Bergen's finest23 May 2017 - Per Olsson
Brann sports club is one of Norway’s strongest brands. As the football club is expected to win its 15 home matches every year, there is a strong culture of wanting to deliver, both commercially and with regards to the sport.
Vibeke Johannesen is Managing Director of Brann and has the ultimate responsibility for the club. A job she was offered when the club, for the first time in 31 seasons, was relegated from the first division.
“I had been with the club for nine years and it was a tough challenge to take over the responsibility. If you leave the first division, a lot of money is lost, especially from ticket sales, sponsorship and media income. Clubs that are more used to switching between good and poor results are more prepared when this happens. But we suddenly had a team of players who wanted the same money as the year before, and an organisation that was also set up for this type of budget.”
Vibeke had come from being the club’s commercial manager and had, because of this, a good relationship with key sponsors and partners that contributed with revenues. A reorganization resulted in a smaller club with the aim of returning to the first division as soon as possible. One of the most important lessons was the players’ contracts. Today, all Brann players have contracts which state that salaries and bonuses are revised if the club is relegated from the first division.
What is the difference between leading a football club and a regular company?
That we have so many different skills and functions within the same organisation. And that so many of our staff have short term contracts. And, of course, that Brann is so important to the people of Bergen, whether you are interested in football or not. This means that I always have to consider many different wills and needs when making important and big decisions.
As Vibeke shows us around the arena, she points to where the new improved stands will be built. When they are ready, it will improve the facility at the stadium. We also meet the players, who have had time to change after the morning’s training session. On the boardroom walls, we note that the portraits of notable people from Brann’s history are of men only.
“It is still unusual to have women in leading positions in the big clubs. But football is a generous world, and although us leaders are bitter opponents on match days, we share our experiences and success stories. I have good contact with the Swedish club Malmö FF and I have visited Hammarby in Stockholm, which has a similar audience to us with loyal and kind fans.”
How important are the fans?
The fans are super important. The results aren’t always what you want, regardless of how well the team has prepared. So, you need the support of the audience, and in our case, our owners. Therefore, we are always in discussions with our fans. And no fighting means that even families with children feel safe at our matches. That’s not always the case for some clubs.
What takes up most of your time during your working day?
Management! follow-up of the Stadium’s development plans, implementation and follow-up of strategies, execution of matches and monitoring of outgoing contracts and new ones.
In today’s world, where you can follow the players’ lives in social media, how much responsibility do you take as a club?
When you’re a player with us, you’re with us around the clock. The players are important role models and must therefore act as such. The club is not only dependent on results. Our long-term aim is to maintain a strong brand, social responsibility and delivering an experience, both for those who see a home game for the hundredth time and those who visit Brann’s stadium for the first time. I love it when we win, it’s really important, we all think so. But sometimes you lose and then you have to have a plan and maintain your focus. Being the manager of Brann is not only about managing a legacy, it’s just as much about constantly developing this legacy.
- AGE: 41
- LIVES: Bergen
- TITLE: Managing Director
- PROGRAM BI: Bachelor in Marketing
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- BEST ABOUT BERGEN: The engagement, Brann and the seven mountains of Bergen
Reference: Advantage #1/2017 – The magazine for members of BI Alumni