Football: United City generating income? Boss Gottschalk says that's the plan

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Aug 21 2020 01:10 AM

The new owners of United City FC, formerly known as Ceres-Negros FC, aim to avoid the fate suffered practically by all local professional soccer clubs over the past decade, intending the club to be a viable and profitable organization over the long haul.

“The players are receiving a salary and the money has to come from somewhere. It just cannot come from the owners pumping money into a club budget,” United City co-founder Eric Gottschalk said in a virtual press conference held last Wednesday. 

“We need to bring other stakeholders to the table,” added the Dubai-based MMC Sports Marketing chief executive officer, revealing the various possible revenue streams for the club during the briefing that lasted for slightly over an hour.

“We have to maintain sustainability and turn it (United City) into an income-generating club as well.” 

Gottschalk explained that, unlike the club’s previous owner, Bacolod-based businessman Leo Rey Yanson, who bankrolled the entire team, “the (present) club is not owned by an individual but owned by a group of people that has been set up with a proper corporate structure.

“The club cannot be dependent on just an individual. I think that this will give sustainability, credibility and confidence that this football club is there to stay in the long run.”

It is common knowledge that Yanson’s family-owned transport company, one of the biggest in the country, was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was cited as a key reason why he was prompted to relinquish ownership and management of the multi-titled club to the new group of investors headed by Gottschalk, who used to be marketing man for the embattled Global FC until resigning early this year.

The Games and Amusements Board and the Philippine Football Federation, the organizer of the Philippines Football League, has called Global FC’s attention over its failure to pay the salaries of its players running into thousands of pesos. 

Gottshcalk said that one of keys to making the new club viable was “we need to try to unlock all the commercial opportunities that there are in football.” 

“Sponsorship and advertising are the obvious ones but during a pandemic just right now it is going to be a tight task,” Gottschalk acknowledged.

“We are in discussion with some brands, because we obviously want to unveil a shirt sponsor,” he added. “And before the season starts we are open to negotiations on that side. But what we are doing is trying to unlock other opportunities such as the merchandise side of things.”

Among the potential sources of income, he said, was United City’s crest and logo, “which we will make available to club fans.”

He also disclosed that “we might also become the first club in the Philippines to have a formal membership program, similar to what they have done to clubs in Europe where you have a membership card and have some benefits.

“Hopefully we can begin this formal program before the start of the season once attendance is allowed. This has been in progress for several weeks now.”

The concept is also similar to the season memberships sold by clubs in the NBA to their fans, who enjoy perks and privileges different from match-day ticket holders.

Gottschalk said the club was also exploring the possibility of charging tickets to United City matches, something virtually unheard of in domestic club competition. 

“It doesn’t mean that tickets need to be overpriced but we are staging matches, having expenses and having entertainment to the community,” he said “, (so) then the community in return should also participate in a ticketing concept.

“I believe if you match-day tickets for free they lose a certain value.”

Both income schemes might not be feasible in the meantime since the PFF has announced that the PFL games will be crowd-free once the league kicks off play at the PFF national training field in Carmona, Cavite.

The club is likewise bent on monetizing its huge potential fan base by partnering with a European company "that will enable us to be one the frontrunners in sponsorship and advertising income through social media,” according to Gottschalk.

“It will really open new assets in selling for football clubs and football operations,” he said, adding that he was willing to share the plan with other PFL clubs.

At present there were no plans yet where United City will have its home base of operations, he said, stressing that the priority was “to build on the image and identity of the club. Then it is almost secondary where the actual teams will be based.”

With the team’s roster, led by Azkal team captain Stephan Schrock, complete, Gottschalk said that they would unveil the team kit next week as well as announcing the club’s new coach.

United City’s new owners failed to come to terms with Yugoslavian mentor Ristov Vidakovic, who piloted the Busmen to three successful seasons since 2017, according to general manager Ace Bright, prompting the club to look for a competent replacement. 

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