Cristian Gheorghe, sports marketing expert: “New stadiums in Romania are black holes” / “Dinamo must start from scratch, from the 4th League!”


by Florin CARAMAVROV

The founder of Sports Business Academy talks in the following interview about the “inflation” of new stadiums in Romania, and especially in Bucharest, about the latest news in the field he represents, but also about the wrinkled image of Dinamo.


We have stadiums, we don’t have high-performing teams. What should be done for these new stadiums to raise money for depreciation, maintenance?

I think this question had to be asked before we built the stadiums. When you have the National Arena in Bucharest and the Steaua stadium appears to you, then the Triumphal Arch, then Rapid and you can also hear about Dinamo, there will be a lot of structures in a very small area, paid and maintained with public money. That means maintenance, administration, management teams and so on … It will be very difficult to keep them profitable. If I were an event organizer, I would ask for offers from all these arenas. So instead of having a single price that keeps you on a line of profitability, such a structure will enter into direct competition with 4 other structures of the same kind. What’s wrong is wrong.


We wanted new stadiums, but what do we do with them now?

Let’s look outside: Milan has a stadium, which it uses extraordinarily, for everything that means events, concerts … Inter and AC Milan share the same stadium !! If these clubs didn’t even have the money to build a stadium, then who? There, I think the local authorities did their job very well. In order to maintain such a profitable structure, you have to organize a lot of events. I think that, apart from the National Arena, the other stadiums were much better at 15-18,000 seats. Here is Steaua: they have a big stadium, but it is 90% empty in many matches. That match alone cannot be a recipe for the organizers.

Juventus has reduced the stadium!


Give me an example of a well-made stadium in Romania?

The project from Petrolul Ploiești was correct and efficient. But let me give you another example from outside: Juventus Torino has reduced the new stadium, just to put pressure on the ticket price. The stadium will always seem full and, secondly, they have increased the price of tickets and season tickets, because the number of seats is lower. They noticed over time that the number of spectators decreased, although the team had good results. If Steaua does not fill the stadium to 70% capacity for two or three years, then those who designed it must ask some questions.


So now we have stadium inflation …

Yes, it is an inflation of stadiums, in direct competition for event organizers. In the end, I see that something is also being organized on the National Arena. The bottom line is that these new stadiums will not be able to cover their expenses, they will become “black holes”.

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An Eastern story


However, with so many stadiums in Bucharest, FCSB had nowhere to play the championship final! They went to Buzau …

No matter how much dislike the FCSB financier would attract or no matter how big the Steaua brand positioning fight is between the Army Sports Club and FCSB, it was normal and civilized for FCSB, which many people in Romania consider the successor of the old Steaua, to play in Bucharest. on one of the stadiums. We live an Eastern story, a Mioritic story.


Gigi Becali has gained this antipathy over time. Now he is reaping the “fruits.”

Clearly this is the case.


I read in the news that you publish daily on the Facebook page of the Sports Business Academy that there is a lot of innovation in clubs in the West. Can you make a Top 3 clubs and Federations that innovate in Romania?

We don’t have much innovation in Romania, at the level of sports clubs and federations. We are far from that concept. In order to have innovation, there must also be some research or innovation hubs in Romania. Your question is a little mischievous, because Romania does not shine in this area either, so you can come to federations or clubs.

What to copy from the outside


Give me an example of outside innovation.

Having personally had experience with LaLiga lately, I saw something very beautiful at Levante. Instead of completely demolishing the stadium, they came up with designers and engineers and created a modern stadium using the old structure. There I saw two screens that I did not find anywhere in the newly built stadiums in our country. You can vote from the phone, directly on the screen, the player of the match, they have a system of lights, music, fabulous sound. It may not be an innovation anymore, but for us it would be. An innovation would be for us to copy from the outside what we have to copy and to understand that especially the young audience wants much more entertainment. And it can be produced through large, digital screens, through a permanent live communication, a very good sound system.


Basically, you answered here the first question, “What could be done on the new stadiums?” …

Yes, yes, absolutely.


