Daniel, with January 7 you joined Botev Plovdiv as CEO. How did that happen?
I received a call several months before asking me if I was interested a managing a football club in Eastern Europe, without more details, not even the name of the club or the country. That already sound exciting to me. Then, we worked hard during some months evaluating the status of the club, the project, the opportunities and, finally, on January 4th I have received the final call to move to Bulgaria to join this project in Plovdiv.
Did you already know the Bulgarian football and especially Botev before?
Football is not only my job, also my hobby. I was definitely more into Bulgarian football during the golden time of the Bulgarian National team. Also top Bulgarian players were playing in Spain at the time. I remember that my favourite national team to win the World Cup 94, after Spain, was Bulgaria. And of course, I knew about Botev as well, specially from the historical matches they played versus Barcelona and Atletico de Madrid.
Before you joined Botev you worked for LaLiga and were responsible for “Business Development and Strategy for Eastern Europe”. What were your tasks?
I worked for 4 years for LaLiga as a part of a project of internationalization of the Spanish football. My tasks were essentially increasing the value of the product and the brand of LaLiga by delivering different actions. On the business side, I was working with the holder of the TV rights, negotiating sponsorship contracts, working with local authorities, organising marketing events, and other different tasks with the goal of making the Spanish football more appealing for the locals.
Back to your current role. Did you already manage to get an overview of the club, I guess that’s the most important thing right now.
After a month working almost 24/7 I have a general idea of what was done, what is currently happening and what needs to be done. It is not an easy task but we think that the club has a lot of potential to be again a top club in Bulgaria not only in the pitch but also in the business side.
How big is the club? How many people are working in the non-sports sector? Can you tell us a bit about the revenue structure?
We have about 80 people working for the club directly. More than 50 are working in sports-related areas (first team and academy). The rest are part of the management of the club. One of the very important parts of the project is optimising the tasks and responsibilities of our current employees and creating new areas of development that will allow the club to grow quicker.
39% of the club are owned by a company called TC-IME. This company is now bankrupt and the “PFK Botev Association” which holds the other 61% aims to buy the rest of the shares. Is that right?
That’s correct. They are gathering some funds to acquire the stock from TC-IME
What are you main tasks right now, beside getting all insights you need? Did you already define projects or goals for the future?
There are several areas we are working with currently. Of course, in the sports side, we work together with the coaching team. On the administration side there are many present challenges ahead from balancing the club in terms of money to optimising the human organisation passing by improvement of Komatevo Base.
We also aim to improve our commercial processes by optimising our social networks, communication and, therefore, show the potential to the product to the most important asset that we have right now, which is no other than our passionate fan-base.
Institutionally, in the short-term, we are looking forward to have much more presence and influence in the BFU and Bulgarian League, and in the mid-term to have more weight also in an international level.
But the most important part of the project is the academy. We aim to build here a world-wide recognised modern football infrastructure to create a benchmark academy in Europe, with our own methodology, and that it would be the reference academy of the area.
What are the biggest issues at the moment you have to solve?
There are and there will always be issues to solve. So far, we are working in building the basis for a successful club in the mid-term in all areas from finance, to HR, to sports. That takes patience, time and work. But, as I said before, I joined the project because, despite of the current and past problems, I see the potential and a bright future.
I guess there is a vision for the club’s future. What is it?
We want together to bring Botev back to the elite of the Bulgarian Football and to build a sustainable sports and economic model so the problems the club had in the recent past will not happen again, no matter who is leading the club. We want that everyone in the football world recognises our team and our project when they hear the name of PFK Botev.