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Emner: Interview med Casper*Stylsvig

  1. #1

    Standard Interview med Casper*Stylsvig

    Har modtaget nedestående fra et medlem, som jeg lige vil poste her i forum. Et interview fra offthepitch og det er fra Brian Bødker

    Milan is magnificent, but currently AC Milan are not.
    "Milan l'è semper un gran Milan" is a popular saying in the city, which roughly means "Milan is always a magnificent Milan."
    Proof of that saying could be found in the 12-metre Swarovski Christmas tree, adorned with over 1,000 Swarovski crystals, which was displayed in Milan's magnificent shopping centre, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
    The expression has its origins in the lyrics of a 1939 song by Giovanni D´Anzi and Alfredo Bracchi, and it encapsulates the spirit of Milan, but also the football club AC Milan. Milan and AC Milan are expected to be magnificent, nothing less will do. The city of Milan is thriving, but AC Milan are in distress. *
    AC Milan have been tormented by turmoil
    Ever since their long-time patron, Silvio Berlusconi, sold the club in 2017, the seven-time Champions League winners have been tormented by turmoil. Today, the club are owned by the American hedge fund Elliott Group, who is under genuine pressure because expectations are high but both the financial and sporting results are poor.
    So, how does the hedge fund plan to get AC Milan back on top again?*
    The first step has been setting up a new management team with the former director of Arsenal, Ivan Gazidis, as CEO.
    One of his primary objectives is transforming AC Milan into a sustainable business with a focus on generating more revenue. The man in charge of that is Chief Revenue Officer Casper Stylsvig.

    At the magnificent Casa Milan, interviewed Casper*Stylsvig about undertaking the enormous responsibility of transforming a club dependent on ownership money into a financially sustainable business that once again fights for trophies, not survival.
    Stylsvig has his work cut out for him. One of the worrying points at AC Milan is the decline in commercial revenue from €63 million to €57 million in their latest accounts. AC Milan have been left behind commercially and have not increased their revenue in line with their direct competitors in Serie A and in Europe.

    Many things to adjust
    "This is a very exciting project. Very demanding. There are so many things to adjust. The project is very simple: On the bigger scale, we have to get back to where the club was successful. We are focusing on the commercial side, on young talents. We are looking at our assets and will change some things.
    "In my domain, the commercial side, AC Milan was a club that in 2003 had a turnover of €200 million, the same as Real Madrid, and was the second-largest club in the world,"*Stylsvig explains.*
    Today, Real Madrid has a turnover of €757 million in 2018/19, and AC Milan is still on about €200 million," .
    I do not want to copy everything I did in Manchester United"
    He believes that when Silvio Berlusconi owned AC Milan, there was in fact a commercial mindset at the club. Under Berlusconi, they developed the brand and signed some good sponsors, but the sponsors were often the ones approaching the club, instead of the club actively having to seek out sponsors.
    "This is the mentality that we have to change. We are now a commercial company and have to be proactive."

    How do you do that?
    "You hire the right people. That is what I am currently doing. I am setting up my team. This has taken much longer than I expected. Finding good employees in sales is hard. I want a combination of employees who have experience from the football business and employees who have no experience from the football business."
    Find our own formula
    Stylsvig argues that AC Milan will have to do things their own way.
    "I do not want to copy everything I did in Manchester United. We must find our own formula, and this is what we are developing. We are looking for a way that combines our values and our brand and where we do things in our way.
    "What is interesting is that AC Milan used to be a very global brand, but in recent years it has become a very Italian brand. Ninety per cent of our partners are Italian, which is not wrong, but it shows that there is not a global mindset in the club."

    AC Milan brand is a global giant and refers to China, where AC Milan are the second-biggest brand, due largely to the Serie A being the first tournament to be broadcasted in China in the 1980s.
    "This was when AC Milan was most successful, which has benefited the club greatly. There is a lot of work to be done. We have laid out a strategy, and now we are going for it. But it will take a long time."
    Can you elaborate on the strategy?
    "It is to be more sales-oriented and more commercial. Not in a negative way, but we have a story we have not told the world. There are many brands and companies in the world who have heard other football clubs' stories many times, but they have never heard our story.
    "The task is now to go and talk to those brands. Everybody knows what has happened in our past, but they do not know what will happen in our future. It is the future of AC Milan which we sell with this project, the future and the visions we have in the new management team."

    We don't exclude anyone
    In 2019, AC Milan introduced a new visual design called the "Milan Pulse Inline" and a new narrative. How would you describe this new narrative?
    "First, it is the crest which is a heart that beats and sends waves out to the rest of the world. It focuses on the positive - our history and our future. We have made it much brighter and positive.
    "Our neighbours, FC Internazionale, which we call our cousins, say, 'Not for Everyone.' We talk about everyone, expressed in the statement, 'From Milan to Many.' *We don't exclude anyone, instead we want to involve anyone."

