Sports, Law and Finance Conference

Following the international theme of the project, HPP’s next project activity was held in Belgrade, Serbia in October 2019. Sports, Law and Finance Conference was developed in cooperation with the Serbian Ice Hockey Association as a local project representative and a co-organizer Karanovic & Partners law firm, operating in the region of Southeast Europe, which brought essential expertise about legal aspects supporting the good governance in a sports ecosystem.

First day of the conference provided a rare opportunity to exchange ideas, experience and good practices between various sport, government and sponsor representatives in the region. Additionally we listened to interesting lectures on pressing concerns in sport presented by international speakers. The second day focused on developing organizational capacities to establish more financially robust sport organizations and extending their capabilities to secure funding with international experts.

As you know, the Project’s goal is to help people in sport with their ambitions to change things for the better by equipping them with essential skills and knowledge through our FREE lectures. By helping them to play their part well, we’re aiming to build better and well-managed sports organizations and ecosystems.

We believe that only if we all play our parts well we can develop an environment in which athletes and organizations will thrive and bring joy to thousands of sports enthusiasts worldwide for many years to come. Therfore we invite you to check out the videos and presentations below and absorb as much knowledge as you can. You can also freely share the contents with your colleagues in sport.

Regional Sports Competitions – Vision, Infrastructure, Financing, Public Interest, Corporate Governance, Innovation, and Athletes

I.Angelovski and K. Rihtar, Karanovic & Partners

First presentation by I. Angelovski and K. Rihtar, Karanovic & Partners, analyzed three important pillars in sport, which are required for the successful development of sports: vision, infrastructure, and finances. In addition to those three pillars, they emphasized the importance of athletes’ welfare in order to help with the growth of the sport. As legal representatives, they presented corporate governance and the importance of a transparent and simple legal environment. 

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Panel Discussion: Experience of Regional Leagues in Western Balkan Region

G. Đaković, SHLS Crvena Zvezda; N. Žujić, RLK Crvena Zvezda; Ž. Tanasković, Volleyball Federation of Serbia; moderated by M. Vučković, Karanovic & Partners

The panel was constructed as a guided debate between different representatives from different levels and different sports disciplines. The red thread of the debate was about the benefits, challenges, and approaches to participation in regional leagues. Representatives from Rugby Club Crvena Zvezda (Žujić), Ice Hockey Club Crvena Zvezda (Đaković), and from Volleyball Federation (Tanasković) shared their organization’s personal experiences with growing their sport, leagues, how they attracted sponsorship, how they maintained their relationships with sponsors, how they approach to growing the visibility of their competitions.

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Panel Discussion: Experiences from the International Hockey League

M. Milovanović, Serbian Ice Hockey Association; K. Švigir, Croatian Ice Hockey Federation; D. Kontrec, Slovenian Ice Hockey Federation; Dr. G. Maier, Austrian Ice Hockey Federation; moderated by R. Snoj, Slovenian Ice Hockey Federation

The panel discussion focused on introducing Balkan Regional Ice Hockey League and exchanging experiences that were shared from perspectives of participating ice hockey federations, including Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, and the Austrian Federation with vast experience in running the regional competitions in the region. The contrast between the approach and conditions between the Balkan Ice Hockey League and the Austrian League was evident. Whilst the Balkan Regional IHL’s main purpose is to develop young players and grow the popularity of ice hockey in the region through the development of mutual standards, the Austrian leagues are more or less professional which negatively affects the development of young Austrian players.

The participants agreed that the greatest obstacle is the lack of financial resources which slows the progress. Among other important findings, it was also emphasized that a quality league can attract bigger sponsors and better sponsorships. Throughout the debate, many obstacles and intentions for the future were discussed, including minimization of the number of foreign players (lesser number of import players would create more opportunities for home-raised players, thus aid in the improvement and development of the sport in the country), attracting the youth and the importance of having the right people working on development aspect of the league.

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Panel Discussion: Infrastructure and Financing in Sport

K. Švigir, Croatian Ice Hockey Federation; T. Čater Ph.D., University of Ljubljana, School of Business and Economics; B. Vračević, Erste Bank; moderated by M. Vučković, Karanovic & Partners

The panel discussion included participants with different backgrounds and experiences: K. Švigir (IHF Croatia) who recently secured investment for building a new ice rink in a coastal city in Croatia, T. Čater (School of Business and Economics) who is a former athlete and professor of Sports Management, and B. Vračević as a representative of a Bank, which is a general sponsor of the most highly rated league in CEE Region – the professional EBEL league.

