Football in Russia, the now and the future: an interview with Alan Moore
Born in Dublin in 1973, Mr. Moore started playing football at six, an average age to begin wobbling the ball with your feet. His love for sports developed into boxing and even tennis. Luckily he’s Irish, and even though he traveled most of the world with sports-related work being either a semi-professional player or a consulting manager, he ended up in Croatia. You can probably guess what happened in his life after Croatia... yep, he came over to save Russia!
Miguel Francis: How did you get into sports? What was the catalyst that made you continue?
Alan Moore: Well, I began boxing internationally for Ireland and then played football semi-professionally for Ireland as well. I then went on to play for Canada, Germany and even Saudi Arabia. Too many teams to mention, but there was this one team that I was playing for called Medina, which happened to be the representative team of the second holiest city in Saudi Arabia. The funny thing was that I was the only Christian to have been on that team in its entire history [smiles]. My father was a sports coach in Ireland. For football he did a lot of fund-raising, promotions and marketing. He was way ahead of his time, really. He knew how to make sports accessible and fun on and off the field. He knew how to make it an attractive product, as he called it, how to sell the sport. I looked at him as my role model. Eventually that drive and passion infected me.
MF: How did you get into consulting?
AM: I began working for clubs, helping them with how to market their events better, how to sell sponsorship and how to sell tickets. This all started while I was still boxing and playing football in Ireland. I used North American gameday style marketing and operations and went behind the scenes. Then I moved to Germany and mixed North American with the existing German style of marketing, and applied it to clubs in Hesse, Frankfurt region.
Soon after, my gigs spread to Croatia which was a stepping stone into the Russian market. In Croatia I worked a team called Hajduk from Split which is a city 700 kms from the capital Zagreb. I assisted them in fine-tuning their marketing strategies, and increased their revenue streams. Eventually becoming a shareholder in a Croatian-based company that specializes in sports consulting called Hiberno Intl.
MF: So what led to that point in going with Hiberno and eventually into Russia?
The first work I actually came with into Russia was in 2004, when Hajduk sold a player to a Russia club, I had to organize the legal papers, finance and visas, which was just me driving up and down between Zagreb and Split, 700kms round trips (laughs) and two trips to Moscow. Seven years later I’m here with Hiberno again but this time full time, specializing in football and tennis consulting and operations management.
MF: And now that you’re in Russia, what’s your take on the Russian sports situation and particularly football?
AM: If you have money you play, if you don’t you need a rich benefactor athlete-wise or absolute perfect skills. The majority of Russian sport clubs are simply money-making exercises in the youth section with little quality or forethought being applied. This is endemic from top to bottom even in the biggest clubs in Russia, in any sport.
If the youth sections of clubs are not well run then we shouldn’t be surprised when the senior team matches are poorly attended and organized. A few years ago those players were in the youth sections! Nobody believes in the Russian football league and clubs.
When players in the premier league go for five months without salary, how can they be motivated to even try on the field? Too often we hear of corruption and match fixing in Russian football which turns even more people off.
MF: What changes do you see happening in the Russian sports scene? What can clubs do now to make their product better? Let’s stick to football, I guess.
AM: With a tiny investment, any football club in the top four divisions can increase ticket sales, sponsorship and performance on the filed. By making their stadium THE place to be! Football IS an entertainment so it has to be fun and safe to go to. No Russian club in the premier league except Lokomotiv Moscow have grasped this. Football on the pitch doesn’t have to be stupendous or Brazil-like you know, a win is a win but what happens before, during and after the game forms the fans opinion. Miguel, since you’re from the movie business it’s just like having a good thorough pre-production, production, postproduction and distribution and marketing but with the most crucial thing having the perfect sound-track. For example, the music they play at Russian stadiums does nothing to excite. Until the Russian clubs are prepared to break with the past and treat their supporters like valued customers, clubs will continue to go bankrupt.
MF: Wow you surprised me with your knowledge of the movie industry! Sounds like a plan, Alan, that’s also what I’m here for, to help Russia let go, let go of the past. You know it’s all about letting go right? What ventures are you doing now and in the near future?
AM: Currently I’m working with a number of clubs including Volga Ulyanovsk, to improve their gameday operations and the region’s sport stadiums with our partners, the best sports surface company in the world, SIS. It’s good to make people aware of these things; we all need to push forward!
Thanks for filling us in on the sports loop Alan. I guess most of us could have guessed that the situation in the sports arena could be similar to the one in the political arena because, honestly, it all sounds too much the same to me. Best of luck to Alan and Godspeed Russia, let go and go forward!