Cardiff Breakfast Club 16th March – Jonathan Ford, FAW

Posted: March 14, 2012 in Cardiff Breakfast Club, Events
Tags: , , ,

With Hull’s victory over Cardiff City last night still a sore point for some attendees, it was perhaps less than timely that a Hull graduate should address the Breakfast Club this morning. However, Jonathan Ford, CEO of the Football Association of Wales (FAW), impressed supporters of both Welsh football and Welsh business with his inspiring and dynamic presentation, firmly demonstrating the sport’s transition from ball game to business.

The game is undoubtedly the UK’s most-watched sport, with the least-watched game in 2004 still garnering significantly more viewers than the year’s other defining sporting moment, Kelly Holmes’ Olympic gold.

In Wales, too, the default to rugby is not as clear-cut as one may assume. There are 100,000 registered football players in Wales, and 1500 clubs. In comparison, Wales has 50,000 registered rugby players, in 340 clubs. While Jonathan acknowledged rugby’s immense popularity was a particular challenge to football in Wales, interest in Welsh football is not that far behind. He praised the incredible show of support for Cardiff City’s recent Carling Cup final, and also highlighted the fact that the media coverage it received was comparable to the same weekend’s rugby match against England.

Jonathan stressed the fact that in him the FAW were appointing a businessman, not a footballer; a break from tradition in the sporting world. The business model he has put in place is reaping rewards, and is no longer reactive, but proactive. An example that sparked questions from the floor concerned the FAW’s revenue streams. 35% of the FAW’s income is generated through television coverage of games, yet coverage received is directly dependent on the team you are drawn against – a game of chance

'Innovating, evolving and getting stronger' - FA Wales

that causes significant financial “peaks and troughs”. With similar problems experienced by other UEFA countries, a centralisation process has been put in place to allow a much steadier return – and greater long-term planning and investment.

Jonathan firmly believes in the power of football to “improve people’s lives here in Wales”. FAW profits are ploughed back into the development of the game at all levels. Having “torn up” the previous strategic plan, Jonathan’s centres the new FAW around team work, communication, evolution and, of course, “winning more”. Ultimately, it is “all about qualification”, with sights firmly set on the Brazil World Cup 2014 and the Euros in 2016.

With Jonathan’s “forward-thinking, modern FAW” laying the building blocks,Wales should have no problem capitalising on our players’ undoubted talent when qualification comes. As one attendee said after the presentation – “See you in Brazil!”

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The next Breakfast Club meeting will take place on the 27th of April, with Suzi Clay of Land Securities. If you would like to reserve a place, please email sally@petersensone.com. 

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