In the spotlight of the discussion were infrastructure and financing in sports. It was emphasized how important it is for a sports team to have a longer history and tradition before approaching the possible sponsors with their request for financial support. It is also important for the team to have the right answer to why the sponsors should invest their finances in the team. Professor Čater argued that all projects, regardless of the size of the organization or how well the sport is developed in the country, are considered unsustainable from a solely economic point of view. Consequently, it is important to know how to combine strict economic criteria with milder economic criteria in order to justify the execution of the projects. The representative from Croatian Ice Hockey Federation shared his experience in building a sustainable project for a new club in the city of Zadar.

At the end of the debate, the panelists were joined by Mr. A. Mrkva from the audience. He shared experiences from the Bosnian Ice Hockey Federation about how they’ve managed to build a profitable ice rink in the City of Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina) and the challenges they faced. Perhaps the key takeaway from his experience was that besides focusing on building a rink that is efficient (low operating costs) during the building stage they are now focused on building an ice skating culture and getting as many people as possible to the rink before they enroll them into ice hockey programs. 

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Private and Public Financing of Sport and Logic of Evaluating Investments in Sports Facilities

T. Čater Ph.D., University of Ljubljana, School of Business and Economics

In the presentation, Tomaž Čater Ph.D., Head of Sports Management Studies at the School of Business and Economics (University of Ljubljana) presented existing models of financing in sport in Slovenia by the public (state and city governments) and private (households and companies) and their correlation to the economic performance of a country.

In the second part the presenter introduced several models used to evaluate investments in sports facilities: purely economic, economic impact studies, non-economic arguments.

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Revenue Supporting Subsystems in Sports Organizations

R. Snoj, Ice Hockey Federation of Slovenia

The presentation introduced key factors and subsystems that influence the ability of a sports organization to grow its revenue streams. These subsystems mainly include: infrastructure, merchandise, sponsorships, match-day income, membership fees, government, etc. Considering the competition between the clubs for fans’ affection and money mixed with various cultural and musical live events and even live TV streams, offered by the entertainment industry, the fans expectations grew significantly – they value the comfort of the venues (nicer and more comfortable seats, cleanliness), accessibility by car or public transport, entertainment factor (engagement of the fans in the game) and lastly, results (better results bring in more fans, while teams, which are going through a slump can find themselves playing in front of lesser crowds).

To prove the importance of building revenue support subsystems, two case studies were presented: Arsenal’s move to a new home venue (matchday revenues) and Cristiano Ronaldo move to Juventus (merchandise potential). The cases and practices from elite sports should be considered as principles that can be followed also by small sports organisations.To fortify the statement, the presenter used several examples from his work at a small local ice hockey club.

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EU Funding opportunities for Sports Organizations with Case Examples

H. Muhić, Ice Hockey Federation of Slovenia and Independent Advisor

Mr. Haris Muhić as an independent advisor for European projects explained the opportunity to acquire funding from the European Union for projects such as Hockey Partnership for Progress using the Erasmus+ Programme.

The presentation on the Erasmus+ program introduced guidelines on how to prepare the project outline well in order to obtain more funds. It offered an insight into the conditions, important deadlines, things to consider when preparing the application (a multi-layered process which should not be taken lightly), and the selection process.

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Financial Planning and Monitoring & Financial Planning for Sports Organizations

Rok Snoj, Ice Hockey Federation of Slovenia

The workshop’s main focus was financial management and building capacities of sports organizations to plan and execute budgets and monitor their finances as well as actively approaching risk management.  

The topics included:

  • Introduction to Financial Management in Sports Organisation
  • Planning & Budgeting and steps required for creating a budget
  • Financial Reporting and the importance of making monthly reports in order to quickly discover financial issues
  • Financial analysis and important ratios (Liquidity, Profitability, Operational)
  • Financial Risk Management, risk evaluation table, and the importance of preparing of risk mitigation measures upfront.

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