What can exporters learn from the European Super League debacle and flop?

Football fans (and many others) across the world spent the 48 hours between Sunday 18th April and the following in amazement, anger and eventually relief and joy due to the announcement that some of the biggest football clubs in Europe have come together to run a breakaway Super League.

What can exporters learn from the European Super League debacle and flop?

The concept was to have a ‘closed’ league where these founder clubs (also known as the Dirty Dozen) could not be relegated and would have the lion’s share of the income. The multi-billion £ project was bankrolled by American superbank JP Morgan.
The announcement sent shockwaves throughout the world of sport – and it was universally condemned by players, managers, clubs, leagues, football authorities, pundits and even governments, royalty and prime ministers.

A key reason for this condemnation was that the League would be ringfenced for these founder clubs: a franchise model which is quite normal in the US.

So in this context, it is really interesting to note that the majority of these clubs’ owners, and the financial backer, are based outside Europe, mainly in the US.

One can probably claim that these people perhaps lack a clear understanding of and empathy with the ethos and culture of football in Europe (and the rest of the world) where promotion and relegation key parts of the sport. Where the dream that my little club can play and, indeed sometimes even beat your big club is so important. Romance, fantasy…? perhaps, but this such an important issue for football fans across the globe.

One can only wonder what these wealthy, clever owners were thinking the reaction to the Super League would be, as, obviously, they did not expect it to be so negative.
But, if you are sitting in an office 1000s miles away it probably difficult to really understand people and their culture across the Atlantic.

This leads me to what exporters can learn from this sorry saga:

  • You must bend to the culture that you are exporting to and NOT the other way around
  • You must learn, understand and respect the culture of the places that you are exporting to if you want to be successful. So, remember: Businesses with an ethnically diverse workforce are generally more successful exporters because they instinctively understand different cultures better
  • Use Google, visit, learn, go for walks, shop, talk to people and ‘listen to their lives

Learn and embrace the different countries’ languages, history and different cultures as that are key parts of successful export.

“Why can’t the Italians read English?
A few years ago I was sitting in a meeting with a production manager at a UK drink manufacturer, having secured a major order from an Italian supermarket chain.
So, I got the relevant section from the packaging translated into Italian and now we had to work out where on the packaging the Italian section should go, which would require a bit of work.
This was not particularly welcomed by the production manager who expressed a rather ‘colonial’ attitude towards those Italians, who wanted the relevant information in their own language!