Can a club-company model be a solution for Brazilian football?

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In 2019, the Chamber of Deputies approved a project that allows Brazilian football clubs to become companies. The model is already widespread in Europe, but the experience of countries like Italy shows that this is not always the solution to management problems.

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Brazilian teams, which for the most part are non-profit entities, would become limited or limited companies and could merge, split or incorporate, seeking to attract more investments. But no club would be forced to adhere to the model, which would become another alternative available.

“The project defines a special tax regime that allows clubs that decide to become companies to collect less taxes than a joint venture, but only slightly above the associations [sem fins lucrativos]. This is the main reason why there is a law, since currently any club can be a company. But the project includes some incentives for associations that want to transform themselves, such as ease of asking for judicial recovery and changes in labor relations, for example, “said economist Cesar Grafietti.

According to the specialist, the team that becomes a company would be “independent of the social club, allowing a more efficient gesture”. In addition, it would be able to receive capital contributions, gaining “the ability to pay debts and increase the level of investment”.

In Brazil, some teams have already adopted the club-company model, such as Botafogo de Ribeiro Preto (SP), Resende (RJ) and Grmio Osasco Audax (SP). However, the best known case is that of Red Bull Bragantino, formed when the energy company bought the traditional Bragana Paulista (SP) team to facilitate its access to the first division of Brazilian football – Red Bull also owns RB Leipzig, from Germany, and RB Salzburg, from Austria.

In Italy, one of the great schools of world football, the dominant club-company model in the elite. The main teams in the country have owners, and some of them, like Juventus, are even listed on the Stock Exchange. Controlled by the Agnelli family, owner of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Ferrari, the Old Lady became a success story in international football, with an efficient gesture that helped to consolidate its hegemony in Italy.

But not everyone followed the same path. Milan, which belonged to Silvio Berlusconi for more than 30 years, recently passed through the hands of Chinese businessman Li Yonghong and is now run by the American fund Elliott, but remains stagnant.

The rival Inter is controlled by Steven Zhang, heir to the Chinese group Suning, after a brief gesture by the Indonesian Erick Thohir. However, only this season did the Nerazzurra team challenge Juventus again on the pitch.

In recent years, however, several traditional Italian teams have declared bankruptcy because of debts incurred in business management, such as Fiorentina, Parma and Napoli, and their elite returns have always undergone an exchange of ownership.

Other teams, like Modena and Cesena, also broke, but failed to return to the same level. Grafietti said that, in order not to repeat the bad examples of Italian teams, clubs in Brazil need to have an “efficient gesture on and off the field, based on cost control that allows payments on time and within the possibilities of revenues”.

In Brazil, an example that business management does not solve all problems is Figueirense, who came to give W.O. in August in August 2019, due to the lack of payment of salaries. The match was against Cuiab, for the 17th round of Srie B of the Brazilian Championship. Based on this case, Londrina came to court to reverse the relegation to Srie C, but the Superior Court of Sports Justice (STJD) kept the Santa Catarina team in the second division.

“Usually, clubs go bankrupt when the law does not protect them, that is, they either pay their debts or they end. In the Brazilian case, several clubs have been indebted for a long time, but they have always had this kindness of laws and justice, of putting off debts. , to renegotiate and postpone the solution of the problem. In Europe, there are stricter rules, such as financial fair play, which provide for various immediate sanctions for indebted clubs, a way to force management to improve. punies, “said Luiz Antonio Ramos, master of sport management.

Federal deputy Pedro Paulo Carvalho (DEM-RJ), rapporteur for the club-company project, said that the initiative allows clubs to have “legal security” and “access to the market to attract investments, as well as the chance to settle debts. “.

Approved by the Chamber in November, the bill now needs Senate approval. So far, the vote does not have a set date, but it should take place in 2020.

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Renan Tanandone – ANSA

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