Harvard Business School Wednesday released an extensive case study exploring the global growth of Paris Saint-Germain since the club was taken over by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011. Professor Anita Elberse, renowned for her expertise in the sports, media, and entertainment space, and Harvard graduate David Moreno, visited the club earlier in the 2019-20 season, conducting a series of interviews with President Nasser al-Khelaifi, along with club management, first and youth team players and staff, and the club’s principal partner Accor Live Limitless, amongst various stakeholders.

Harvard case study explores the rise of PSG
French President (second from right) and Paris Saint-Germain’s President Nasser al-Khelaifi (second from left) speak with the club’s players Thiago Silva (left), Neymar (centre) and Kylian Mbappe prior to the French Cup final against Saint-Etienne on Friday at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris. AFP

The independent 30-page case study investigates the meteoric rise of the club and the ambitious efforts taken on and off the pitch to elevate its standing as one of the most globally recognised sports brands in the world. The piece pays particular attention to PSG’s commercial growth and industry leading brand diversification efforts and internationalisation, investment in core infrastructure including stadium hospitality and the brand-new state of the art training centre, and the club’s talent investment policy (across first and youth team sports, and commercial staff).
Extracts from the case, reflecting on the club’s strategic direction and subsequent results, include:
“By March 2020, nearly nine years since QSI acquired PSG in 2011, the results of the club’s new strategic direction were clearly visible—on and off the field.”
“The [Club’s] investment had paid off on and off the field. Since 2011, PSG had amassed 22 national trophies, including six French league titles and four French cups. And the club had steadily risen in the ranking of Europe’s highest-grossing soccer clubs, now claiming the fifth spot”
“On the business side, PSG had shown strong growth since QSI had taken over. Revenues were up from €95 million in the 2010-2011 season to €637 million in the 2018-2019 season”
“Helped by the improvements in seating and hospitality, match day revenues had quadrupled, from €24 million in 2010-2011 to €115 million in 2018-2019.”
“Commercial revenues, covering sponsorship, merchandising and partnerships, increased more than twelvefold, from €26 million to €366 million, in eight years”
“PSG’s own social media presence had significantly grown as well. Whereas the club had half a million followers across platforms in 2011, that count was up to nearly 81 million followers by 2020”
“PSG’s executives set out to connect more widely with other cultures beyond soccer—with other sports, but also with areas such as fashion, music, film and television, and art.”
Harvard Business School is widely recognised as the premier business educational institution globally, pioneering in thought leadership in the fields of strategy, management, marketing, and various other commercial disciplines. The school is credited with creating the first ever MBA class in 1908. “It was a pleasure to welcome Professor Elberse to our Club and to grant her the access to conduct a candid review of the Paris Saint-Germain story so far,” said al-Khelaifi.
“We take great pride in the speed and magnitude of progress made since 2011, and our objectives today for the club are as great as they have ever been. Elevating the club to its current status has been on a personal level both highly challenging, yet truly rewarding. Paris Saint-Germain will continue in its pursuit to be one of the three leading sports institution globally, by all measures —revenues, brand strength, societal impact, and most importantly, sports success. We hope to bring pride to the growing number of our passionate and loyal supporters around the world.”

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