    We have very talented employees who take care of our partners, called "partnership managers" - but we do not have salespeople"
    Do you ever encounter thinking along the lines of "Well, that's all in the past; can you rebuild that in the future?"*
    "Yes, of course. We have won the Champions League seven times. That can't be taken away from us. Paolo Maldini doesn't talk about qualifying for the CL - he talks about winning it. That is a mindset and a spirit. I think the club has the right mindset and spirit.
    "There have been some tough years, but last season we had 54,000 average attendants at home games. When, not if, we get this club on track, it will be big."
    When you were hired by AC Milan, you talked to and said that you thought there were "some low-hanging fruits you wanted to get your hands on." Can you describe these low-hanging fruits?
    "Yes, there are low-hanging fruits. We have never had salespeople on sponsors. We have very talented employees who take care of our partners, called "partnership managers" - but we do not have salespeople. Talented salesmen are hard to find. They are the people who everyone pursues. We do not have them currently, but they are the ones we are recruiting."
    Currently, what are the greatest challenges for you?
    "Our greatest challenge, right now, is focus. There are so many things missing and to correct. Getting things prioritised and done in the right order, this has been the toughest learning curve for me - to do things in the right order.
    "One thing which takes a very long time is sponsorship. Negotiating sponsorship deals can take years. So, that is where we are starting. It irritates me that we don't have the best e-commerce platform or retail licensing programme, but that will just have to wait. *
    "The press always think that making sponsorship deals is just turning a knob and they fall into your lap. But it is very hard sales work."
    We hired hardcore salespeople
    You are talking a lot about finding the right salespeople. What skills are you looking for?
    "At Manchester United, we hired hardcore salespeople who could negotiate, who weren't afraid to close a deal, almost like IT salespersons *who just went for it. We had procedures and everything was in a system. In AC Milan, I want a combination. In Manchester United, we only went for the money. If a brand wanted to pay, we could always find a case to integrate the brand with the club."

    Medlem Nr. 4

  2. #2


    Can this approach be transferred to AC Milan?
    "I think some of it can. The discipline and approach can be transferred, and that is what I am looking for. I am looking for the right sales approach, and it is not just me. In Manchester United, the salespeople got all the resources they needed, and that is what I am working to recreate here in AC Milan."

    Is AC Milan's organisation agile or is it difficult to change?
    "It is hard to change, but being in the position that I am, I can change a lot. It is important to me not just to make quick changes, but that the organisation and employees are following me. And understand why I am making these changes.
    "It is in my nature to just tear the house down and build it up again, but to be successful here, I need the employees to back me up, and I will have to explain my actions. That is why it is taking much longer than I initially expected.
    "I don't want to bring an army of skilful old Manchester United colleagues to AC Milan because that wouldn't work. I need a combination of the best salespeople. When I look at what I want on my commercial team, I do it like a manager building a football team. I do not look at skin colour, religion, language, nationality, or culture. I just want the best."

    Captains on board*
    Are they easy to find?
    "No, they are not. They have to fit in the club and have the right mindset. They have to be someone who I trust, and that is why it is taking so long. But I think I have my captains on board now. That will hopefully transpire through the organisation, that there are some skilful salespeople on board."
    There is a great tension between north and south in England. After two years, we got accepted. It is the same here at AC Milan"
    So, these new salespeople, are they also intended to be internal change agents in AC Milan?*
    "Yes, they have to be, because I can't do it all by myself. It would take way too much time to change some people who have been in the organisation for 20 or more years. It is a balance of keeping the values they have and bringing in new.
    "In Manchester United, people couldn't understand why we opened a sales office in London. The people at Old Trafford couldn't understand what the people in London were doing. There is a great tension between north and south in England. After two years, we got accepted.
    "It is the same here at AC Milan. When they see that I am bringing results to the club, they will accept the approach. Right now, they mainly accept me because of my position."
    Stylsvig explains that he is trying to exercise a Scandinavian leadership approach with an open-door policy, low power distance, etc.
    "They are not used to that here. Sometimes, in an organisation that has been managed from the top for many years, you need to have a different leadership style if you want to get something done. You need to have another style, which doesn't come natural to me, so I have to balance that leadership."
    No sale is easy
    * * * **
    Milan's financial result for 2019 was a loss of €146 million, even worse than the €123 million loss of 2018. The commercial revenue also declined, from €63 million to €57 million. Why the decline?
    "I can look forward. I don't really want to look back. I was brought in to turn it around. I am looking at the potential. When I compare where Real Madrid is today and where AC Milan is, I see where the potential is. And potential is everywhere."

