The first meeting with the new Executive Development Programme of European League called ELEVATE was held in Nyon, Switzerland. On the agenda was among other things knowledge exchange between the various leagues in Europe as well as discussion of current challenges in football.
“It was a fantastic good start of the programme. Most of all I got to know new colleagues from the other European football leagues. This could be of great use for us in the future. I am going back home full of inspiration”, says Robert Johansson, Head of Communications at Swedish Professional Football Leagues and the representative of Sweden at ELEVATE.
In Nyon, halfway between Geneva and Lausanne in Switzerland, the first three days of ELEVATE were devoted to getting to know the participants and their leagues, as well as to study visits and guest lectures. Current topics such as the increasing electricity prices and other things in society that affect football were discussed from the different league perspectives. The first evening ended with a guest lecture from the Swiss Hockey League and the game between Fribourg-Gottéron and SC Rapperswill-Jona Lakers in the Swiss Hockey League.
“The programme aims to give participants the tools, skills and knowledge required to work at the highest levels of football league management. It has been specifically designed from the perspective of managing a league and for leaders and managers who are looking to further understand the current and future trends impacting the professional football industry and to broaden their personal professional network”, says Chris Gerstle, Head of Business Development & Knowledge Centre at European Leagues and responsible for ELEVATE.
“I like that we got to experience something else than football. A hockey event is at the same time both similar and different to our product, but the organization’s way of working is largely the same. There can be things to learn from a lot of things outside the pitch”, says Robert Johansson.
ELEVATE is carried out on a total of seven occasions. A total of four physical meetings will be held around Europe between September 2022 and March 2023, as well as three digital meetings. A total of 21 people from as many European leagues participate in this first ELEVATE. The list of participants for ELEVATE includes everything from CEO:s to communication managers to marketing managers in the leagues in Europe. The programme is very much about the exchange of experience between the different countries and leagues.
The participants spent day two at UEFA’s headquarters, where UEFA talked about competition balance, nationally and internationally, as well as supporter cooperation, among other things. In the afternoon, the Swiss Football League talked about its work during a session at the European League’s headquarters.
“It is interesting to see how a few leagues in Europe are considering changing their own league format. For example, by reducing or expanding the number of clubs in the league, or introducing continuation series or playoffs. At the moment Sweden is not in any such phase, but it is good to get other perspectives”, Robert Johansson believes.
The last and concluding day was devoted to a workshop on ticket sales, data collection and personalized communication.
“Each league had to present their prioritized work areas and how these are useful for their member clubs. We also looked into the future and discussed how we could continue to enhance the football experience from the sidelines by taking advantage of technological developments, without for that matter ruin the sport of football. I look forward to future meetings with the network. This is going to end up really good”, concludes Robert Johansson.
“Of course I was very excited about the first version of ELEVATE and had high expectations. These high expectations were even exceeded by the excellent organization of the European Leagues. Several interesting guest speakers and excursions and all the interesting colleagues from Europe have already made me look forward to the next session”, says Johannes Schmied, Club Licensing Manager at the Austrian Bundesliga and participant at ELEVATE.
The next meeting with ELEVATE will take place digitally during the month of October. The next physical meeting with ELEVATE will take place in Madrid in November with fan engagement on the agenda.
European Leagues grew strong under the name European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL). The organization was formed in 2005 from the predecessor EUPPFL (Association of European Union Premier Professional Football Leagues) and has its base in Nyon in Switzerland. European Leagues is an umbrella organization for its members – 36 football leagues in Europe in 29 countries, including the Allsvenskan and the Superettan – and for, among other things, their claims against UEFA and FIFA.
The Swede Lars-Christer Olsson is honorary chairman of the European Leagues and Swedish Professional Football Leagues current CEO Mats Enquist sits on the board of the European Leagues.
European Leagues wants to be a strong common voice for all football leagues in Europe.
Participating top leagues at ELEVATE:
Austria – Österreichische Fußball/Bundesliga
Belgium – Pro League
Czech Republic – Ligov á Fotblov á Asociace
Denmark – Divisionsforeningen
England – Premier League and English Football League
Spain – LaLiga
Germany – Deutsche Fussball Liga GmbH
Italy – Lega Serie A and Lega Pro
Netherlands – Eredivise
Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland Football League
Poland – Polish Professional Football League
Slovakia – Unia ligov ych klubov
Switzerland – Swiss Football League
Finland – Finnish Football League Association
Ireland – League of Ireland
Iceland – Íslenskur Topfótbolti
Latvia – Futbola Virsliga
Norway – Norsk Toppfotball
Sweden – Swedish Professional Football Leagues