Neftçi Peşəkar Futbol Klubu (“Netfçi”) are the most established professional football club in Azerbaijan. Founded in Baku in 1937, Neftçi played a total of 27 seasons in the top division of the soviet football, until 1991, when the USSR collapsed, and the first league of Azerbaijan was created.
With 9 national league Championships, 6 Cups and 2 Super Cups, Neftçi have been competing against Qarabağ FK for the supremacy of the league, being the only two clubs in Azerbaijan that have not been relegated over the last 32 years.
In 2012, Neftçi became the first Azerbaijani club to advance to the group stage of a European competition, after defeating APOEL in the play-off round of the 2012-13 UEFA Europa League. Since then, the club has been regularly participating in the different editions of the UEFA competitions, even though Neftçi did not manage to go further than the play-off in Europa League (2014-15) and Conference League (2021-22).
The competitive problem of the club when facing other big European contenders is an issue to be addressed, together with the low attendance to the Neftçi Arena, the current stadium of Netfçi, which has an average league occupation of less than 20%. At the same time, the club needs a modernization of its internal governance and its global branding, while also ensuring its financial sustainability in the short-, mid-, and long-term, considering the different scenarios of revenues and expenses depending on the potential sporting outcomes.
In that sense, 4NFC was hired to carry out a consulting project that contributed to the strategic transformation of Neftçi, allowing the club to grow on and off the pitch.
The main goal to be fulfilled with the project was to help Neftçi become the main football reference in the country, attracting both local and international talents, as well as thousands of fans that support the club during match days and stay connected and involved with the club activities during the rest of non-matchdays. In doing so, it was necessary to achieve the following specific objectives:
Guarantee a suitable governance model, defining the suitable roles and responsibilities and integrating the different stakeholders in the decision making of the club.
Ensure a sound and sustainable financial management, with a clear budget allocation that allows the club to achieve different sporting, commercial, social, and infrastructural objectives.
Contribute to the sporting decision-making combining sporting/financial indicators, and pointing the transfer strategy towards specific targets, or proposing the use of data performance analysis or for improving the scouting process.
Ensure the sustainability of the Academy through an operational model which is based on a suitable organizational structure and an adequate allocation of resources, as well as its productivity through an optimized sports development plan, which helps to produce young football talents for internal promotion or external sale.
Get to know the fans to be able to redefine a new identity for the club and prepare suitable strategies that are specifically targeted and recognize, reward and record fan interaction, to help improve match attendance and increase the commercial revenues.
In order to set the strategy for Neftçi, several initiatives were analyzed during the project, based on a thorough contextual understanding of the current situation of the club and its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats from a governance, financial, sporting and fan engagement perspective.
The lack of success on the pitch over the last 10 years had been affecting the figure of Neftçi as the most important football club in the country, losing relevance among the young fan base in favor of Qarabağ.
At the same time, there is a budget gap between both teams that clearly affects the investment on the football side, with Neftçi having a lower squad market value overall and a much worse expected performance on the pitch. However, decreasing the budget gap alone would not be fruitful unless there is a proportional increase of the quality of the team and access to better players, based on an improved recruitment strategy and procedures and increasing the Academy impact and overall development.
In that sense, the local industry’s professionalization has been advancing rapidly, with the Azerbaijani Federation strategically prioritizing the development of Youth Football, Facility Development and Coaching Education, being a turning point for Azeri clubs, who are also facing a budget increase, mainly from League Development Fund.
NEW STRATEGY FOR NEFTÇI
The new strategy proposed for the club was based on a set of reasonable and strategic objectives aimed at ensuring Neftçi’s growth on and off the pitch, and grouped under the following five strategic lines:
Governance and Financial Sustainability
Commercial Growth and Brand Positioning
Social Implication and Human Capital
For each of the objectives, several strategic initiatives were proposed, categorized by their expected impact, budget, timeframe, and responsible Officer, allowing the club to fully comprehend the action plan and clearly define the next steps for the implementation of the strategy, as well as the most suitable budget allocation.
Do not hesitate to contact 4NFC to know more about the project or about how we can help our clients (football clubs or investors) reach their goals through our expertise and services.