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image of poster for Euro 24 in Munich | accounitngweb | Tournament Footy and Management Accounting
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Bringing management accounting goals into play

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Taking some time off from watching the football, Makbul Patel takes a look at the position management accounting plays in the successful planning of a Euro football tournament.

3rd Jul 2024
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You might have thought I would never find a way to squeeze UEFA Euro 2024 in as an accounting topic, but behold my shoehorn.

May I join the many dispirited voices bemoaning the sheer anticlimactic England opening games. Hopefully by the time this article hits the online presses there will have been more to cheer about. Anyway, I digress. Let me don my management accounting hat and discuss the role management accountancy plays in tournament football.

Management accounting and the organisation of a Euro football tournament intersect in several significant ways. Management accounting principles can be applied to planning, managing and evaluating a major sporting event like a European football tournament.

Budgeting and financial planning

Revenue estimation

Although UEFA will not like to admit this, maximising revenue will be number one on its target list. Football is all about money, and there is lots of loose change jingling in people’s pockets that can make its way into the organiser’s pockets in various ways.

Ticket sales Estimating revenues from ticket sales for all matches, considering different stages of the tournament and stadium capacities, is the first management accounting task. UEFA estimates ticket sales to be in excess of €150m.

Broadcasting rights Next up is negotiating and estimating income from selling broadcasting rights to various television and streaming platforms. The BBC and ITV will have paid a fair wedge to get their respective broadcasting rights. According to UEFA, media rights for the Euros will be far in excess of the previous tournament which stands at €1.135bn.

Sponsorships Then there’s identifying potential sponsors and forecasting sponsorship revenues. This tournament has seen the entry of some big hitters from the Far East. They will have paid eye-watering amounts for the limelight. There’s also the usual sugary drinks and gambling associations, which I have never understood.

Merchandising Lastly there’s estimating revenues from official merchandise sales, including jerseys, memorabilia and other branded products. This figure will be dwarfed by sponsorship and the media revenue.

Cost estimation

On the flip side of course there are the outgoings and, like any well-greased corporation, UEFA will like to keep a firm grip on this.

Stadium hire and maintenance These are the costs associated with renting stadiums, including maintenance and security. This is what the credibility of the organisers hinges on. It is the most public face of the tournament and glitches in this will surely make headlines.

Team and staff expenses Travel, accommodation and other logistics for participating teams and officials is the second tier of the cost outlay.

Marketing and promotion Expenses for promoting the tournament through various media channels are high. Those billboards and adverts don’t come cheap.

Event management Lastly there are the costs of organising events, ceremonies and fan zones. Naturally the razzmatazz of the tournament has to flow beyond the confines of the stadium itself. It’s a festival of football!

Cost control and management

In the end, UEFA has to be run as a business. A beady eye on the management of its finances is crucial to make the tournament viable and sustainable. If costs are categorised it will lead to a much more efficient management and control.

Operational costs

Variable costs These are costs that vary with the scale of the tournament, such as catering and utilities. There are some who would lump staffing costs as variable but in my opinion this cost will remain fixed with possibly a small element as variable, such as stewarding depending on the attendance and complexities of the game.

Fixed costs Costs that remain constant regardless of the number of attendees, include stadium rental, matchday staffing and administrative salaries.

Cost allocation

Direct costs These are costs that can be directly attributed to specific matches or events, like matchday operations.

Indirect costs Overhead costs that are spread across multiple matches or activities, such as general administrative expenses are indirect costs.

Performance measurement

Financial performance

Profitability analysis Actual revenues and costs are compared to budgeted figures to assess financial performance. There are some international events such as the Olympics where the cost burden is on the host country. Many have questioned the financial viability of such events.

Return on investment (ROI) Next is evaluating the financial return on the investments made in organising the tournament. The return also has to be measured on intangibles such as benefit to grassroots opportunities and a contribution to the general wellbeing of the population.

Non-financial performance

Attendance figures Tracking the number of attendees at each match to assess popularity and engagement needs to be done. The Euros in my humble opinion is the third-most-popular international sporting event, after the World Cup and Olympics, in that order. Attendance is nearly always full to capacity.

Media coverage Next is measuring the extent and impact of media coverage to evaluate the tournament’s reach and public interest.

Sponsorship activation Lastly there’s assessing the effectiveness of sponsorships in terms of brand visibility and engagement.

Risk management

Financial risks

Sporting events are of course mired with risks. The management accountant also has to probe these areas and perform stress tests if things don’t go according to plan or expectation. Risks can be in the following broad areas.

Revenue shortfalls The risk of lower-than-expected ticket sales or sponsorship revenues through contingency planning should be mitigated.

Cost overruns Implement controls to avoid exceeding budgeted costs, with regular monitoring and reporting.

Operational risks 

The show must happen. Infrastructure must be in place for transport, accommodation and health and safety.

Event disruptions Planning must happen for potential disruptions, such as security incidents or adverse weather, and contingency plans should be in place.

Compliance risks Compliance with all relevant regulations, including those related to safety, broadcasting and commerce should be ensured. Broadly speaking, all of Europe has identical laws and legislation, which makes operations management easier.

Decision-making support

Strategic decisions are crucial to the tournament being a success.

Venue selection Use cost-benefit analysis to choose the most suitable locations for matches, balancing costs with potential revenues and strategic benefits.

Scheduling Plan match schedules to maximise attendance and viewership, considering factors like local holidays and competing events. In 2024 there is also the Paris Olympics so that’s was a big clash to avoid.

Operational decisions

Resource allocation This is allocating resources effectively across different aspects of the tournament, such as marketing, operations and logistics.

Pricing strategies Tticket prices and merchandise prices should be set to maximise revenues while ensuring accessibility and affordability for fans. UEFA has been keen to point out there are several tickets for the games that have been priced at €30 and then at €60. Having said that, the demand will have far outstripped supply.

 

In summary, management accounting plays a crucial role in the successful planning and execution of a Euro football tournament by providing a framework for financial planning, cost control, performance measurement, risk management and informed decision-making. I would certainly like to be in their financial controller’s shoes to experience the sheer breadth and complexities of holding such an event.

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