Last November the eyes of the United States Soccer public were trained on the GotSoccer Winter Convention in Jacksonville, Florida which featured the U.S. Soccer Presidential Candidates Forum.
With the event live streamed, interested parties across the country heard priorities and solutions to the problems facing U.S. Soccer from just about all of the candidates.
The question for this year then, with no election on the cards, was what to do for an encore?
Well, GotSoccer has put together a top-notch list of speakers from all areas of American soccer and beyond for the 10th Annual GotSoccer Winter Convention including our host, GotSoccer CEO Gavin Owen-Thomas.
Then there is Eric Wynalda, the former U.S. Men’s National Team great, former candidate for President of U.S. Soccer, and recently announced Coach and Technical Director of USL club the Las Vegas Lights (profiled here add link).
Relevant Sport CEO Charlie Stillitano, the man who brings us the International Champions Cup each year, will be on hand to fill us in on Relevant’s controversial, if exciting, plan to stage a regular season La Liga match featuring Barcelona in Miami this coming January.
Stillitano is not the only newsmaker on the docket for the convention, which runs from Friday, November 9th through Sunday, November 11th, at One Ocean Resort, in Neptune Beach, Florida.
Mark Lamping is the President of the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars and also serves on the Board of Directors for Premier League club Fulham FC.
I spoke to Lamping over the phone recently, just days before Fulham and Jaguars owner Shahid Khan withdrew his offer to purchase Wembley Stadium, AKA the “Home of Football.”
The purchase was on track to go forward when we spoke, with Lamping telling GotSoccer, “it’s progressing.” “There is still a ways to go,” Lamping said before Khan withdrew his offer, “we’ve made significant progress from the start of this process but we are confident that we will be able to see this through.”
Perhaps Lamping will be able to shed some light on the Wembley situation from the Fulham point of view, but Wembley or not the busy executive has plenty on his plate and should have much to discuss, including the Jaguars yearly match in London.
Jacco Swart is the CEO of the Eredivisie, the Netherlands professional league, and is scheduled to address the GotSoccer Convention on the myriad challenges facing professional clubs.
When we spoke via a somewhat finicky international connection Swart expressed concern regarding the “economical strength of the domestic leagues,” noting as an example that the “market in the U.K. is bigger than it is in the Netherlands, and the Dutch market is bigger than Estonia.”
Swart made an interesting point, saying that “the markets in the U.S. and the Netherlands are more or less the same size (for soccer) but obviously, looking at the economical power in general terms, you could say it is only a matter of time before the U.S., with football getting more popular even more than it is today, that the market will overgrow the Dutch market.”
Swart had this to say about the power of the Champions League. “The money that can be gained in the competition (the Champions League) is having a strong influence on the competitive balance in many domestic competitions.”
Subsequent to our conversation Dutch powers Ajax, PSV, and Feyenoord agreed to share their Champions League winnings with their Eredivisie competitors.
It will be interesting to hear Swart’s take on this unprecedented step and to perhaps learn about his role in the move.
A highlight of the convention figures to be the Q&A featuring Swart and Charlie Stillitano immediately after the Eredivisie CEO wraps up his presentation on Saturday morning.
Returning to the Premier League I spoke with Arsenal FC Head of Business Strategy James Murray who will kick off Sunday’s GotSoccer Convention schedule.
Attendees will be keen to learn how the Premier League giants go about the business of business. “Data,” the analytics minded Murray told GotSoccer, “is going to be at the heart of every decision that we make internally, and also we know that it’s a vitally important way of convincing our commercial partners that we are a good fit for them from an audience perspective.” And,” Murray added, “people have expectations for how to engage with them in a more tailored fashion which ultimately is underpinned by how you interpret the data that you are able to collect.”
Turning stateside, GotSoccer’s own Analytics Maven, Bill Cameron will crunch the numbers to show why the USSF Academy structure has failed us in the past while looking to the future and USMNT’s prospects of making it back to the World Cup in 2022.
Youth will also be served as Dr. Pete Zopfi the President of US Youth Soccer shares his insights with the attendees in one of his first appearances since his election in July.
A member of two important committees of US Soccer, the Budget and Finance Committee and the Investment Committee, Dr. Zopfi is not to be missed.
The final speaker of the 2018 GotSoccer Convention is Lynn Berling-Manuel, the CEO of United Soccer Coaches (Former NSCAA). Berling-Manuel is the first female to lead the United Soccer Coaches in its storied 77-year history, and one of the few women in the world to lead a major soccer organization.
With 30,000 members United Soccer Coaches is the largest coaches organization in the world and its annual convention is a centerpiece of the soccer calendar in the U.S. attracting up to 12,000 attendees and hosting both the Major League Soccer and National Women’s Soccer League drafts as just a part of its schedule.