The fourth edition of the Network Arena broke a new participant record. The insight is that the relationship and benefit of the collaborations between the clubs, the leagues and its strategic partners has been strengthened, at both club and league level.
“The feeling is that all stakeholders in the Network Arena have seen and experienced the benefits of the platform and the concept. The clubs see the benefit of offering their partners the opportunity to network with other partners and be able to exchange experiences on how to make the best use of their partnership. In addition, we all have a very nice time together”, says Jan Karlsson, sales director at Swedish Professional Football Leagues.
A total of just over 140 people gathered in Berlin for two days with meetings together with representatives from Swedish Professional Football Leagues, the partners of Allsvenskan and Superettan, representatives from 15 clubs and their strategic partners. During this year’s conference, Elitfotboll Dam was also involved together with clubs and strategic partners.
The latest Network Arena before Berlin was launched in Milan in 2020, after which the pandemic put an end to more conferences, until now.
“It is extremely inspiring to meet everyone again after the pandemic. We have all longed for it to meat each other in real life. We have had an exciting and varied program and it has been incredibly stimulating to meet here in the middle of Berlin”, says Jan Karlsson.
During the conference, lectures were mixed with inspirational speeches as well as with networking. Among other things, Swedish Professional Football Leagues informed how the league works centrally to increase the value of Allsvenskan and Superettan and how the organization has grown over the years and how the league interact with the clubs.
Another topic at the Network Arena was sustainability and the interaction between elite football in Sweden and the public sector. Football is a strong social force that is good for everyone, both regions and municipalities.
“It is of great joy to be here in Berlin as the main partner of Swedish elite football, and to meet all the other partners. We have a good dialogue with the league and the clubs, but there are many local partners represented that we do not know since before. Here you really get to see the value of what football does for society and that is a big part of why we think it is so fun to work with football, to be able to be involved and influence society and also have an opportunity to reach out to our core target group”, says Philip Lagström, Country Manager Sweden at Unibet.
Anna Bellman, communication expert, talked about the importance of being clear and that many misunderstandings arise through different expectations and inadequate communication. The former referee Jonas Eriksson talked to the participants about leadership on and off the pitch.
“It was a very rewarding day for us and our partners. The feeling is that elite football in Sweden has taken great steps forward during the recent years and that the future is pointed out in a good way. It feels good to be able to show that development to all partners while also creating new contact surfaces between football and business representatives”, says Louise Karlsson, board member of BK Häcken.
Martin Carlsson Wall and Sofie Sagfossen from Handelshögskolan Centre for Sports and Business spoke to the audience. Martin Carlsson Wall spoke together with Daniel Beiderbeck from Borussia Dortmund about strategic club development in an international perspective. Sofie Sagfossen together with Martin Pohl from Hertha Berlin raised the topic of fan experiences and match arrangements.
“The great benefit of the Network Arena is new angles, new people and new experiences together that result in new contacts that we can use for learning, but of course also in our own commercial development going forward”, says Johan Henningsson, director of sales, Nordic Choice and continues.
“There are very many differences between the clubs in how they act and cooperate with their partners, which I take home with me as a lesson. Because we have similarities in our world between us as Nordic Choice and our hotels that also operate in different markets with different conditions, but still with a common goal in mind”.
The last conference sessions were devoted to the sport. Patrik Andersson, former national team player and international player in clubs such as Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona, spoke about his football career and his way current carrier within the sports industry.
“I think it’s fantastic that we all gathered here. What we are doing is so much more than just football. It is also about new acquaintances, partnerships and making a difference in society. We as a partner of IFK Värnamo are happy to see how Swedish elite football works together for all our best”, says Bengt Liljedahl, CEO of Liljedahl Group.
In conclusion, the participants in the Network Arena witnessed the match Germany – England in the UEFA Nations League together. The match was talked about by Alexander Axén and Marcus Allbäck, both on site in Berlin.
Next year’s Network Arena is to be located in Amsterdam.