A company’s organizational structure constitutes of activities such as task allocation, coordination and supervision. These tasks are directed towards the achievement of the organization’s goals. An organization structure acts as the perspective through which individuals can see the organization and its relationship to the environment. (Dicksee, 1980) Company’s structure will thus determine its mode of operation and overall performance. The structure allows the allocation of tasks and responsibilities to different entities such as the branch, department, workgroup or individual. The organizational structure affects the company by providing the foundations for standard operating procedures and routines. It also determines which individual should participate in the decision making process and how their views affect the organization. (Sen, 2008)
Aston villa is an English premiership club founded in 1874 and is based in Birmingham. The club ownership is currently under American businessman Randy Lerner since 2006. The club adopts a typical UK club organization plan where the board is at the top of its hierarchy. The board includes the club owner Randy Lerner as the chairman, a President Emeritus, Chief Executive officer, Chief Financial Officer and a Non-executive officer. The latter three have defined roles under the board as the leaders of business operations under whom are the club secretary, head of merchandising, , head of consumer sales, Head of IT, Head of media, head of facilities, Head of marketing and communication, Head of human resources, Head of finance, Head of security and the community manager. Along the business operations docket is the football operations department, It which is headed by the First team manager. Under the First team manager are assistant managers, head of football operations, football coaches, Team physiotherapist, football academy manager and grounds managers. Football players fall below these managers and coaches in the organization structure. Other workers in the club who consist of over 1700 and an additional 500 on match days fall below these managers in the organization hierarchy. (Moxley, 2007)
Nature of the business environment
Recent advances in media football industry have dramatically changed the football club – media relationship. This calls for clubs to be up to date with the recent media advancements and also the ever growing media critique. For instance in the 1980s the rise of television dramatically changed the view of football turning it to a marketable commodity. It changed football’s political economy and made it an important part of human culture stimulated by large coverage and exposure levels. Competition to “older” sources of media was also increased during this period.
Changes in the media also affected football clubs, in 1992 clubs became larger organizations via investments and subsequent redistribution of money through television broadcast. This resulted in clubs changing their organization structure an example being the listing of Tottenham hotspurs in the stock exchange in 1983. It also changed the way many clubs communicated externally. This resulted in the employment of the press or media officers to deal with the ever increasing demand from the public for news and information from players and managers. A greater commercial focus was also created as clubs evaluated various ways of broadening their income stream. They developed a more professionally oriented organizational structure through the appointment of a chief executive and marketing or commercial directors.
There are various types of ownership developed by football companies. They include concentrated ownership where one or just a few individual own majority of the company shares. Diversified ownership with concentrated control where only a few individuals with large shareholding hold control and diversified ownership where shareholding is diverse (Great Britain, 1977). In Aston villa, after the acquisition by Randy Lerner in 2006, the ownership changed to more of concentrated ownership. In the Aston villa organization structure there is a Media officer who manages the clubs local and national external communication. He/She is supported by specialized individuals in the communication chain such as a website editor and a match day program editor.
However, a survey conducted by (Ananthan et.al 2010) suggests that the club can improve its degree of communication. This is because only half of the surveyed Aston Villa supporters stated that they were comfortable with the information they received about the club. A case of dissatisfaction by the fans can be explained by the sacking of team manager Graham Taylor in 2003 and replacement with David O’Leary, the result of this replacement was a significant crowd disturbance in the derby game against Birmingham city. (Bose, 2012) During that time, the media and club supporters were highly critical of the clubs communication strategy each campaigning for a regime change at the club. A further highlight of the club-media relationship was when the media criticized the taking over by Randy Lerner. They cited that since his takeover he had blocked all attempts to dialogue with the media and seemed never to have any plans to open talks. Further communication loopholes were noted in 2011 when the club decided to appoint Alex McLeish as the new club manager. Aston villa fans were not happy with the move and protested against his appointment. They argued that they cannot accept a manager from their bitter city rival Birmingham city. The management decision fell under more pressure in 2012 when some villa supporters paid for an advert in a local daily. They wanted McLeish Sacked. (Lovejoy, 2011)
Organization structure analysis
The subsequent rows between the media, club management and supporters at Aston villa prove a weakness in the clubs organization structure. This can majorly be blamed on the communication department. One can conclude that the communication department has not been maintaining good club – media relationships and may require restructuring. (Mahajan, 2011) Also, the tall hierarchical club organization structure may be of influence especially in the decision making process where the club owner has the last say regarding the clubs ultimate decision. The result is a biased decision which does not work well with fans and an interesting story for the media. The Aston villa management system could also be viewed as very bureaucratic. The organization operates by some stringent rules and customs that did not change even after the onset of new ownership. The Aston villa management should thus consider: that there is a hyper-competition in the media industry and taking rigid positions will only give the “new” media much publicity. The environment has a key impact on the Club's failure or success. Organizations that can make strategic changes at the right points can maintain their competitive strength. That there is a reciprocal relationship between strategy and organizational structure, this can affect the club’s focus and ability to implement its goals. (Bang, 2002)
In the first strategic imperative Nadler states that an organization should increase its clock speed, he argues about the importance of time and its high significance. If the management of Aston villa listened to the fans, then a string of a bad result would have been avoided. The structure also fails to include an exclusive public relations department that works jointly with the media relation department thus reducing environmental friction. According to the second imperative the Club should be ready to break up and reorganize the traditional value chain. The club should learn to change its underlying strategy on a regular basis and should not wait yearly to implement its goals. The organization setup of the company should be one that matches the market place and not one that constantly results in conflicts.(Nadler and Tuchman 1999)
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