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SBD Global/March 17, 2017/People and Pop Culture

Hangin' With ... G2 Strategic Owner & CEO Marshall Glickman

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G2 Strategic Owner & CEO Marshall Glickman
MARSHALL GLICKMAN is the owner & CEO of consulting firm G2 Strategic. Glickman's firm in December signed an agreement with La Liga that sees G2 provide consultation to La Liga and Spanish second-division clubs, with customer acquisition, customer retention and customer spend as the primary objectives. Some of G2's other clients include Euroleague Basketball and several football, rugby and basketball clubs in France. Glickman, the former president of the NBA Portland Trail Blazers, spoke to SBD Global about the current landscape of La Liga, the league's efforts to increase its presence in the U.S. and helping smaller clubs understand how sports teams can operate as businesses.

On the balance of power in La Liga ...
Marshall Glickman: The balance of power in most European leagues resides with only a handful of teams. That's a double-edged sword. With Barça and Real Madrid, in particular, and to a lesser extent Atlético [Madrid] and a couple of other clubs dominating the coverage, dominating the exposure, dominating the value of the audiovisual rights, there's a real movement by [La Liga] President [Javier] Tebas to try to reset the balance. They have to do that with kid gloves and a lot of care, because you don't want to do anything that's going to reduce the importance of the big clubs. So, it's complicated. I am working with those [top] clubs, but doing everything possible to bring up the business level and improve the business culture, I would call it, of all the clubs.

On the percentage of fans who are season-ticket holders ...
Glickman: The good thing in Spain, which is different from the other countries, is the season ticket base is very high, it's extraordinarily high. It's similar to the NFL; the vast majority of the customers are full season-ticket customers. There's been a reliance over a long time on what I call natural demand: people who are just in love with the team and in love with the game. I think that Spain, like most other countries, has peaked out on natural demand and so they have to develop strategies to nurture new markets. That's something where they're well behind the U.S. leagues in that area. There will be a lot of focus on millennials, women, and business and family seating.

On La Liga's efforts to increase its following in the U.S. ...
Glickman: It's the clubs more than the league itself that resonate, at least in the States. Barça and Real Madrid, in particular, are powerful teams and are well-known. La Liga is a very strong and well-known brand, especially in Asia and certain other markets. I'm not sure in the U.S. you're going to see that. It's not like the NBA running around the world. It's a different scenario. First of all, we have a rapidly growing, established professional soccer league in the States that's doing really well. And then you have all the other leagues that are really trying to do the same thing, the Italian league, the French league and, of course, the English Premier League are making inroads in the States. I think that's been good for Major League Soccer. I think La Liga and the EPL will continue to do well with audiovisual exposure in the States, but I'm not sure it's going to translate much further than that.

On the Int'l Champions Cup ...
Glickman: They're really doing it to fly the flag, sort of spread the gospel and put the brand out there more than anything else. In and of itself, those games aren't really profitable, or not significantly profitable. In the long run, the perspective is that the brands are important. They want to put the brand out there.

On balancing int'l expansion with other priorities ...
Glickman: The international growth of these leagues is important, no doubt, but I also think they need to take care of business at home, so that's been part of my message. And it has resonated. Tebas deserves a lot of credit because a lot of the clubs sit back and think, "Well, the money's just going to always roll in via TV and through international expansion." But that's not necessarily the case. You have some clubs that are only playing to 50% of capacity. There's a little more of a focus now -- at least with La Liga and I think it's true also in France -- where there's a need to build up the business organizations. The business side of some of the biggest clubs is very small. They would remind you of something more like a Triple-A baseball team.

Hangin' With runs each Friday in SBD Global.
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