Domingos Soares de Oliveira was one of the speakers in the conference promoted by the European Clubs Association (ECA) in Split, on April 10 and 11. In an interview with BTV, the CEO of Sport Lisboa and Benfica (and a member of the Executive Board of the ECA) explained the main theme of the reflection and sharing of experiences in Croatia, before analyzing the other current sports themes.
“It was a conference organized by the European Club Association (ECA) jointly with Hajduk Split and aimed at discussing an increasingly unusual model in Europe, which is that of clubs that are still owned by members. The trend is for more and more private shareholders. This is the regular model in England and in France, but then there are specific situations, such as the case of Portugal, Spain (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Osasuna and Atletico Bilbao), some Italian clubs and the rest of Europe. This model is different from the management point of view. The objective of ECA and Hajduk Split, a club with which we have had a privileged relationship, was to promote the debate of the model and share the various experiences. The case of Benfica is considered different: continuing to be owned by members, the Club, throughout the 21st century, created a set of subsidiaries companies, companies owned by Benfica, that allow a mixed management, "said Domingos Soares de Oliveira.
In the case of a club such as Benfica, the club members can hinder the management of the SAD?
No, not at all. They make the management of the Club and of the various companies more demanding because in the end, the members feel they own the Club, and rightly so, in contrast to what happens in other models. And because they feel they own the Club and each member is a person, everyone has an opinion and everyone has a right to a concrete explanation about what we do. They all hold us to account and evaluate us for what we do. In this context, we need to communicate more, explain the options we take from the management point of view. When one talks about the shareholders of the big English clubs, one realizes that one of the great preoccupations that they have is with the profitability of the club. In the case of our club members, the biggest concern is sporting success, combined with sustainability, but not with profitability. No member is waiting for the Club to distribute dividends, because that is not their driving force.
"WE WILL FOSTER THE COMMUNICATION WITH OUR FANS"
All the clubs present in the conference talked about rendering accounts to the club members?
The idea is that, by nature, members are demanding people in all cases. We had references from Barcelona, Atletico Bilbao also explained, Hajduk Split itself, and we feel this concern with the stakeholder, the final recipient. That is, what we do, we do it for the members, not for a shareholder looking for profitability or the valuation of the investment that he made. The concern to satisfy the member is common.
Changing the subject: Benfica was once again the only Portuguese club in the top 30 with more communication in the social networks. Is this a bet to maintain?
Clearly. In the scope of the digital project, we believe that there is a transformation that has been going on for some years in the relationship that the Club has with its fans. Today, communication is essentially digital. In the project we started about two years ago, we made a great effort to make our communication more attractive, understanding that if at one point YouTube was the best tool, today it could be Twitter, which produces much more impact. The communication for a 15/16/17-year-old young person is not the same communication for a man that is between 30 and 40 years, and it will be different for a man that is 60. We have a different communication for each of these targets and we will promote it.
"WHAT WE DO, WE DO IT FOR THE MEMBERS"
The 2018 edition of the International Champions Cup was presented on Tuesday and Benfica was once again invited. It is indeed the only club from the Top 5 European leagues. What does this new invitation mean?
The company with which we have been working in recent years, and that organizes the ICC, recognizes the value of Benfica and knows that every time it is present, especially in the American market, it manages to attract a different audience, who live their passion for the Club in a very intense way.
The first match is against Sevilla and will be held in Zurich, in Switzerland…
This game was worked to respect our pre-season goals. We could not do all three games on the American market. By their will, we would be there every year. We were there in 2015, we are returning now in the summer. There is an issue here that has to do with the beginning of the official competition in Portugal. We have tried to make it at least a week after August 4 to give Benfica more visibility in international markets. The start of the season in other countries comes later. We have tried to persuade the Federation to adapt our calendar. So far it has not been possible
"BENFICA ATTRACTS A DIFFERENT PUBLIC, WITH PASSION"
The end of the 2017/18 season is approaching and Benfica does not just depend on themselves to be a champion. Do you believe in the Fifth consecutive league title?
I believe and all Benfiquistas must believe. What I conveyed in our internal communication was that we must do our job. We must work to win the next four games and then, in the end, we will see what our opponents did. If we can have a good final stretch, I believe we will be rewarded, knowing that we do not have our fate in our hands, but also knowing that Benfica deserves this Fifth league title in a row.
Text: João Sanches
Pics: Archive / SL Benfica