    Is it easy to sell the AC Milan brand?
    "I do not think any sale is easy, because then you don't have the right price. But our history comes naturally, we have a fantastic storyline *and a narrative and a fantastic future.
    "The problem at this time, which is a little bump on the road, is that things are not going very well. But when we talk about the ambitions behind this project, our ownership, our management, then we will be successful. That is also why I have joined this project. Because it is fantastic."
    What factors are crucial to growing AC Milan's revenue back to the levels you had 15 years ago, when you were a European powerhouse?
    "Sporting success, of course, but I think having the right employees, the management with the right vision, and that is what we are creating right now. I have been in clubs where I have seen that these factors are working and paying off. I know how to get this club back on track, but I do not know exactly how to reach €750 million right now."

    It took Liverpool many years
    How dependent are you on the sporting results for commercial success?
    "You can look at it in this way: there has not been a sporting success in many years now, and Milan is still a giant brand. The best example is Liverpool FC. Five years ago, Liverpool was nothing, and now everybody is talking about how fantastic they are.
    "This is how fast things can change. The two first seasons with Jürgen Klopp as head coach were not fantastic, but people forget this, because everything is running perfectly for them now, and they might win their first Premier League title in 30 years. They have never won the Premier League. It just shows that if you are persistent, it will reward you in the end.
    "It took many years for the Liverpool ownership to get the right formula. Now they have expanded the stadium, they have one of the best teams in Europe, and they have a fantastic coach. They have worked on getting all the fundamentals in place to get a business running, but it has taken a long time for them."
    Liverpool is commercially not as good as Manchester City, Manchester United or Bayern Munich, but they are getting there"
    And Stylsvig is surprised that Liverpool were struggling for so many years.
    "Now Liverpool also has a sales office in London and a sales department. In my opinion, Liverpool is commercially not as good as Manchester City, Manchester United or Bayern Munich, but they are getting there."
    The partners you talk to, have their demands changed over time, or is that demand static?
    "No, their demands have changed a lot. When I started in Manchester United in 2008, it was merely what you can call selling stickers. We sold branding. We could inform the partners about the branding, and the partners looked if they could afford it.
    "Today, all partners and brands come extremely prepared to the meetings. They know exactly what they want. It has to be aligned with their brand. There has to be a return on investment. It has to be something they can track. It is always a decision that is made by the board.
    "The only concern partners had ten years ago was, 'If we sign a contract with Manchester United, are the Liverpool fans going to get upset, and will they not buy our product anymore?' That was the most common question that partners asked, but today partners do not think too much about that. They sometimes ask that, but today they are more interested in engagement, activation and, of course, return on investment. Today, partners are much more involved in the sponsoring partnerships."

    Hard work to do the next 5-8 years
    What role does a new stadium play in the journey that the club are embarking on?*
    "It plays a big role. We are working very hard to make it happen. AC Milan needs a new stadium. Both as a product to generate new income, but also I think a club like AC Milan needs a stadium as a statement that says, 'One of the best clubs in the world should play in one of the best stadium in the world!'
    "San Siro has been that for many years, but it is over 90 years old and was last renovated in 1990. We can see it with families - the stadium isn't good enough to accommodate them. It is fantastic to see Curva Sud go crazy, but there is a lot of small things like toilets, food and drinks facilities, and so on - when it comes to them, then the stadium is not up to standard.
    "The sponsor facilities are ok, but we can definitely make them better."

    What are your personal ambitions for your work at AC Milan?
    "I have to get this club back on track. There is enough work for me to do the next five to eight years."

    At what point will you have the club back on track? When AC Milan are making a financial surplus?
    "Yes. There is much to do right now - some days are really frustrating, and some days are really inspiring. If I went back to Manchester United, I could only make a small impact. It is different here; if I get the strategy right and get the right people I want, then I would make an impact that can be measured."
    You can't ask for that anymore
    What is a realistic timeframe before you can measure an impact?
    "At least three years. In Manchester United, it took at least three years before it began to kick in. The first year at Manchester United, we didn't know what we were doing. It is a difficult moment for AC Milan right now being only at 14th place in Serie A and that is not easy to sell. But we are selling the vision of the future and we are very good at that."
    So, the message to the fans is be patient?
    "No, you can't ask for that anymore. The fans have been incredibly patient in recent years. It will be mean to ask for more patience from the fans. Instead of patience, we ask for confidence in that the new owners have hired the right people, people capable of doing the right things. We are just being honest; it will take a long time."

    Medlem Nr. 4

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