In between a new football season and the first international football break in September was the Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester, England which held from September 4th to 6th 2017. The strategic timing of the event ensured that key stakeholders attended this historic event – for the last time in Manchester after 4 years with a new location set in Doha, Qatar for 4 more years. It was well attended by club managers and executives, members of press, league managers, sports lawyers, new media executives, broadcasters, former footballers and not forgetting my humble self.
Whilst Manchester has a weather less predictable than London, the Soccerex Global Convention (SGC) is still one of the best attended, industry leading conference and exhibition in football. I’ve gathered this much from people who continue to show up at the event across the globe, at different venues and different cities. The turnout supports the claim.
Some of the biggest names in attendance include Edwin Van der Sar, Juan Mata, Wim Jonk, Jordi Cryuff, Kolo Toure, David Dein and Juliano Belletti addressing the hottest topics in football. Now in its 20th year, SGC is primarily 3 break-away sessions anchored by a TV personality, with a different panel on each day sharing expert opinion on the latest topics in innovation, regulation, technology, athlete performance, player transfer, fan engagement and much more. The audience was equally diverse, many travelled from North America, South America, Asia, Europe, Africa, with a few like me from Nigeria who made up the numbers on several wet, dingy yet eventful days.
Soccerex was technology heavy. It focused on the latest development in almost all the areas of football chain such as broadcasting, fan engagement, stadium management, athlete performance. Audiences were enthralled by the quality of the speakers and the conversations that ensued after each session. To my mind, people attend conferences with the desire to “network” yet unsure about what to expect. However, if networking, industry insight and football business is what you desire then Soccerex fits right in. The debates are testament to the energy in each room – to seek and transfer knowledge and where football never lacks a great topic for debate such topics covered the propriety of Neymar Jnr. transfer to PSG and Kylian Mbappe which on the face of it appeared to have violated UEFA’s financial fair play (FFP) regulation, overdue payments of footballers, Asian domination of European football ownership, e-sport revolution, VR technology and social media’s impact on football consumption.
Having experienced this first-class football conference myself, and seeing the overall benefits for the City of Manchester; aside its two football clubs of course – the Department of Trade exhibited at the stands, I began to ponder if and why Nigeria should have a Soccerex in Lagos State for 4 years. I’ll do the numbers in basic arithmetic to consider the economic benefits, based on my experience and some data from the convention. The attendees list appeared thus:
- 2900 + attendees – 1000 + from football clubs, leagues and federations
- 140 + Exhibitors –
- 20 + event partners
(+ means that numbers are well over amount)
Assuming the price for each delegate registration was £ 400 or there about, multiplied by 2900 participants is £1,160,000 (One Million, One Hundred and Sixty Thousand Pounds). Now I also assume all the exhibitors paid £ 5,000 multiplied by 140 is £700, 000. Let’s not forget the partner contribution; in-kind or cash, it is still measurable service.
Travel, accommodation and lifestyle of 2900 participants for 3 days using myself as example would look like this:
- Accommodation – £700 (3 nights)
- Food – £100
- Drinks – £ 50
- Flights – £ 3, 200
- Lifestyle – £ 200
Total spend 4, 250. Yet many spent more.
Assuming tax is 20%, the government makes £850 from me alone. Remember my cost is truly conservative because some heavy weights at the event surely spent more but I’ll use this “basic” figure nevertheless. That is £2,500,000 (Two Million, Five Hundred Thousand Pounds) on attendance alone. You get the picture?
A strong case could be made of the fact that the host always pays a substantial fee for the rights to the event nonetheless, the economic and social benefits overwhelm the price. South Africa hosted the Global Convention for 3 years (2007 – 2009) leading to the World Cup. Upon realising the positive experience of the event, an African Edition was hosted in from 2012 – 2014 during the Africa Cup of Nations its hosted in 2013. International global agencies and suppliers are now present in South Africa pursuant to these events and this is part of the tangible legacies visible. Soccerex surveys reveal that 90% of respondents believe the event one way or the other helped them reach conclusive agreements they could not have otherwise done on their own.
A city like Lagos, which hosted a Soccerex Seminar in 2012 (powered by Integral Sponsorship and Experiential Marketing) can host a Global Convention or an African Edition at the very least. Even though Ghana will host a Seminar, the size of Lagos and its economic potential; over 21 million residents and a GDP of over $100 billion, translates to victory not only for Nigeria and West Africa but the rest of Africa if we do the right thing. And the time could not be better.
The Governor of Lagos State is an advocate of sport for social and economic transformation and his goal is to make Lagos a destination for international sport and business. Plans are underway to renovate many stadia to international standard for the greater good of society. And since Nigeria is only the second largest exporter of footballers after Brazil, the conversation must now be taken more seriously.