Dan Levene


Dan Levene is a journalist of 20 years standing, who has covered the soap opera of Chelsea Football Club for more than a decade. In that time he has reported on the reigns of 10 managers, and a haul of 15 trophies - from Wycombe to Yokohama, via Munich.
  • Chelsea: Why The New Stamford Bridge Is About More Than Ticket Sales

    The modern stadium is football's cash cow: but not in quite the way you might think. Accounts made up to summer 2015 show the disparity between the Premier League's top clubs and, in football terms, the numbers are smaller than you might think. Arsenal's Emirates stadium pulled in £100m in ticket sales over the course of the year, while Old Trafford made £91m for Manchester United. Further behind were Chelsea: matchday income of £71m. But the spread across the three clubs, of £29m, wouldn't buy you a holding midfielder in today's transfer market. Also note that size isn't everything here: the 75,600 capacity Old Trafford bringing in less revenue than the 60,400 capacity Emirates. How so? The answer is pretty straightforward: Arsenal charge more for tickets, and they can do that because the London market supports it. They also have a seating mix which offers a greater proportion to higher yield corporate seats – again lifting the average revenue per seat way beyond what United bring in. Chelsea's plan is a similar one: with the expectation that a 60,000 capacity Stamford Bridge will bring in at least as much as Arsenal get – with the likelihood that it will open as the highest yielding football stadium in the world. The trick in the redevelopment will be to balance that extra corporate capacity with the need to maintain the traditions of the club, and improve the home atmosphere: something most would agree Arsenal have not quite made work in their new stadium. But still, the question remains: why bother, if the revenue differential is so minimal? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHHVuyfDp8U Chelsea's other 2014-15 revenues dwarf the potential increases a new stadium would deliver: £113m in commercial income, and £136m from TV money. And that's before the huge hike in cash brought about by the new broadcasting deal. The answer lies in a quirk of football which makes it different from other entertainment businesses: it is only a truly immersive experience if you are there. Hollywood, or even Bollywood, works because it brings celebrity to your local cinema or home, and you can feel a part of it. But how many of those watching feel compelled to be on-set when the action is happening? With football, the ultimate fan desire is to be there: and, weekly, Premier League grounds see incredible, almost religious pilgrimages, from fans based in far corners of the globe. Whether they see a game of the season, or a goalless draw with Stoke, they go back home and spread the word. Which, in turn, motivates not only more potential pilgrims – but also higher commercial revenues. The one guy from Chicago or Chennai, who spends years of savings on visiting Stamford Bridge,will go home and encourage three others to make the trip, while inadvertently selling 20 new shirts a season through word of mouth. And so you can see how one additional £50 match ticket may actually bring continuing revenues of £500 to £1000 per year. Chelsea have always been clear: there is no compelling business plan, based on mere turnstile revenues, to spend £500m on the rebuild. But the marginal gains in the outside world are potentially huge. None of this is really news: Premier League teams have known this for years. That is exactly why they spend their summers touring the globe for merchandise sales and audience share in pre-season tournaments. The USA is a well trodden path: the potential market there is still only partially tapped, and is of incredible value. The value in Asian markets comes more in the form of the huge numbers that can be targeted. Yes Indonesia and Thailand, both locations for recent Chelsea tours, have growing hyper-rich classes, but the sheer numbers of football hungry-consumers are the main motivation here. Which is why the recently announced summer 2017 Singapore dates are interesting: does this signal a shift to smaller, richer markets; or are Chelsea and other clubs just building-up a broader portfolio? The brands football clubs have become are built on history, heritage and belonging: and by staying-put on the very plot where they were founded, Chelsea maximise the retention of all of those in this new design. The trick will be in turning Chelsea's home into a stadium for the world: while still maintaining all of the aspects that make fans, new and old, want to visit.

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  • Chelsea To Resume Turf War At Wembley

    With Tottenham about to up-sticks and move wholesale to Wembley, it has to be the ultimate in trolling that Chelsea have just bagged the place as a 'home' draw. The Blues look likely to make the home of football their own home, but not until after Spurs have already moved on. ...

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  • Chelsea Composure Will Be Precious During Jose Mourinho’s Return

    Jose Mourinho will have a score to settle at Stamford Bridge on Monday. This came around a bit quicker than anyone expected... After the utter humiliation doled out in October's 4-0 drubbing of Mouriho's Manchester United, the expectation was that Stamford Bridge would have until next season before again welcoming back its tricky ex. ...

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  • Flourishing Pedro Emblematic Of The Antonio Conte Effect At Chelsea

    The Blues boss was clear, following the 3-1 win over Swansea at Stamford Bridge: there is no room for surprises when it comes to Pedro. “Pedro is showing his quality,” he said. “We are not finding out now about his quality.” And he is right. ...

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  • N’Golo Kante Is The Foundation Of Chelsea’s Success

    In a sport where marginal gains bring much success, N'Golo Kante is the clear difference between champions and their chasers – says Dan Levene. It was a trivia question that came up in a Wolverhampton pub last weekend: who are the only two men to win a league title in two consecutive seasons, with two different clubs? (Answer later). N'Golo Kante, who had earlier in the evening been a sub for Chelsea as they stepped past Wolves in the FA Cup, could be set to join an auspicious shortlist come May. ...

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