Day 5 – Rome

By Brennon Davis & Dan Frank

The day began with an early alarm as we all packed up our belongings and new souvenirs we found during our time in Rome. Bound to fit as much as we can into our trip, we bused to the AS Roma training grounds before our flight to Athens.
AS Roma was an amazing experience. We had lecture there where we were lucky enough to hear from the Chief of Staff, a Manager of the Youth Coaches and Players, a Licensing Manager, the Chief Media Director, and the Chief Financial Officer. AS Roma is a soccer team in the top soccer league of Italy, Serie A. They have a first team that we were able to watch win over Juventus a couple days ago, but they also have a second professional team and a youth development program for kids aged 10-19. This is a large part of the growing organization that is traded publicly and owned by a company based out of Boston. Inside the organization they have their own radio and tv channels. We toured their training facility that came equipped with a world class training facility with over 9 pristine fields, living quarters for both their first teams and youth players, as well as a newly updated workout and rehab center.
As mentioned, after a quick introduction to AS Roma, the Manager of the youth teams came to explain more about the structure of the youth group and how they have managed to become so successful. AS Roma is one of the best clubs at developing youth players into impactful professional players they told us. They start at the age of 10 and even sign their youth to contracts. Over 20 scouts are in charge of finding the best talent from all over the world for these youth teams. Once at the facility there are able to stay there as long as they maintain their contract. In total, there are 558 players, 61 coaches, and 39 managers. Recently the soccer clubs have added a girls program and AS Roma has decided to do the same. They currently have 145 women players in the club. Throughout all the teams a similar playing style is coached and psychologists and both mental and physical therapists are on call to help with player recover. With all day soccer, we found out that the club signed a deal with a local school system to get them to come to the facilities to teach their boarding kids so they can still get a formal education. This system is undoubtedly well thought out and should have no issues in continuing to produce quality players both to represent their club and to sell to other clubs for revenue.
Our next speaker was Stefana, the Head of Licensing for the club. She was very insightful and knowledgable about how licensing really is the ground work for the financial aspect of a soccer club outside of selling tickets. She talked about partnerships and collaborations with other companies that hep boost market share and appeal. She used the main stream clubs as examples, Paris Saint Germain’s collaboration with the Jordan brand through connections made with Neymar and Michael Jordan. Or Liverpool’s collaboration with Vans, and AS Roma with formal wear brands. She stated that total revenue was about 15 – 20 million euros. She explained that within AS Roma, there is a lot of tradition and to use that within marketing and licensing, her team decided to introduce a new Heritage Logo. As a wrap up she talked about how advantageous it was to have an incredible licensing team on staff and how licensing was used as a strategic tool. With brand elevation, increased brand presence, the expansion of international pretense, setting up stores in the U.S. markets and Asian markets. This was our personal favorite speaker because of the financial insight and how much one collaboration and/or brand deal impacts the club.
After a short break filled with juices and snacks we did our best to stay awake for the rest of the lectures. We did a few stretches and then the Media Director came into speak with us. This was very interesting for many of the students on our trip that are studying respected fields. His entire talk was about how fast the winds change in the field of media and social perception of clubs and players. It was very interesting to hear about the drastic changes that were made when ownership changed hands. As we enter the social media age, everything has to adapt, even sports. AS Roma became the first club to start its own radio station, and is the 3rd fastest growing media company and center. It was particularly interesting to hear about how media centers handle the rumors and fake news put out by rival fanatic supporters. This system is well organized and incredibly ingenious with how fast it can adapt to stay up to date with technological revolution in todays world.
Before our last lecture we went to tour the facility. It was here that we saw a couple of their practice fields, their rehab/weight room, their residential area and lastly their media room. This was all very cool to see and the athletes that our on our trip had fun comparing it to our facilities back at OSU. We definitely all agreed that we are very fortunate to say ours are better.
Last, but not least was their Chief Financial Officer. He was a very good speaker and made it interesting by talking mostly about the transfer window and buying players, but also talked a lot about the club and their status compared to other soccer clubs around the world. This is where they talked about the new $1.1-1.2 Billion stadium, business, and residential district that they are finalizing approval for currently. He said that currently their clubs revenue from the first team is about $200-$250 million per season based off their performance during that year. With the new stadium however they are hoping to increase revenues by almost double that, $200 million for a total of $400 million per year. Currently they are renting a stadium for their game days and they feel that it is not suitable for bringing in as many fans as possible. Overall this lecture was very interesting and it was great to hear from multiple people in different divisions of the club.

After finishing our tour, we headed back to the hotel because of a late check out time. People were scrambling trying to get packed but were locked out because we missed our check out window. Immediately after we headed to the airport to hop on a flight to Athens, Greece. After waiting for about an hour to board, we finally took off and headed to our second country, Greece. We met our guide and hopped on the bus to finally check into the hotel and complete our long and adventurous day. We cannot wait to explore the city tomorrow!

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