A total of 153 people from the leagues Allsvenskan and Superettan and their official partners as well as 21 out of the 32 member clubs and their partners gathered during two days in Amsterdam to be part of the Network Arena 2023. This means a new attendance record for this fifth edition of the network conference.
“I think we have developed the concept in a good way, people are committed, we learn from each other and there is an open dialogue to develop together. Least but not last we have fun together”, says Jan Karlsson, sales director at Swedish Professional Football Leagues.

The participants were able to take part in a varied content of lecturers consisting of Swedish Professional Football League’s own staff but also representatives from the club and partners as well as external company representatives from the Netherlands. AFC Ajax contributed greatly by solving practicalities on site and with a nice match arrangement at Johan Cruyff ArenA in connection with their match against FC Volendam.

“Our activities in football, both women’s and men’s, depend on us having an open dialogue with our stakeholders. In this case, our partners at both league and club level who meet, share experiences and feel good together and are involved in each other’s development, quite simply”, says Jan Karlsson.

The chairman of Swedish Professional Football Leagues Simon Åström and general secretary Mats Enquist took the word after Jan Karlsson opened the Network Arena 2023. The starting point was about the current situation and future of Swedish Professional Football Leagues. Afterwards, Niclas Janson, business development manager at Swedish Professional Football Leagues, talked about future scouting and visions regarding elite football business development, and gave an account of web 3.0 in a broad perspective.

After the coffee break and the networking dialogues, the OBOS CEO Daniel Kjörberg Sirai took the floor by talking about OBOS’ collaboration with sports – a sustainable success for both business and society. Afterwards, Alexander Axén expert commentator at Warner Bros. Discovery’s spoke about Dutch football in general and the upcoming game between AFC Ajax and FC Volendam in particular.

“Networking is incredibly important, it is how we can develop new ideas. Meeting like this is important both for the clubs and for us as sponsors”, says Daniel Kjörberg Sirai, Group CEO at OBOS.

“For OBOS, this journey started with our vision that we should build the society of the future while fulfilling housing dreams. And for us, football is a way into meeting people, being involved and building society from the ground.”

In the evening, the participants went to Ajax’s home stadium Johan Cruyff ArenA for dinner and the Eredivise match between AFC Ajax and FC Volendam. The match was preceded by a dinner where, among other things, representatives from the Dutch Eredivise took part, and a small panel discussion about Swedish and Dutch football signed by former great players in Ajax, Ronald de Boer and Stefan Pettersson, among others. In addition, Ajax club manager Edwin van der Sar stopped by to say hello.

Day two’s first lecture was about digital transformation. Edward Norg, operations director at Randstad Holland talked about how everything in today’s world only spins faster and faster and how it influences Randstad’s strategies.

Svante Samuelsson, sports manager at Swedish Professional Football Leagues and Stefan Pettersson, national team manager at the Swedish Football Association then talked about what it takes to become a future first team national team player in Sweden. The focus is on education and personal development.

“It is really inspiring and positive for us to participate in this context. Happily, this year we already have more partners and more clubs who are with us at the conference. I think there is a need to talk a lot about women’s football. Then we also have clubs where we have common interests, the so-called double clubs that have elite activities on both the women’s and men’s side”, believes Thomas Hoszek, general secretary of Women’s Elite Football (EFD), who also attended the conference.

Before the break, AFC Ajax continued on the same theme when Corné Groenendijk, responsible for the Ajax coaching academy, talked about how the club works to market their academy and how they collaborate with other clubs around the world.

After coffee and networking, it was time for Peter Knap, CEO of SELECT Group, to talk about the official league ball for the Allsvenskan and the Superettan, its history and future and the community involvement that SELECT has.

At the end Simon van Rooijen, project manager at the Cruyff foundation and Elisabeth Anderton, head of sustainability at IFK Göteborg, each made a presentation on sports for future generations. Simon talked about Johan Cruyff’s life’s work outside the football pitch and how the Cruyff foundation gets involved in the world. This was reinforced by Elisabeth talking about how IFK Göteborg works with so-called Cruyff courts out in the suburbs of Gothenburg.

“We have been attending the Network arena every year, of which I myself have been there for the last two years. It’s a great opportunity to meet other clubs, other clubs’ partners and not least to bring your own partners to a nice conference with good content”, says Sebastian Lagrell, club manager in Jönköping Södra IF, and continues.

“The lecturers are top class and I have a generally good impression of the whole concept. We will continue to attend the Network Arena and bring even more partners to welcome them into this community as well.”

The last evening was then devoted to individual dinners for the clubs and leagues and their partners.

The network arena will continue in 2024, at that time in London.

All the photos from this year’s Network Arena could be seen here.