Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

Lessons to learn from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Posted by hakanrylander on April 14, 2010

Not only United fans are unhappy with the Glazers. Supporters of the family’s NFL franchise the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are getting increasingly fed up with the owners’ unwillingness to invest in new players to secure long-term sporting success. The Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2003, but since then sporting success has slipped. They finished last season with the dreadful record of 3 wins and 13 defeats (the worst since 1991).

Even so the Buccaneers is one of the most profitable clubs in the NFL. One of the reasons is the very favourable lease at the Raymond James Stadium, owned by the County of Hillsborough. Some say that the club uses the stadium more or less for free. But in recent years profits have also been increased by a strategy now familiar to United fans; lower spending on players. Last season the Bucs spent less than any other club in NFL on player wages.

Despite the almost total lack of sporting success, the revenues and value of the club have kept increasing steadily. In this context sporting success is only important to the extent that it’s necessary to maintain or increase income. And it seems that the Buccaneers’ poor performances on the pitch have yet to influence the financial results. One explanation could be that the brand still benefits from the Super Bowl triumph in 2003.

But it’s also interesting to note that high ticket prices and poor team performances have started to hurt gate receipts for the Bucs. Attendences were down more than 10% last season. A few years ago there was a 100,000 person waiting list for season tickets (probably exaggerated for marketing reasons, but still very long). Today anyone who wants a season ticket can buy one and prices have been slashed.

Still, the ominous conclusion is that, based on their experiences with Tampa Bay Bucs, the Glazers will be quite happy to spend less on players and accept several years without success on the pitch since they will feel that this is unlikely to hurt the financial performance. Indeed, they are probably convinced that such a strategy will improve the financial results.

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3 Responses to “Lessons to learn from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers”

  1. The Gaffer said

    Excellent write-up. Thanks Hakan. I love reading your financial articles and I welcome your views because Guardian and other numerous sites are just too similar when it comes to the Glazer situation.

    I read a long time ago, before the family took over United, about how the family had changed the Bucs team for the ‘better’. That was probably in 2004-5, a year after their Super Bowl success. I also think that the paper I read it in, probably the Sun, predicted good things from the Glazers. Not quite.

  2. Jonny Thumper said

    A yank checking in here – I am a fan of both of the Glazer’s clubs, but am not a fan of ownership…they seem pathetically/cynically cheap. The Bucs were never well respected in the NFL (check their woeful history), but it does pain me to see proud Man U getting wrapped in the mess these folks have brought along with them.
    That said – “GO BUCS!”

  3. But will lack of CL money not hurt the financial performance? Losing out on a big part of the approx £30-40M Prize money from CL (approx 10% of total revenue 2009) and related lowered broadcasting revenue and matchday income due to fewer high profile games at OT can’t be totally insignificant can it?

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