during the 2009-2010 season. These impressive results add to the worldwide profile that has been generated by the club’s victory in Ligue 1 and its ability to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Lucrative sponsorships with Emirates and Nike were the mainstay of this impressive financial performance during the season. The revenue growth was also contributed to by partnerships with a number of global brands including Microsoft, McDonalds, and Panasonic. Deals with the Qatar Tourism Authority as well as Qatari telecom service provider Ooredoo also strengthened the club’s revenue base as well as its growing status camaraderie across the Middle East.

Objectives for the 2013-2014 Season

The objectives of the club for 2013-2014 season are important because they will have a remarkable impact on PSG’s goal of attaining its revenue goal of €250 million for 2014 (Espnfc.com, 2013a). With the newly-acquired situation of sufficient strength and quality, PSG set the goal of winning both the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue. The objective was to make PSG one of the most decorated clubs in France. The club also identified the minimum aim of reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions. It even fancied with the idea of securing a place in the semi-finals and possibly lifting the prestigious continental trophy. To make these goals realistic, PSG emphasized the need to maintain consistency as well as consolidate its strength and quality on both domestic and continental fronts.

III.           Third Season (In Progress) (2013-2014)

Performance on the pitch

During the current season, PSG repeated the feat they achieved in the previous season by reaching the quarter finals of the Champions League. The club is also at the top of the French Ligue 1 table with 79 points, ten above second-placed AS Monaco FC. If PSG finishes at the top of the domestic league, it will have succeeded in achieving its minimum goals set out in the previous season. This means that the club has retained the competitive edge it had established during the previous season to enable it consolidate its impressive performance and aim for revenue growth in the future. Unlike during the 2011-2012 season when the French League trophy dramatically slipped from the club’s grip, this season seems to portray PSG as the Ligue 1 champions-in-waiting.

Financial performance and brand strength

One of the greatest achievements for Paris Saint-Germain is that it continued to perform well financially by surpassing the €250 million mark in terms of revenues (UEFA.org, 2014; Lesechos.fr, 2014). Its brand also continued gaining strength mainly because of impressive performance, appearances in the Champions League, association with world-class players, and lucrative deals with Emirates and Nike. Today, PSG is fast becoming a brand that people from different parts of the world can easily recognize. More jerseys are being sold and attendances have greatly improved. The dream of one day reaching the finals of the Champions is longer a mirage for this French Club. Although the club’s revenues are yet to be adjusted for purposes of determining whether there is compliance with the financial fair play (FFP) rules the club cannot be said to be on the red as far as its ability to recruit new players is concerned (Lesechos.fr, 2013).

Prediction of objectives for the next season

The Parisian project is underway and the results generated so far are impressive. This project is different from Real Madrid’s Galacticos project in that there is no controversy over its results in terms of on-the-pitch and financial performance. Just like in the case of Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain has managed to turn things round for the French club within a relatively short time. This time seems even shorter considering that PSG is a relatively new club. The club’s rise to the top of French and European football shows that financial security can greatly shorten the process of building a strong brand on two fronts: commercial activities and performance on the pitch.

A core component of this project will involve buying more talented players and selling the existing players who are unable to secure a regular position in the team because of the increased competition posed by new recruits. At the same time, commercial activities aimed at popularizing the club through attendances, global communications strategies, sponsorships, partnerships, and branding will continue to be a mainstay of the PSG project. This approach will enable Paris Saint-Germain to complete with Europe’s finest football clubs both in the hunt for trophies and in the pursuit of return on investment.

Conclusion

The Parisian project is a demonstration of the changing face of football business. Football clubs are increasingly joining the fray by becoming big spenders in efforts to acquire prestige, to win trophies, and to become viable investment vehicles. A core objective in this new trend entails the ability to attract world-famous football superstars through lucrative deals. To succeed in this capital intensive-approach, most clubs begin with a takeover process. The Parisian project began with a takeover of PSG by the Qatar Investment Authority. This project seems to have been more success during the past three seasons compared to Real Madrid’s Galácticos project. PSG has now become a serious threat to traditional favorites at both the French Ligue 1 table and advanced stages of the Champions League.

For the Parisian project to continue holding together and to become sustainable, PSG has to focus on consistency in the pursuit of trophies on both local and continental fronts. The financial security provided by the takeover by new owners guarantees the club of availability of funds. Other than funds, PSG must look for ingenious ways of generating revenue to avoid flouting the financial fair play rules established by football agencies. In the meantime, revenues generated through long-term sponsorship deals with Emirates, Nike and other corporate bodies will continue to be the primary sources of revenue. The club will also need to promote revenues through sale of players, growing attendances, sales of jerseys, and television broadcasting rights. For the Parisian project to be judged as a success in the long run from the perspective of football business, PSG must always attain the minimum targets of reaching the quarter finals of the Champions and finishing in a top-four position in Ligue 1 every year.

 

References

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