In Depth

Vincent Kompany: defender, leader and a master of football business

Manchester City captain calls for Premier League ticket prices to be cut

With his ice-cool persona and ability to read the game, Vincent Kompany has long been regarded as one of the most intelligent footballers. Now he has proved that his brains are not just on the field of play but also in the classroom.

It was announced last week that Kompany had graduated with a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the Alliance Manchester Business School. Today the Manchester City and Belgium defender has been making headlines with the findings from his studies.

In this profile we look at Kompany the footballer, linguist, charity supporter and businessman. There’s more than meets the eye to this Premier League star…

Kompany: the footballer

Since they were taken over by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008, Manchester City have spent mind-boggling sums of money on the world’s best footballers.

In August of that year, the £6million transfer of a Belgian defender from SV Hamburg hardly set the back pages alight, but ask any City fan who has been one of the club’s best ever signings and many would say Vincent Kompany.

In the decade since he arrived in the Premier League, the Man City captain has played more than 300 games for his club. He has won the Premier League (twice), the FA Cup, the League Cup (twice) and Community Shield.

City legend Francis Lee was so impressed with Kompany’s performances that in 2011 he hailed him as “sensational”.

Speaking to talkSPORT, Lee said: “He’s one of the best I’ve seen, in fact, and I apologise to Dave Watson and Tommy Booth for this, he’s certainly the best Manchester City centre-half I’ve ever seen.”

While a number of injuries have stopped Kompany from appearing more for City, he’s still a major player for the team and will be a vital member of a squad that is still in contention for four trophies this season. Even when he’s not on the pitch, his influence in the dressing room is key.

On the international stage, Kompany has been part of Belgium’s “golden generation”. He has won 72 caps for his national team and has been captain on many occasions.

After missing Euro 2016 through injury, Kompany will be hoping to get back to full fitness and compete for a place on the plane to Russia for this summer’s World Cup finals.

Kompany: the master of (football) business

While injuries have certainly hampered his appearances on the pitch for City and Belgium, they do mean that he’s had to think about life when his football career ends.

With ambitions to pursue his interests, Kompany signed up for an MBA at the Alliance Manchester Business School.

Upon graduating at the end of December with a merit, he told the University of Manchester website that he was keen to continue his education and credited his late mother with teaching him the importance of education from an early age. 

“It felt like a fitting tribute to my mother to pursue my academic career by studying an MBA,” he said.

Earning the MBA was in part a bid to get to grips with his own finances. “When you’re playing football at the top levels, even managing your personal finances starts to become like running a business,” he said.

“It was important to me that I understood what my accountant was talking about and that I could confidently assess a business plan to take ownership of this area of my life. I’m an entrepreneur at the core so have a natural interest in business. The MBA was about backing this up with academic learning and research.”

‘Premier League ticket prices should be reduced’

As part of his degree dissertation project, Kompany looked at how the Premier League’s professional football clubs could “benefit from home game advantage and achieve game-changing levels of improvement”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Wake Up To Money show today, he said that clubs must find the right balance in terms of ticket prices for home games. Kompany believes that if the “real” fans can afford to attend games, they will make more noise and create a better atmosphere, both inside the stadium and for TV audiences.

“You get better home advantage depending on the atmosphere that you can create within your facilities, and that is linked to the people who enter your stadiums,” he told the BBC. “At what point do you decide we are actually now going to make sure that if it is a TV product, it is the best product in the world? Meaning not just the best players, but the best atmosphere in the stadium; meaning the right people in the right place.”

People who live for the club are probably more attached to the club than anyone else, he says. “But those are probably not always the guys who can afford it. There’s a business angle to it. If you tie it to how somebody feels when they go to the stadium – ‘I love this club, I want to support this club’ – you make more noise.”

He added: “That is a proven factor in home advantage. You win more games at home – every point has a value attached. For every pound that you lower the ticket price, if you can recover it in that home advantage, you maybe won’t have a loss.”

Tapping into untapped markets could help clubs prosper, he says. “If you assume the Premier League gets bigger and you gain markets in China, India, Africa, America – because the world population is so big, you could fill the grounds with tourists.

“You can do it, and make more money. They’d just come and spend £400 a ticket, it’s nothing for them because it is a once in a lifetime experience, like going to an NBA or NFL game. The question is if that affects your product, as the Premier League.”

It’s a difficult decision to make unless the clubs join forces, he says. “Once they are aligned [In the Premier League] it is completely possible, and adds value to the league worldwide.”

Kompany: the linguist and charity supporter

Born in Brussels in 1986, Kompany first played professional football in Belgium for Anderlecht at the age of 17 before moving to Germany with Hamburg and then to England with Man City.

Well travelled and obviously well educated, it doesn’t come as a surprise to learn that Kompany is fluent in four languages: English, French, Dutch and German.

The Daily Telegraph describes him as a “public symbol of this united generation”. Away from football and his studies he’s also a keen supporter of charities.

“I didn’t start doing this because I’m a football player,” Kompany told the South China Morning Post when asked about his charity work. 

“My family did it before and we didn’t have a lot of money. I think it has to be something that is part of your education for good.”

In September last year it was announced that the City captain would become the first international ambassador for the charity SOS Children’s Villages. In 2016 he revealed that he would donate all of his Belgium match appearance fees to charity for the rest of his career. 

Speaking to the Daily Mirror he said: “In the coming years in the national team I want to give up the total sum I would be entitled to from the national team. 

“I will donate it to charities that are special to me. This will motivate me even more and especially get me more fun moments with our fans and with this fantastic team. All that looking ahead to 2018, and why not further?”

What the future holds for the City skipper

Competing for four trophies and with the World Cup finals on the horizon, Kompany will be gunning to regain his fitness and make this a special year on the pitch after his academic achievements off it.

For now his focus is on City and Belgium, but after finishing his studies his path is clear.

He said: “Although I want to continue playing football as long as possible, I may look to use this combination of academic learning and years of playing experience in the future.”

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