Second CONCACAF case study features best practices
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CASE STUDY: Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club (MLS)

CONCACAF presents its second case study as part of the six development tools created by the Club Licensing Department in order to assist leagues and clubs throughout the confederation.

It focuses on the Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club and is intended to highlight and explain the current best practices of an exemplary football organization in the region. 

Founded in Canada, in 1974, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC joined Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2011 as a club with a rich history of success and a bright future.  The Whitecaps’ ownership group has invested significant resources into the club, while a professional administrative structure has been put in place in order to achieve success on and off the pitch. 

The Whitecaps are co-led by President Bob Lenarduzzi and COO Rachel Lewis, which results in a unique reporting system that maximizes the effectiveness of both leaders.  These two executives oversee over 100 employees in nine departments.  There is a clear emphasis on establishing and reaching goals, as well as utilizing clear internal and external communication strategies to ensure that all departments are working together to further improve the organization.

All activities at the club are guided by the mission statement: “To be a champion club on and off the soccer pitch”. 

The club has also defined three values which it strives to embody at all times: unity, winning, and honour.

Both the mission statement and club values set the tone for all Whitecaps’ initiatives, providing employees with a blueprint as they complete their responsibilities.

The day-to-day operations of the following nine departments of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC result in the club functioning as a professional organization: 

  1. Finance and Administration
  2. Communications and Broadcast
  3. Marketing and Digital
  4. Sales and Service
  5. Corporate Partnerships
  6. Partnership Marketing
  7. Events
  8. Soccer Development
  9. Soccer Operations

The Case Study provides an in-depth look at each of these areas in order to examine the elements required to run a professional football club.  A department profile is included for each area, which includes the number of employees, department mission statement, and key responsibilities.  A summary of each department’s activities, processes, goals, philosophies and unique attributes is given to provide practical examples of the day-to-day tasks of club employees. 

The impressively designed organizational structure, plus the hiring of qualified and motivated employees, has translated into success for the Whitecaps in a variety of areas.  From increased attendance to impactful social responsibility programs, the club continues to achieve positive results. It club has reached the MLS Cup Playoffs twice in its four years in the league, a sign that the strategies and plans have translated effectively from the boardroom to the football pitch.

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC represents one of the highest standards of professional football in CONCACAF, but lessons can be learned by clubs at all levels through a thorough examination of this Case Study in detail and adapting some of the elements to its unique realities.  The CONCACAF Club Licensing Department will continue to work with clubs throughout the region in order to assist with these improvements.