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Volume 22 No. 18
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The Sit-Down: Tom Glick, president, NYCFC

As part of City Football Group, which also includes Manchester City, he’s had a broad view of soccer and perfected sleeping on planes.

W e have clubs in New York, Manchester, Yokohama and Melbourne, but we have offices in nine locations. … You just learn to use your smartphone to see what time it is in all these places and if it’s an acceptable time to call.

What we knew is that New York has more soccer fans than any other city in the country, so this is all about creating a club for New Yorkers with New Yorkers, a real sense of belonging.

We’re averaging 30,000 fans. We just sold our 19,000th season ticket, well ahead of our plan, which was to sell 17,000.

Photo by: PATRICK E. MCCARTHY
The atmosphere at Yankee Stadium is maybe the best surprise. An authentic, organic soccer experience, and it’s a real distinctive atmosphere in New York sports.

The English Premier League is the best and most important league in the world. I think it’s hard to argue otherwise.

The revenues, the global viewership, the talent … it’s … continuing to now put some space between itself and the other leagues, so it’s exciting to be part of that, something that is truly global and being viewed in all parts of the world at all times.

This was a bet on the city of New York as well as on soccer in the U.S., but specifically on Major League Soccer’s model as a league. We’re convinced that the growth will continue to be steady, and may even accelerate.

Startups are a lot of fun.

I have been blessed to be part of a few startups and stadium builds in minor league baseball. We built a stadium in Lansing, Mich., in 1996, [and the] city of Sacramento in 2000, and had new clubs arrive. They’re incredibly fun times, intense and fast paced.

It’s completely different than Manchester City, a 130-year-old team that is now on a very exciting journey these last seven years — the fastest-growing club over those seven years — but this is a brand-new team.

The sport of soccer is unique, and maybe a bit more similar to ice hockey here in the States in terms of the undivided attention that it commands amongst its fans.

The thing you will notice if you’ve been to a game in Europe [is] no one wants to say hello, to be thanked for coming, to be asked how things are going, no matter how friendly you are while the game is going on, because the game is so important. So for 90 minutes, it is commanding everyone’s attention.

In the States we are more commercial, and I think that’s OK.

It’s OK to be more commercial, because ultimately the business of sports and entertainment continues to grow.

These sorts of American sports management commercial techniques are being spread around the globe, but there are also great ideas in Europe, in Asia, in the U.K. that are also coming the other way.

If I reflect on what’s been important to me and the organizations I’ve worked for, it’s probably two things. The first is having a great upline. Really being conscious of the organization that you’re joining and the people or the person who is your upline and who you will learn from and get advice.

I’ve been really fortunate to have people like Tom Dickson and Sherry Myers in Lansing, Mich., to Art Savage in Sacramento, Scott O’Neil when I was at the NBA, and now I have a great upline here in Ferran Soriano. Just really bright, strategic, analytical, creative leaders, marketers and managers.

The second is having great people in my teams, and this is certainly one of the things in terms of leadership that I focus on: building teams, building teams with great people.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed about working with City Football Group [is] just the personal and professional adventure of doing business in Shanghai, Tokyo, Melbourne, Jakarta, Paris, Los Angeles, New York. It’s the global aspect of being relevant and meeting people around the world.

Being able to reflect that in our team, including in terms of having people from so many cultural backgrounds, allows us to not only relate better, but to have better solutions.

What is happening around the sport of soccer in China is fascinating right now. There is a top-down commitment, an ambitious commitment, to the sport.

Everything that is being done in creating and distributing more content around the life of an athlete, a club or a sport is fascinating.

We’re always trying to think of ways to get things in the hands of the consumers, whether it’s someone taking a taxicab across town or the subway, or on a flight on their handheld.

Tend to still be a nut for a ballpark, so it’s always exciting to see the innovations when there are new stadiums, or in renovations like we’ve seen with the Dolphins and Patriots.

My recipe on the New York to Manchester or London flight is to eat at the airport. No dinner, no drinks, no movie and get your head right down. … Just be in denial about the jet lag.

Just had a few days down in the Outer Banks in North Carolina, so I got through a couple of rounds of golf and a couple of good books.

I enjoy a bit of running, and watching live sports, which allows me to switch off a bit. I get too wound up at our games.