Interview: Ignacio Mas-Bagà, general manager of Girona FC

Entrevista: Ignacio Mas-Bagà, director general del Girona FC - Johan Cruyff Institute

“The first division takes you to places that you would never believe you would arrive”, states Ignacio Mas-Bagà. And continues: “Our main objective is continue growing and consolidating”

Ignacio Mas-Bagà has extensive experience in the production of international sporting events. He spent six years at Media Sports Marketing, a strategic marketing consultancy in the Mediapro Group, where he worked on advising sports entities and organizing international tours for clubs such as FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Arsenal and Boca Juniors. He also coordinated and produced marketing and hospitality actions for Formula 1 teams such as Ferrari, Sauber and Renault. Later, in 2014, the new Girona CEO joined the Professional Football League (LFP), where he participated in the development of the LFP World Challenge project as director of sport events, coordinating the areas of operations, customer support and television production of the different international tours.

Mas-Bagà tells us about his club, Girona FC, which is undoubtedly the big surprise of La Liga Santander—a team recently promoted to the Primera division able to fight sportingly with higher budget teams, thanks in part to its business strategy that is in continuous progression.

Of this and many other things he speaks to us in this interview.

What are the keys to your business strategy?

Our key is to have a balance between the management part and the sporting part. In the end, we have a budget to meet and that also has to be transferred onto the pitch. Our main objective at the sporting level is to maintain our position and that will give us a much larger income that will allow us to continue growing and consolidating, to help us keep thinking about the future of the club.

The alliance with City Football Group marks a before and after, can you tell us what you have noticed most of all?

Indeed, the entry of “City Football Group” and “Girona Group” into the shareholding of Girona FC has allowed us to continue growing and take a leap internationally. But above all the know-how, that the different professionals of City Football Group exchange ideas with us and the different departments, that allow us to share our strategies and our experiences. At the sporting level, every year between 3 and 5 players come to Girona, great players that Girona probably could not afford, but who help us on a daily basis to keep growing.

What did the jump to the Primera division mean for Girona FC?

In terms of supporters it was a huge change. In the end, being in the first division makes you reach places that you would never believe you would reach. Girona FC had an accumulated audience last season of 90 million viewers; that gives you the context of what is happening. Basically, we had to grow in all departments in order to be able to face the challenge of the first division, not only the sporting challenge, which is huge, but also the commercial challenge. And thus be able to provide the income and resources necessary to sustain the club in a balanced way.

What is your sponsorship strategy based on?

Our sponsorship strategy, when we arrived at the club, was to order and identify all the assets we had, “package” them and above all give them real value. Formerly, there were no valuations that were supported by numbers, now we take into account the media value of these assets, and our strategy is to sell packages that really serve our partners to grow. It is no longer just sponsorship but a question of partnership; it is a win-win scenario. And what we want is that partnering with Girona serves to grow both the brand and the club.

What is your facilities plan?

Well, we have just signed the concession contract with the city, to fully exploit the Montilivi stadium. First, we are analyzing where we have to improve the structure itself—it was built in the 1970s— and where we must reinforce, for example, the facilities like toilets, access, parking, etc. And then there’s the training part, the sports city is a very ambitious project that the club has, and that I am convinced we will carry out in the next few years, since the part of grassroots football is strategic for us.

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