The latest edition of the Networking Arena took place in London at the beginning of February. A total of 136 individuals from leagues, clubs, and official partners, as well as collaborators of both the league and clubs, participated.

“This is a great opportunity to bring both the league’s and the clubs’ partners closer to football and discuss our most important issues together,” says Kaveh Sarvari, Event and Private Market Manager at Swedish Professional Football Leagues (SEF) and responsible for the Networking Arena.

The Networking Arena is an annual conference where stakeholders from clubs, leagues, and strategic partners of the clubs and leagues come together to share insights and experiences that make collaborations successful in the long term for all parties involved. Strategic partners include both businesses and the public sector.

For the third consecutive year, Swedish Women’s Elite Football League (EFD) was involved in the conference with their strategic partners. Additionally, the Swedish Football Association participated for the first time.

“This year, key figures from Swedish Women’s Elite Football League and the Swedish Football Association were with us. This was crucial for us to discuss our common challenges in elite football moving forward,” says Kaveh Sarvari.

A significant reason for holding the Networking Arena is that things happen when people meet, and between all the lectures and presentations, conversations, networking, and exchange of experiences occur among all participants.

“The Networking Arena is one of the highlights of the year because you know everything is well-organized and filled with interesting presentations. But above all, the networking, and spending time together over a whole weekend, is beneficial for gaining inspiration, energy, and building new relationships that hopefully lead to future collaborations,” says Andreas Andersson Åkerling, a partner at the Upplevelseinstitutet.

Participants were treated to a varied content of speakers consisting of Swedish Professional Football Leagues’s own staff but also representatives from clubs and partners as well as external corporate representatives from England. The theme for the days was unsurprisingly football and leadership.

The first day was devoted to current situations and future plans for Swedish Professional Football Leagues, the Swedish Football Association, and Swedish Women’s Elite Football League, mixed with panel discussions about each organization’s main challenges at present. Representatives from the Premier League visited and talked about the English league’s branding journey since the formation of the Premier League in the 1990s, and Enable participated to discuss research and experiences in safety and security within football.

“This is my third trip attending, and I think it evolves a lot each time. A lot of information has been gathered about what we can take home and implement. It’s been a fantastic journey. I’m here from a business perspective as a sponsor to the clubs in the Allsvenskan and to build networks and relationships, but also with the clubs’ partners to build collaborations moving forward. The conference has a well-organized program that I take a lot from. There are so many things to take home,” says Mathias Svensson, CEO of Effektiv and partner of IF Elfsborg.

Finally, IF Elfsborg’s partner Pulsen presented their so-called Pulse Staircase – an initiative for sustainable football, and Arsenal’s coach for the women’s team, Swedish Jonas Eidevall, talked about the development of women’s football in England.

“This is an appreciated journey by our partners, and it only gets better every year. The networking and exchange of experiences that take place during these days are invaluable. Personally, I think the format with panel discussions during the day is rewarding,” says Stina Jansson, Sales Manager for the Private Market at AIK.

The second day of the conference included discussions on future leadership and leading an organization through change, featuring British author and speaker Blaire Palmer, as well as the President of the Swedish Football Association, Fredrik Reinfeldt.

“As usual, it was very rewarding to meet and exchange experiences with colleagues from the other SEF clubs but also to network with both local and central partners of the clubs. It was especially enjoyable to meet EFD and their partners and listen to inspiring lectures. We take strengthened relationships and much inspiration home with us,” says Midhat Kuduzovic, participant from Helsingborgs IF.

The conference concluded with participants going to Stamford Bridge to watch the match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton in the Premier League.

Previous networking arenas have taken place in Barcelona (2018), Madrid (2019), Milan (2020), Berlin (2022), and Amsterdam (2023).