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We live and work in exciting times - revolutionary times. Technology continues to recast the media industry.

The extraordinary advance of affordable personal digital technology and the stellar rise of social networks are both distrupting and transforming the media market making this a unique moment to be involved in the convergence sectors we focus on.

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Wednesday, 24 October 2007

When normal commercial logic is ignored

Our regular readers will have noticed that we comment on a wide range of issues across the broad media landscape. Football isn't usually one of them, but there is a great example of how not to run a business, currently in a death spiral up in the picturesque countryside around the M1/M6 triangle, that we in Market Evolution Towers are following with keen interest.

Coventry City Football Club, former top division stalwarts and FA Cup winners, have spent the last 5 seasons out of the money generating Premiership, languishing in mid table obscurity in the Championship. For those among us with an unhealthy obsession with all things sky-blue, this has been a bad thing to happen.

Only it's got worse. Much, much worse. And now, there's a great example of a brand treating its customers with complete disdain. The Board of Directors over the past 8 years seem to have taken an interesting and innovative approach to business management, reminiscent of Icarus, but without any obvious warmth being apparent from flying close to the Sun.

With £34m debts, having sold one stadium and lost any control over the new one, minimal revenue streams, and a monthly cash burn that would make boo.com hide behind the sofa, things are looking very very grim at the Ricoh Arena. It appears that money was gambled on the playing field, on the assumption that a takeover would magically appear if the players failed to reached the promised land of a season in the Premiership. However, it's not happened, bills have not been paid, the Inland Revenue is owed money, the FA have placed a transfer embargo on the club for failing to pay agreed transfer fees, the Acting Chairman has returned to his consituency, and the MD has fallen on his sword. As Oliver Hardy would have said "That's another fine mess you've got us into".

So, why is this of any interest? From a media perspective, this is exactly the situation where a local paper, in a 1 club city, can provide a focus, whip up support and generally shout loudly about finding out the truth, "where has the money gone", "who authorised that decision" "who forgot the basic rules of financial management" - the difficult questions that someone needs to ask and get the answers. The Coventry (Evening as was) Telegraph has the opportunity to stand tall, excel at investigative journalism, and unite the emotional supporters back with their brand, and sell more newspapers at the same time.

I wonder why they haven't to date? Sports sells papers, local football sells even more. Carpe Diem Mr Editor, before administration, liquidation, and away trips to Keswick Town are on the schedule.

Football post over, back to the less emotional world of business and media tomorrow.

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