UEFA GROWing football around Spain and Europe

The third UEFA GROW Conference is taking place in Madrid from 30–31 October, with all 55 national associations gathering to discuss business development in football.

©Sportsfile

Madrid is a fitting setting for the UEFA GROW programme, which is holding its annual conference in the Spanish capital from 30–31 October.

It was as recently as 2018 that the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) joined the programme which aims to systematically and strategically grow European football in all its forms, including women’s, men’s and youth, by inspiring and collaborating with UEFA's national associations to ensure they fully maximise their potential on and off the pitch.

The RFEF's particular focus in its relationship with UEFA GROW is on enhancing performance in the areas of engagement, commercial and participation – and UEFA national associations director Zoran Laković is "delighted" with how the programme has been assisting national associations across the continent. 

"UEFA GROW is our central business development support programme to nurture football across Europe and we are delighted to hold our annual conference in Spain," said Laković. "UEFA GROW offers tailor-made consultation services to national associations in the areas most relevant for football organisations, from building a better image of football, to increasing revenue opportunities and getting more people to play our beautiful game."

The UEFA GROW programme was launched in 2015 to promote and develop football around Europe – always a key concern for UEFA and its 55 national associations – and this third annual conference will give associations the opportunity to meet and exchange best practices. Professionals from the fields of football and business development will be on hand to lend their expertise as UEFA endeavours to safeguard the game's long-term good health.

How has UEFA GROW been implemented Spain?

UEFA GROW was introduced four years ago following a thorough review of the European football landscape as well as analysis of statistics and industry trends. While football is the most-followed sport in the majority of Europe, the review showed up areas with room for improvement, such as working to increase participation rates and revenues in certain markets. 

For decades, Spain has had a youth development system that's the envy of world football. Countless players have graduated from national youth teams and gone on to have successful careers with club and country.

To ensure that football in Spain stays one step ahead, the RFEF in cooperation with UEFA GROW has created a strategic plan to further develop football at national and regional levels.

The idea is to use a synergy of international and national expertise as well as knowledge about local markets to put together robust plans for the Spanish game's continued development. This way, the regional federations will be able to move forward in all sectors, including increased participation levels and an ongoing positive engagement with local people.

Spain have a great history of success at UEFA youth tournaments
Spain have a great history of success at UEFA youth tournaments©Sportsfile

“The UEFA GROW programme has helped the Royal Spanish Football Federation in many different areas,” said the President of the RFEF, Luis Rubiales. 

“We can see a positive impact from this collaboration thanks to the strategic and systematic approach it is based on. The strategic plan will be a big milestone for the RFEF and for Spanish football and we are delighted we can benefit from UEFA’s expertise in this field.”

How does UEFA GROW work and what support do national associations get?

The mission of UEFA GROW is both to lead and to support the growth of football throughout Europe. This is achieved by using fact-based research, market intelligence and industry experts to build strategic plans for growing the game.

UEFA GROW focuses on providing individual assistance to each national association through a series of workshops, development of strategies in various areas, and additional follow-up support. The workshops are always tailored to meet the respective federation's needs and take into account local market challenges.
The four main growth areas and the respective benefits for national associations are as follows:

UEFA GROW offers national associations support over a number of different areas
UEFA GROW offers national associations support over a number of different areas©UEFA.com

• Image: UEFA gives national associations access to independent research looking into the current state of football in their respective markets. This data covers a number of topics, including the general popularity of the sport, the perception of the various national teams, and the image of the governing body itself. This independent review forms the basis for setting up an action plan to address the issues identified through research. 

• Participation: Following a thorough review of existing data, UEFA GROW supports the national association in drafting a growth plan for participation and retention, which includes the definition of clear yearly targets for different age categories for both men's and women's football.

• Engagement: All national associations nowadays use digital channels and social media to communicate with their football families. Under the engagement pillar, UEFA GROW helps associations to develop a universal digital marketing and FRM (Football Relationship Management) strategy with clearly defined targets for reach, engagement and other metrics.

UEFA GROW is UEFA's central business development platform for its national associations
UEFA GROW is UEFA's central business development platform for its national associations©UEFA

• Revenues: National associations need sufficient funds in order to invest in football development and thus be able to grow the game. UEFA GROW assists the federations in establishing a clear commercial strategy and five-year commercial plan with key performance indicators and timings to develop all areas of the commercial revenue wheel. 

All of UEFA GROW's pillars are intrinsically linked. If an association has a good reputation in its respective country, more people are likely to play, attend or watch the sport. Ultimately this could lead to increased revenue possibilities and digital engagement opportunities.

Following discussions with the national associations, it became clear that UEFA GROW could offer assistance and expertise in other areas of football development. Thus the the scope and level of support is constantly evolving, and new pillars of support are emerging, in order to address areas such as strategic planning, public affairs, insights, information technology, brand management and how associations communicate with their respective audiences at all levels.

UEFA GROW is now the central business development platform for national associations to grow the game – and the coming years promise to be an exciting and positive time for all associations that have adopted or are looking to join UEFA GROW with the goal of making the game even stronger across Europe.

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