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Southampton To Reconnect With The Local Community Says Chief Commercial Officer
Tuesday, 5th Dec 2023 13:28

Not many Saints supporters will know the name of Charlie Boss who arrived as Chief Commercial Officer back in April a few weeks before the club's relegation was confirmed, however he is predicting a bold and exciting future for SFC.

When Sport Republic bought Southampton FC almost two years ago there was hope amongst the Saints supporters that now we could start to compete again in the Premier League after several seasons where former owner Gao Jisheng was unable to put money into the club due to the political situation in his native China.

Perhaps Sport Republic took their finger off the pulse when they arrived, thinking that they were buying a well run club that just needed investment,

That didn't prove to be the case, it became clear that although then CEO Martin Semmens had done a good job on a low budget, he was not the man to take the club forward when there was money to be spent and despite big money being injected in the club by Sport Republic and quite a few signings made, the crucial striker role was never filled to the quality needed.

Sport Republic knew things had to change and instigated a restructuring programme at the turn of the year, this brought in new Chief Commercial Officer Charlie Boss and he has been speaking to about what has been happening at the club, here is some of what he had to say.

"The business is “fundamentally the same”, even if commercial income will dip despite parachute payments,

“The actual job of generating revenue yourself stays pretty similar,” adds Boss. “The ticketing business, the retail business, those things don’t fundamentally change [depending on] what league you’re in.

“The area that is most affected is sponsorship because, essentially, the proposition changes from ‘I’m selling a global Premier League audience’ to ‘I’m selling a Southampton Football Club audience’. That has a difference in value."

Boss explains that the mark of a high-performing commercial department is to deliver growth regardless of what happens on the pitch and he says that Sport Republic have given him licence to get creative.

“The biggest message is be bold, take risks, we’ve got your back, that’s why I have this complete certainty that the long-term future of this club is so strong. They are hugely committed to the project both on the pitch and off it.”

That means investment and Boss makes the claim that Sport Republic are willing to invest driven by an appetite for innovation and the risks that come with it.

I am not quite sure myself what that actually means, but Boss does try to explain.

“Not all football clubs and business are like that, I’ve certainly worked in organisations that were more risk averse culturally. We are the opposite. We are determined to have a go at doing things differently. In club football that’s so important.

“Even in the Premier League you’re still one of 20 , you are a commodity. If you can’t strike out and do things differently you become a commoditised asset and that means that the market sets your price.

“It’s a pretty boring job [being] chief commercial officer of a commodity. Whereas if you have a distinct unique proposition, you have a real opportunity to outperform the market.

“But that can also go wrong. You need to have an appetite for risk.”

That means reflection and revaluation on the commercial side of things and our new(ish) CCO continues.

“What I encourage my team to do is to go out and learn as much as possible so that when we come back [to the Premier League] we come back stronger,” says Boss.

“An example of that is EFL clubs are allowed to stream some of their men’s first team matches in the UK and most of them globally. So our entire approach this season is to try and experiment as much as we can within the EFL rules, and within our technological capabilities, so that next season we know a lot more about what our fans want and we can deliver better results for them."

But Boss is insistent that if Saints are to prosper the fanbase and the local community are a big part of it going forward.

“Local businesses feel like it’s their club again,” Boss says. “I’m convinced there’s a way of us getting back to the Premier League and not losing that.

“I think if we were being self-reflective towards the end of our time in the Premier League, there had been a growing disconnect with our fanbase, with the community. Something had slightly broken that relationship, probably a few years of really tough results.

“The biggest thing we focused on as a commercial team since I came here six months ago was rebuilding that connection. We see it, we feel it. We’ve got this fan advisory board who are much closer to the club and helping us make decisions.”

“There’s a real burning platform for us to accelerate some of the change that we may otherwise have taken years to make,” continues Boss. “Our strategy, our culture, our team have evolved enormously quickly.

“I’m not sure I’ve ever worked in an environment that has rapidly evolved as Southampton Football Club over the last six months.”

So some very fine words spoken by Charlie Boss about his plans for the club, on the face of it he says some very pertinent things, but the proof of the pudding is going to be in the eating, the Southampton supporters will want to see their views being listened to and changes being made.

So finally who is Charlie Boss ? I hear people asking.

He graduated from Oxford University in 2006, which I guess would make him somewhere in his late 30's.

He has worked at a host of companies in the sporting sector since 2009, including the FA, the Rugby Football Union, ESPN, The Walt Disney Company and more lately the Jockey Club up until March 2023 just prior to joining SFC in April of this year.

So one good thing we can say about him is that he has a background in UK sports, something that we haven't been able to say about those charged with the day to day running of the club over the last 6 years or so.

Photo: Action Images

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Bowlercow added 14:03 - Dec 5
The best way for Boss/SR or anyone else to build a better connection is to sort out the placing of away fans in the stadium so that we can have an end

mascott514 added 22:52 - Dec 5
I'm not sure theres a huge desire to focus on fans.
I think they are forced to by the lack of Prem status
If we were to get back we would be last on their minds.
But were far from the worst at this.
If you're a fan of a club with a 5 + year wait for a season ticket, you are not going to be wooed like Saints or other smaller clubs.

Thankfully for them, I keep coming back for more punishment as do the rest of us, and I love it, even the dross we get served!
(present form excepted!)

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