‘The O’s’ unique ideas to hold in good stead



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Video: Coliseum Global Sports Venue Alliance (YouTube)

The Leyton Orient Football Club is a professional football club based in London, England (UK), who competes in League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system. They are the second oldest football club in London to play at a professional level, and are known to their fans by their nickname ‘The O’s’.

The 9,271-capacity Brisbane Road, currently referred to as The Breyer Group Stadium for sponsorship purposes, and originally known as Osborne Road, is a football stadium in Brisbane Road, Leyton, East London, England, and is the digs of the Leyton Orient Football Club.

In an exclusive to ‘Coliseum’ at the Coliseum Online Week EUROPE Worldwide – held in March 2021 – Danny Macklin, Chief Executive, Leyton Orient F.C., tells the online audience how thinking out-of-the-box is the second nature of the club and also shares the ingenious ideas the club has come out with to keep the cash registers jingling especially at a time when COVID-19 has made a huge dent on the revenue earnings of the sports venue sector.

Danny Macklin describes Leyton Orient F.C. as a football club with phenomenal heritage and “In the future we hope to recreate some of the heritage. We are a sleeping giant – that phrase is often overused in sports. We are too many people’s second favorite team.”
 

Leyton Orient FC – driving different

Macklin shares club details, “We were formed in 1881 and the Old Main Stand has been with us since 1950’s. The rest of the stadium has been renovated this millennium and the old Main (East) Stand, which was originally opened in 1956, has been reduced in length but is still a fair size. We are one of the favorite clubs in London. Our mission is to boast a huge fan following.”

He rued that COVID-19 has had a huge impact on every single football club across the world – “From that perspective, Leyton Orient is very blessed with phenomenal awareness and phenomenal support. We tried to thrive as much as we possibly can and that was our mission to ensure that we kept floating during the pandemic – on and off touring.”
 

Club and stadium specifics

  • Formed 1881;
  • Old Main Stand in place since 1950’s;
  • London’s second oldest professional football club; and
  • Temporary fix (read old Main [East] Stand)- planning profitable longer-term solution.

 
The old Main (East) Stand is known as the ‘Old Lady’ – a phrase coined in the ‘50s. Previous owners never invested in the stand. The modernization of the East Stand happened during the break between the season of 2013-2014 and 2015-2016. The project to revamp the stand did not happen.

Mentioning about roof repair in The Breyer Group Stadium, Macklin further informed, “We had to commission a near seven-figure project to replace the roof which is asbestos-ridden and will be safely removed – all of the asbestos and the roof and replacing it. The reality is that it won’t generate any additional revenue but it will create much better environment for people to enjoy games for the next season when we have crowds back in The Breyer Group Stadium and, of course, it will be drip-free whenever there is a heavy shower.”
 

Utility to its best

Added a confident Macklin, “So, what was our background in terms of making sure The Breyer Group Stadium is as lucrative as possible. We always use the analogy of our Chairman Nigel Travis who always says we have got to sweat our asset and rightly so. He wouldn’t open a factory and only operate 24 or 25 days in a year. With football, the tradition is revenue can be generated away from the field that will allow onfield activities to thrive. For us it is all about sweating the assets of The Breyer Group Stadium taking into consideration the fact that we have had such huge impact of COVID-19. The ambition that we did have and we will have post-pandemic but the impact we had on the here and now in terms of our revenue proved that we were on with a road bump. But once the pandemic is over, we can fly up again.”
 

Objectives:

  • Sweating the asset of The Breyer Group Stadium;
  • Prior to 2017 we took less than £20K non-matchday revenue;
  • Pre-COVID-19 that increased to over £350K; and
  • Aim to get to £1m revenue centre by 2024.

 

Out-of-the-box ideas

He maintained, “We see things very differently. We want to create new stands, new environment in order to create additional revenue. As a club we lost in the region of two million pounds on an average over the last three years. We have got to get that down to a break even position and I strongly believe we can once this pandemic is over.”

