Disappeared dignity of leading clubs, ‘management leadership’ missing together
The Korea Professional Football Federation 안전놀이터has created and is operating a training course for club management. The CEO Academy is for CEOs and managers. It is divided into two sessions of 10 hours each in the upper and second half of the year, with the purpose of ‘cultivating management insight’ and ‘strengthening leadership’. Roughly speaking, it means to develop professional team management skills. A normal person who does not understand English well might ask, ‘what is taught?’
Currently, CEOs of 23 clubs in the K-League 1 and 2 receive training at this academy. In the case of a corporate team, an executive who is about to retire from an affiliate or has a lot of interest in managing a sports team takes on the role of director or general manager. Pro baseball teams are also led by managers who are sent down by parachute from local governments, spoils from election victories, or recruited through outside public offerings.
What are you learning from the ‘CEO Academy’?
‘Professional team management’ has a different character and special aspect from the operation of general corporate affiliates or local governments. It is all the more so because Korean professional sports that shout ‘self-sufficiency’ are still struggling with not being able to make money, and they are still stuck with a ‘social contribution’ view of receiving and spending money without pursuing profit or purpose.
So, the professional federation properly educated leaders and created the CEO Academy for rational club management and continuity. In the past, many cases of ruining clubs and leaving were teachers on the other hand. Of course, with this education, some downgrade it to “a golfing club for a specific person” or “it’s like a social club.”
However, a good education can make a good CEO. Gwang-rae Cho, CEO of Daegu FC, who was widely known for playing the role of midwife at DGB Daegu Bank Park, a soccer-specific stadium, has been mentioned numerous times, and Gwang-guk Kim, general manager of Ulsan Hyundai, who is currently the leader among K-League CEOs, is enough to be representative.
When he took office in 2014, he was in charge of public relations at parent company Hyundai Heavy Industries. Amidst the difficulties of being the ‘2nd player’ and ‘2nd place in ten thousand years’, I waited and waited and tasted the K-League championship last year. Not only did the performance improve, but the rights enjoyed by fans, such as the sale of food and beverages at the home stadium Munsu Soccer Stadium, were well established. It’s okay to ask for self-evaluation from yourself. When asked to evaluate people around you, one person who wanted to remain anonymous said, “I think there are parts that I learned from the CEO Academy and applied well. It’s because things that couldn’t be solved in the past were solved sequentially.” said.
The ‘stadium outside the city with inconvenient transportation’ has changed to a ‘fan-friendly’ place that comes to them after a performance. In the A match against Colombia last March, general manager Kim led the club management around the outskirts of Munsu Soccer Stadium. It was to refer to the marketing of the Football Association. An official who was with Kim explained, “I came out on a patrol (?) to find out if the facilities built by the club were working well and what products were being sold.”
The growth and transformation of general manager Kim, who did not know much about professional team management and marketing, is an exemplary role. It is not for nothing that there are calls to learn from Director Kim here and there. Of course, it is true that Kim still has things to learn, such as recruiting players.
Unlike Ulsan, which has a good flow, some clubs continue to question whether the CEO has leadership. This is the case with Jeonbuk Hyundai and Suwon Samsung, where the players, the secretariat, and the CEO leadership all make a rupture with poor results.
In Jeonbuk, when CEO Byung-Gil Heo took office in November 2019, there was a concern over ‘Roof Sang-ok’ that his role overlapped with that of Director Seung-Kwon Baek. Usually, Jeonbuk’s representative director was the head of Hyundai Motor’s domestic sales division, and the head of the division was the leader of the secretariat. There was already a precedent in Suwon where the representative director position, which had been an honorary position after the resignation of former general manager Lee Seok-myeong, was changed to a full-time position, and work overlapped with the existing full-time manager, resulting in constant dissonance.
General manager Baek, who assisted CEO Huh, who led the team to the 2020 championship, resigned in April of last year for an unclear reason of poor performance. First of all, concerns about rooftop houses disappeared in the administration, but the aftertaste was not refreshing. The absence of General Manager Baek, who understood the hearts of the employees, soon led to controversy over CEO Huh’s lack of communication. It wasn’t that coach Kim Sang-sik didn’t listen to the request to recruit the players he wanted, but there were difficulties going through trial and error.
On the 5th, in this corner, a reporter said, ‘Jeonbuk Hyundai is getting sick… What about the prescription?’ After reporting the collapse of the club’s system through an article titled, CEO Heo called and protested that there was a misunderstanding.
