Football and Green Economy, The Pistoiese Model

“Orange is the new green” is the title of the new project for environmental sustainability presented on 6 July 2020 at the official event of the new season of the U.S. Pistoiese, in the splendid setting of the Vannucci Piante Nursery Campus. It was born from the idea of 4 students (Massimo Rosi, Enrico Saladino, Jacopo Bellantonio and Francesco Viani) of the MBA master’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Real Madrid. The orange refers to the social color of the Pistoiese, the team with which the project was carried out, and the green instead takes up the color representing the environment.

The idea behind it consists in the desire to mix the two colors to create a modern and innovative football club, which cares as much about sporting results on the pitch as it is about social commitment outside of it.

The project had a first substantial part of studying the city reality and the financial / structural situation of the team to identify weaknesses to be minimized and possible opportunities to be exploited, as well as the entire ecosystem in which the company operates. The Pistoiese turned out to be primarily an economically sustainable company, something not taken for granted in today’s third Italian series, with the achievement of a balanced budget at the end of each sporting season, the constant increase of its assets and the continuous growth of revenues since its return to professional football. Nonetheless, from the analysis of the corporate financial statements it emerged that the different revenue streams are rather fluctuating from season to season: sponsorship contracts (which represent about 35% of revenues for the 2019/20 season), mostly local and short term (with the exception of the main sponsor Vannucci Piante, close to reaching the longevity record in the field of football partnerships), create the need to research and re-negotiate the different agreements each year and make precise planning for the future complex; revenues from ticketing (about 10% of the total) are very volatile and largely dependent on the results obtained in the field; the revenues deriving from merchandising are, on the other hand, practically non-existent or in any case do not affect the company financial statements. The only more stable source of income over the years has been represented by the contributions of the Lega Pro (constituting about 55% of the revenues of the last year), for which the Pistoiese, thanks to the assiduous use of players deriving from youth sectors national teams, it is the fifth team within its group for benefits received in the year 2019/2020 until the stop due to Covid-19.

Based on these assumptions, and with the awareness that a modern football club must promote issues that go beyond sport itself, the idea was born of translating the values ​​of eco-sustainability and respect for the environment into society, constituting the main characteristic of the city of Pistoia which is recognized as the Italian capital of plants thanks to the large number of nursery companies within the territory and world leaders in the sector. The goal is to create a team that acts as a spokesperson for similar values ​​within the Italian football and sports scene, which is not very attentive to the topic and very slowly adapting if compared to the other major European leagues, thus becoming a true and its reference point in the sector. The first step was taken, as in many projects of the same mold, within the company with the awareness and acquisition of a new green spirit, as well as with the implementation of some basic best practices. The next step will consist in organizing concrete activities to be carried out among and with the people to raise awareness and disseminate the idea within the territory. All in collaboration with its commercial and institutional partners, who will benefit from a positive image return, and with the constant involvement of fans and citizens in general, who will benefit from a much more present team than in the past. During the entire process, not to forget the sporting part, particular attention will be paid to the development of the youth sector, already well structured, thanks to the creation of a special orange academy, with the hope that it will turn into a real and own hotbed of local talent.

The project has already obtained the patronage of the Municipality of the city of Pistoia, a sign of the concrete interest that society and the community have in similar initiatives. The financial objective is to obtain a considerable return on image so as to attract the attention of new potential investors already active in the green field or, even, of subjects who have not yet implemented this transformation and are willing to link their own image with that of an eco-sustainable club. The social one, on the other hand, is to offer activities to fans and the community in a more constant way, positively influencing their habits and obtaining results and benefits on an environmental level. Thanks to this, the aim is to achieve an increase and stabilization of revenues deriving from sponsorships and ticketing, with an increase in partnership agreements and above all in the interest of the community towards the team. The estimates speak, net of a 25% decline for the next football season due to the current health situation, of a total recovery of the business levels prior to the same for the 2021/22 season and a 15% annual growth approximately for the 3 following seasons, not to mention the countless social benefits that would derive in parallel.

A green project, in a green environment, for a team that aspires to become one.

Published by Marco Perrotta

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