To drive home the point that the club thinks out-of-the-box, Macklin maintained, “We have done an activity partnership with Sidemen. When they first came on to the desk 12 months ago, we in order to get the target where we are losing considerably less than a million a year were looking to grab eyeballs. Our partnership with Sidemen allowed us to – they are one of the biggest You Tubers in the world -over billions and billions of views and it is initiatives like this other football clubs might not be able to do because they are London destination predominantly and we can direct our activity on and off the page. So, we have been able to expand our reach and that has generated massive amount of revenue as well as given much publicity to the club.”

The Sidemen are a British YouTube group consisting of KSI, Miniminter, Zerkaa, TBJZL, Behzinga, Vikkstar123 and W2S. The group is best known for its various YouTube channels, which have a combined total of around 20 million subscribers, as of April 2021.

  • Destination – £1m;
  • No silver bullet;
  • Pitch hires represent a huge part of Leyton Orient FC business;
  • Sidemen – groundbreaking partnership with leader YouTubers with global reach of many millions and billions of views has helped expand awareness of pitch facilities, etc.,; and
  • Leyton Orient FC expanded reach by working closely with agencies and TV/film production company.

 
He added, “In addition to how we look at things differently, we host a number of events and games because of our history and because of our geographic location.”
 

We proudly hosted:

  • Harry’s Heroes (English documentary television program) – two years back;
  • Master Chef – last year; and
  • He puts in, “One of the most unique sponsorship I think ever seen in any football club – unique sponsorship by Harry Kane! We are truly an innovative club and we will continue to be as innovative as we can.

 

Ingenious ideas

Macklin added, “Some of the areas that we are looking at in terms of how we monetize our facilities far better than that we have and far better than clubs our level have historically done.”
 

Revenue drivers:

  • Coworking – “We are in the hope to get facilitating coworking within one of our main stands later on this summer. We believe that we will be a model where number of people would be quite happy to travel to the local stadium in Leyton and it will be popular with not just fans but also the local residents. We will soon commence work on a new innovative coworking area which will double up as a matchday/non-matchday bar area,” he informed.

 

Additional revenue drivers:

  • Office hires to local companies;
  • Pitch hires – aiming to have 100 games in May 2022;
  • Potential ground share with a Women’s Super League (WSL) side;
  • Two summer concerts in 2022 being planned; and
  • And the potential longer-term, gain changer…

Macklin again reiterated that the club looks at things from a very unique perspective, “So, we look at things very differently and we strive to be very different than what we have done in the past. So, all these projects pile into small important element in comparison to what we were going to do. So, we may resurrect this project and it is still very much on the drawing board and in our long-term aim. In order to fully be self-sustainable by the time we break even we have to think of outside the box.”
 

‘Old Lady’

He observed, “So, we have got our ‘Old Lady’ of the East Stand but it is not a revenue driver and on a matchday it generates very little – no matchday revenue because of the age of the stand. We want to look and we will resurrect these discussions by maybe a year or two -potentially longer but hopefully not and look to try rebuilding that stand:

  • Potential new stand with 100 key hotel;
  • New hospitality facilities;
  • Key is to retain 9,200 capacity;
  • Provide a genuine community hub;
  • “We believe we have got a strong catchment area and will appeal to users of London Stadium/London City Airport and those seeking to stay at a hotel with a view of the pitch; and
  • Promoting football tourism.

 
Macklin concluded, “Just prior to the pandemic, just a year ago, we were seeing groups of tourists predominantly from the Far East but not exclusively coming over. It is fantastic to hear ideas on how to get fans back into stadia and I hope when we do that (The Breyer Group Stadium and Leyton Orient) we can very quickly move forward with such projects and outside the Premier League how you run a successful and sustainable football club.”

Danny Macklin has this never-say-die spirit in him and Macklin and his team with their innovative ideas will surely help the club touch dizzying heights of success. Way to go!

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