Plus events organized monthly or more often?

We have to look at the events market in Romania and we will see that it is quite small as well.

“The table is no longer just for scoring!”


I was thinking of organizing regular events for the club that owns that stadium …

You can watch it, you can do a lot of things, but when these stadiums were built, you had to get some software licenses in this part of the technology that would allow you to do that. Just the fact that you have a table to put the score on is no big deal in 2022. That table should be used as a TV screen, as a digital screen for Social Media platforms. If you don’t do that in 2022, you’re already 10 years old.


George Ogăaru told me that before the construction of the new stadium in Ghencea, a delegation consisting of representatives of CSA Steaua, the Capital City Hall, the FRF, CNI and the builder were at the Amsterdam Arena. I guess he has to do something like that here, right?

They didn’t have to do it, they had to do it. I also went to the Amsterdam Arena. We saw some concepts borrowed from us, but time will tell if the trip of that delegation you are talking about was useful in the construction of the stadium. At the moment, we can’t figure it out.


How can Dinamo recover, how can it restore its image in the Second League?

The right way would be to start from the 4th League, from scratch. Given DDB’s ability to fund the team and the efforts they made in the first league, I think they could easily take their project from the 4th League to the 2nd League, let’s say. Too much has been drawn from this thread, from everything that means insolvency, debt, every week there are more and more problems. Even if they have a very good reorganization plan, the financial deficit that will arise will be huge. Large sources of income have already disappeared, TV rights were essential in that reorganization plan. It will be very difficult to cover in the Second League. Plus they don’t have many players that can be sold …

“Dinamo must take the example of Petrol, Rapid …”


What you say means bankruptcy …

That’s exactly what I said. He must take the example of Petrol, of Rapid. He has to accept that the only chance is to start from scratch.


And who pays the debts?

What has happened in the past with other clubs will happen, they will remain the responsibility of the state.


I saw a beautiful action recently, made by COSR and Ana Maria Brânză, at ​​one of the high schools in Bucharest. Do you think they will continue or was it, a kind of dust in the eyes?

It should be a constant in Romanian sport. I hope it continues and becomes something permanent.

LED basketball courts! Possibly in Romania too!


I also saw on the SBA facebook page that the International Basketball Federation approved the use of LED courts. Is it possible to see something like this in Romania as well?

Basketball is going in a very good direction, the show is total. And the fact that they have approved that the playing surface will be LED will complete this show. It is possible to see something like this in Romania as well, why not? For the important matches and for the important tournaments, it will be possible to make an effort with us. The technology may not be available in Romania, but it may be available for certain matches. FIBA has opened a new path related to innovation, technology and investment. They are preparing for the new generation of fans. Well, that’s an innovation. Clearly it will be something spectacular. Imagine for a second you were transposed into the karmic driven world of Earl.


What do we see at Sports Business Academy this year?

We have reached the 8th edition, the focus is to bring news. We will have the first workshop related to Twitter, the first workshop related to Snapchat in Romanian sports. We will have prestigious guests from abroad, people with experience in the area of ​​management and marketing and in the area of ​​education. There will be experiences that will add value to those who work and want to grow, to become better in everything they do in sports.


Anything you see, like last year? And I mean Zambrotta, Ravanelli, Ghiță Mureșan …

We are in talks with an important name, we will communicate it soon.

Creativity, another concept that is missing in Romanian sport


You had a specialist at the SBA who talked about TikTok in sports. How are the Romanian federations and clubs moving in this area?

Something from the Romanian Football Federation entered my scroll, on a project of theirs developed in recent years. But we don’t communicate on TikTok yet, I don’t think the messages are set correctly for the audience there. You need a lot of creativity, it’s totally different from what we know, you can’t leave with the same strategy you have on Facebook, Instagram. TikTok is out of the ordinary.


Is Facebook already out of date?

For the TikTok audience, yes.


Who is the TikTok audience?

In my opinion, so not the one declared by this company, it goes somewhere between 13 and 18 years old. I mean, what was once facebook.