Leighton McKnight, Contributor
Jamaica recently made it through to the final FIFA 2014 World Cup (WC) Qualifying Round in CONCACAF involving six teams from which the top three will automatically qualify for the finals and the fourth-place team will play off with a team from Oceania for another spot.
Our country has not got this far in FIFA WC qualifications in over 10 years, so this is a major feat for the current Reggae Boyz and a welcome gift for our celebration of 50 years of Independence. Going on to qualify for the finals in football capital Brazil will be a most remarkable achievement and certainly a big boost for brand Jamaica internationally.
Qualifying for the WC finals will be extremely challenging and will require a cohesive partnership between all stakeholders, including the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), the players, sponsors, the Government, FIFA and, very importantly, the fans/supporters both locally and in the diaspora. A preliminary estimate shown below indicates that the cost to finance the JFF's operations for the next 17 months leading up June 2014 will be just over $700 million. (See Table 1.)
It will be observed that match and camp expenses of $378 million comprise over 50 per cent of the projected expenses. To put things in perspective, staging a WC match at our National Stadium costs on average between $18 million and $25 million. Of this amount, just over half directly relates to players such as airfares, accommodation, per diems and match incentives. All players have a signed contract which entitles each of them in the squad for a match to a per diem of US$100 (US$200 away) and incentives of J$200,000 for a win or $70,000 for a draw in home games ($250,000/$100,000 away).
Of significant importance also is the cost of airfares as most of the players are based overseas as far as Vietnam and many in various parts of Europe, which means economy airfares can average close to $160,000 per player as most times tickets must be booked at short notice as team squad is usually determined a couple weeks before a game. Considering that over 20 players travel from overseas for WC qualifying matches, it is not difficult to see that this is a costly item, and the JFF is currently without an airline sponsor as we did for the 1998 campaign. Adding up all the direct expenses, those relating to players can easily exceed $12 million for a single match.
The cost of renting the National Stadium, security, advertising, PA systems, insurance, backup generator, permits, tickets, cashiers, workers, match official expenses, medical, ambulance, cess to FIFA, CONCACAF, Caribbean Football Union and other game-day expenses can be estimated at about $10-12m per match. A summary of a typical game day budget is shown in Table 2.
Overseas WC matches cost on average between $8 million and $12 million to cover airfares, accommodation, food, per diem and incentives for a typical delegation of between 30 to 35 players, coaching staff, medical personnel, chef and delegation head. These trips are usually minimum five days with accommo-dation costs inclusive of food ranging between US$250 to US$350 per person per day.
Tournaments such as the Digicel Cup and the Gold Cup, which the team will be participating in December 2012 and July 2013, will cost in the region of $15 million to $20 million each. These tournaments can last up to two weeks for the team depending on performance.
For calendar year 2013, the senior men's team is scheduled to play five home games and five away games in WC qualifying. If the costs for the Digicel and Gold Cup tournaments are added, in addition to say another 10 friendlies (five home, five away) between now and May 2014, given the aforementioned cost structure, it is not difficult to roughly compute the estimate for match and camp expenses after including an amount of $30 million (which is far from adequate) for the other six national teams. It is very unfortunate that our junior men's and our women's teams are badly in need of financial resources to realise their true potential, especially the men's Under-20 and Under-17, who are also now in the midst of their WC Qualifying campaign, having just made it to the final round slated for Mexico and Panama early next year, yet not much is forthcoming.
SALARIES AND ADMIN EXPENSES
Salaries are for the technical and administrative staff comprising some 25 full-time and 12 part-time employees. Other programme expenses include gear, equipment, and maintenance of training facilities, seminars, courses and other developmental projects.
Administrative expenses comprise professional fees, administrative travel, electricity, telephone, water, insurance, medical, rental of premises, motor vehicle expenses, printing, repairs and maintenance, etc. In US$ terms, the estimate of expenses for the 17 months is under US$8 million, which more than likely will be less than the projection for any of the other five countries in the final senior WC qualifying round.
The big question will always be asked as to how will the JFF finance such a budget and is all this worth our while as a poor developing country? Against this background, it should be clearly stated that there is no intention to seek diversion of funds earmarked for health, education, security, infrastructural development, social programmes, etc, to the football programme. Instead, as shown in the budget, the programme is budgeted to be largely self-financing with over 87 per cent to come from gate receipts, match fees, sponsorship, FIFA grants, merchandising and other such revenues.
Of vital importance is the gate receipts where supporters are being asked to pay $1,500 each for bleachers, $5,000 for grandstand category 1 and $3,500 for category 2 for five home WC matches over the next 11 or so months. In effect, each bleachers patron is being asked to invest $7,500 for five WC matches over 11 months which is roughly $680 per month. It should be noted that these prices have remained the same since 2008 despite price increases and depreciation of the Jamaican dollar, indicating JFF's recognition of the local economic challenges. Also, the other five teams we are competing against have bigger stadiums and charge on average more than we can thus giving them a distinct financial advantage with their price range of US$22-US$250 compared to Jamaica's of US$16-US$55.
In fact, Mexico's Azteca Stadium is more than three and a half times the size of ours (105,000 capacity) and, with their pricing, can finance the JFF's entire budget stated with just three sold-out games!
Another factor to note is the fact that a full stadium with all supporters in national colours playing their '12th-man role' is very intimidating to visiting teams and can go a far way in motivating our footballers to win crucial matches. If we get five "full houses" next year at the National Stadium this alone will guarantee the JFF over $200m putting it well on its way to meet the revenue target, bearing in mind that for the France 1998 campaign we got four "full houses" in 1997 for the similar round and recently for the match against the USA we got about an 80 per cent capacity support. Also a 50 per cent capacity at reduced prices for say five friendlies and match fees for another five away friendlies can raise over another $70 million putting the JFF well on its way to meet the revenue target.
In terms of sponsorship, approximately $205m is budgeted and about half of that is already secured in cash and kind from the likes of Digicel, Stewarts Auto, WISYNCO, Petrojam, GraceKennedy, KAPPA and others. Other sponsors are invited to come on board to finance the balance estimated of just over US$1m as Jamaica's football product will now provide one of the best avenues to promote brand, goods and services of all types, a true value for money proposition and at the same time a major means to contribute to nation building. Companies are also encouraged to buy blocks of match tickets for their staff which will result in "a win-win" situation for all concerned. Of note is that FIFA will continue to provide its annual grants towards its assistance programmes and will provide US$1m to the JFF at the end of 2013 to assist in final WC preparations if the team qualifies for the final.
The Government of Jamaica has been very supportive of the national football programme mainly through cash contributions from the Sports Development Foundation and in-kind contributions in various forms. This support is expected to continue and increase as appropriate.
In answering the question "Is this worth it /can we afford it?", it should be pointed out that if Jamaica qualifies for the 2014 World Cup, based on the levels of the last World Cup, FIFA will pay over at least US$9 million (J$820 million) to JFF, which will go a long way in setting up a sustainable financing programme for our football. In addition, the FIFA senior men's WC is one of the largest sporting events globally with the viewership of the 2010 staging exceeding 3.2 billion covering every country on earth.
This is a great opportunity for Brand Jamaica to promote our country and people picking up from where we left off at the London Olympics. This, no doubt, will result in huge economic, social and reputational spin-offs, auguring well for our future development. Against this background, the JFF appeals to all stakeholders, especially corporate Jamaica and football supporters/fans! Jamaica is the only Caribbean territory left in the WC qualifiers, so the entire region is depending on us as the sporting leaders. It cannot happen without your support, so please prepare to play your part!
Leighton McKnight is the Finance Committee chairman, Jamaica Football Federation.