The State of Corporate Communications and Marketing in Spanish Professional Sports Clubs: Facing Challenges to Achieve Excellence

The State of Corporate Communications and Marketing in Spanish Professional Sports Clubs: Facing Challenges to Achieve Excellence

Guillermo Sanahuja Peris (Jaume I University, Spain) and Rocío Blay Arráez (Jaume I University, Spain)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5994-0.ch011


This chapter presents a novel diagnosis of the state of corporate communications and marketing in Spanish professional sports clubs. One by one, it aims to outline the challenges that this sector must meet if it is to evolve and attain excellence, understood as achieving positive recognition by the various interest groups involved and generating greater revenue. The methodology used is a combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques applied to a sample group made up of the 56 sporting bodies that form the Professional Football League (LFP) and the Association of Basketball Clubs (ACB). On ending this chapter, the authors conclude that Spanish sporting bodies maintain an evident conceptual immaturity, a mistrust of the corporate communications philosophy, and a way of working focused on the short term. As regards the challenges ahead, the authors identify 5 mechanisms designed to advance toward the goal of excellent performance.
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1. Introduction

Spanish academia has traditionally kept its distance from what happens on the pitch and what takes place in the adjoining offices. At present, this distance is ever smaller. The dawn of the twenty-first century has brought an unprecedented and exponential development of sporting organizations in Spanish territory. Likewise, in recent years there has been an advance in scientific knowledge at the intersection between media, sports and marketing. This progress is observable primarily via five avenues: undergraduate degrees in physical education; master's degrees in management of sporting organizations and of online forums; and finally specialized research institutes and the efforts in aid of outreach made by some authors in the generic field of sports management – or, in a narrower sense, sports communications and marketing. However, there is no study covering the practice of communications and marketing in professional sport as a whole.

The development and growth of the Spanish professional sports industry we alluded to has not come to an end. Sports organization management still lags a considerable distance behind, in terms of knowledge and the use of tools, when compared to their equivalents in the private sector. Previous research on the subject of study, like that of Arceo (2003: 27), confirms that “the contemporary concept of public relations has not caught on, neither in the intellectual sphere, nor as a solution to specific problems, in a sector that produces significant economic returns and social implications: football clubs have a departmental structure in communications and PR, whose model is the press agent. There is a lack of tradition in the sector. The problem is rooted in the lack of educational elements necessary in order to attain best working practice in this particular sector.” Therefore, past research offers us reasons to contribute knowledge to a steadily growing sector.

There is one last reason for interest in studying this area, which lies in the growing contradiction within Spanish club ownership and the need for two-way communication processes in order to achieve balance. Sporting bodies, in most cases considered representatives of the defining characteristics of a given locality, go through a process of denaturalization when they become corporations [sociedades anónimas deportivas or SAD in Spanish]. This ‘glocal’ contradiction typical of SADs can be alleviated by means of an excellent management of corporate communications that would prevent their publics [communities of people at large that have a direct or indirect association with an organization] from losing their identification.

In any case, the main aims of this study were as follows:

  • To present the state of professional practice in professional sports corporate communications and marketing.

  • To explore existing documentary knowledge on questions pertaining to communication, sport and marketing, from several academic and geographical perspectives.

  • To assist in the transformation of Spanish professional sport with the help of new managerial models aimed at excellence.

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