Here’s what CEO Huh explained: “When I came to the club, I changed it to competitive bidding because all work was a private contract. In addition, the payment structure for employees went through the team leader-vice-head-head, so to simplify things, we changed it so that the working-level staff or division head reports directly to the CEO. There are cases where the same work has been done for a long time, so when I turned it into a rotational position system, some words came out. If the employee in question goes on vacation, who will fill the vacancy?” He introduced himself through the club as a marketing expert for Hyundai Motor Company, and since he has risen from a high position of executive director to vice president, it can be seen as CEO Heo’s management philosophy.
However, CEO Huh said that the level of work of his employees is far below his standards, saying, “Now it has risen by 30 to 40 percent.” He also did not hide the meaning that he once wanted to send him to a Hyundai Motor affiliate to learn another job. His intentions are good, but depending on what you hear, his words can be interpreted as ‘What will employees who grew up in a professional club do if they go to a group affiliate?’
Professional clubs have a lot of cooperation and collaboration projects with parent companies, local governments, and various related organizations, so the ability to ‘make a good product’, ‘become good at public relations and marketing’, ‘gather audiences’, ‘make a good product’, ‘promote publicity’ -The process is similar to Hyundai Motor’s sales, which are “good at sales” and “attract customers.” Only the texture is slightly different. Failure to reap the perception that club work is inefficient is the same as denying the very existence of professional sports.
CEO Heo, along with manager Kim Sang-shik, is being mentioned at the forefront of the fans’ resignation movement. I apologized once, but a follow-up solution is still not coming out. This is why the media and fans constantly point out that the CEO of a K-League leading club, who has been in his 5th year at least, needs to come up with a countermeasure in some way or show a determined appearance.
Conversely, Suwon, which is being criticized for saying, ‘Leave the front desk without ambition’, has no memory of the CEO or general manager notifying ‘what Suwon is doing’ to the outside world in recent years. It would have been nice if he had at least held a press conference and said, ‘The club is going in this direction’, but he doesn’t even show any signs of that. No Suwon fan knows that it is difficult to enjoy the glory of the past due to the transfer of the parent company from Samsung Electronics to Cheil Worldwide and difficult budget utilization.
Former coach Lee Byeong-geun, who was sacked for ‘sluggish performance’, appealed to a reporter during training in Jeju Island last February about difficulties in recruiting players. Usually, if there is a good player that the club is looking for and the need to recruit is felt, the manager informs the person concerned. Then, it is common for the CEO line to contact and decide whether or not to recruit the player after the report has been raised. It ends with a symbolic report to the head of the local government, the owner of the citizen team, or the head of the parent company.
However, the roof top appears here. Suwon has to go through Cheil Worldwide, the parent company, in the process of recruiting players. This is the part where director Lee was frustrated. Even if the club fails, if the review process of Cheil Worldwide does not go down, the desired player will be tempted by other clubs in the meantime. If the CEO or general manager had made an effort to understand and persuade the club to show its independence by fighting Cheil Worldwide officials, the director, the front-line commander, would not have felt frustrated.
There is a joke that if you are in the soccer world, you can understand that Suwon is not a club whose problems can be solved by changing the manager. Previously, both Imsaeng Lee and Geonha Park did not last long. Numerous cases in the past prove that acting coaches and players are united and overcome is old-fashioned, and that power declines after a certain period of time.
It showed itself that there is a limit to the youth system represented by Maetanjung and Go. This is why the answer to the question, ‘Where did the money earned by fostering Oh Hyun-kyu and selling it to Celtic go?’ is not easy to answer. Recruitment resources and internal training have to work like gears, but it is difficult to know what the CEO did in this process. If he didn’t know and left it to the frontline staff, he should bow his head at the point that he has more problems. Even if the club development plan is stored deep in the drawer, it is time to take it out and check it again.
The management leadership crisis of Jeonbuk-Suwon, one of the current leading clubs and past leading clubs, has great implications for the K-League and Korean football. As a foreign currency guest, the crowd always gathered at the beginning of the season, but at a certain point it dropped. Even if the leaders and players make a luxury game on the field and the employees publicize and market it, if the leader does not properly judge it, it will be the end. The clubs do not have to follow the misjudgment already shown by Chung Mong-gyu, the president of the Korea Football Association, who was criticized for trying to pardon the World Cup round of 16 as bait.
The Korea Professional Football Federation 안전놀이터has created and is operating a training course for club management. The CEO Academy is for CEOs and managers. It is divided into two sessions of 10 hours each in the upper and second half of the year, with the purpose of ‘cultivating management insight’ and ‘strengthening leadership’. Roughly speaking, it means to…