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FC Barcelona: Management and Marketing

Paper Type: Free Assignment Study Level: University / Undergraduate
Wordcount: 3262 words Published: 17th Nov 2020

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The purpose of this essay is to examine FC Barcelona in terms of culture and explain how this affects their strategic management. FC Barcelona is a football club founded by Joan Gamper on 29 November 1899. The club plays in the La Liga, Spanish top division and owns the Camp Nou, the biggest stadium in Europe. It is a member‐owned organization controlled by its members (supporters) and not a private company. These members elect the club president every four years’ (Hamil et al., 2010). The club wasn’t an overnight success, it had gone through periods of catastrophe. Johan Cruyff was an instrumental figure in the club’s success. Cruyff brought a Dutch philosophy called ‘Total Football’ – everybody is comfortable with the ball, everybody attacks and defend as a team and integrated it to the club. This philosophy brought an identity to the club (Hughes, 2019). It has become a criterion for a Barcelona manager. It was Pep Guardiola who truly fulfilled the criteria with his philosophy ‘Tiki-Taka’ which had its root in Cruyff’s ‘Total Football’.  During his tenure, the club played its best football. the club had won all the possible trophies during his first season and managed to win the champions league again in his third season. To examine the club critically, it is essential to understand what culture and sport mean. Culture can be defined as ‘the pattern of values, norms, beliefs, attitudes and assumptions that may not have been articulated but shape the ways in which people behave and things get done’ (Armstrong, 2017:146). ‘Sport means all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels’ (Council of Europe, 2001).

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Throughout the years the club has been the bastion of Catalan identity, democracy and attractive football. Barcelona always represented the Catalan province. The Club included Catalonia flag in the logo and made Catalan the club’s official language. The Club was suppressed during Franco’s dictatorship and his troops killed Josep Sunol (Club President- 1935-36) but it increased their solidarity. FC Barcelona represents the people, the nation of Catalonia. While leaving the club as a player, Cruyff suggested the president to build an academy if the club wanted to compete with other big teams in Europe. This gave birth to the La Masia, club’s academy. The main idea was to train the players in a way that would ease their integration in the first team instead of buying players from other clubs. When Cruyff returned as the manager he was first one to give debuts to academy players (Hughes, 2019). The academy became a pillar in the club’s prosperity and saw many great players come through the ranks like Guardiola, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol. The club’s philosophy of playing attractive football paid off on and off the pitch. FC Barcelona is now one of the most successful clubs in the world having won 91 trophies, which is greater than their arch-rivals Real Madrid who won 90 trophies. The club’s revenue increased by 324.4 million euros between 2008-09 to 2017-2018, initially being 366 million euros and increased to 690.4 million euros (Lange, 2019).  The philosophy and the values created a culture which led to the success of the club with one of its main criteria to all the members of the organisation being ‘find the balance between playing the most attractive, most spectacular football possible and efficiency (Hughes, 2019).’

FC Barcelona truly is ‘Me Que Un Club’ (More than a club).

When analysing the culture of FC Barcelona, it can easily be established that the club has a rich vein of history, value and philosophy. The insistence of the club to play attractive football and represent Catalan identity has classed with the ‘Macho culture’ in Deal and Kennedy cultural model (Beech and Chadwick, 2013). During the start of the 1996-97 season, Sir Bobby Robson was appointed as the manager of the club who had to fill in the boots of Johan Cruyff. When Barcelona won the game at home with a score of 8-0, the fans booed and whistled during the game showing their disappoint as the club were not playing attractive football. Even though the club had won two trophies during his time, they decided to sack him and stick with the philosophy of attractive football and efficiency. This emphasises the Macho Culture which relates to high risk and quick feedback (Beech and Chadwick, 2013). To survive in the culture of FC Barcelona, the qualities Humility, Hard Work and Team Player are a necessity. During Guardiola’s second season in charge, Zlatan Ibrahimović arrived as the club’s second most expensive signing (£62.5M), but he never had the qualities required to culturally fit in the club. He wouldn’t make sacrifices for the team, arrived late to the training and refused to listen to his coach. FC Barcelona decided to sell him the next season as the cultural values were under a threat. The club had a loss of £35.5 million and lost one of the promising talents of the world(Transfermarkt, no date). This further reinforces  the Macho culture as it has characteristics of high financial stakes (Beech and Chadwick, 2013). 

(Openlearn, no date)

Culture is imperative in an organisation. It creates a feeling of identity among personnel and commitment to the organization and creates a competitive edge to enable the members (especially new members) in the organization to well understand acceptable behaviour and social system stability (Sun, 2008). La Masia is a perfect example. It acts as a guardian of the organisation principles where the players are bought up with club values and philosophy. Its distinctiveness creates a competitive edge. Furthermore, it imparts cohesiveness as the club use a style of play which needs teamwork. (Hatum and Silvestri, 2015). Culture can make the most important daily activities, repeatedly reinforced, soon become standard practise. As said by the club legend Xavi- ‘It was all about rondo (Hughes, 2019).’ Rondo was introduced by Cruyff and now it is practised every training session. Rondo simulates most of the game like situations which helps the players to make a correct decision. Organizational culture is a powerful tool for improving business performance and for a football club, it includes results. if an organisation deviates from its culture, it has negative consequences. Before the start of the 2017-18 season, the club decided to appoint to Ernesto Valverde as the manager, who still retains his position. His time at the club has been questionable. The club is slowly moving away from their philosophy of playing attractive football and efficiency. The promotion of the youth products into the first team has significantly reduced and expensive signings have been made by the club who couldn’t fit in the club. Philippe Coutinho arrived as the clubs most expensive signing for a fee of £130million and second most expensive transfer in the world but after a year and a half at the club, he has been loaned out to Bayern Munich (Transfermarkt, no date). Rival clubs have taken advantage of it. Real Madrid managed to win three consecutive champions league titles whereas Barcelona are struggling in the competition since their last successful campaign being in the 2014-15 season.

Managing a colossal club like FC Barcelona is not easy. ‘FC Barcelona today is one of the most important sporting institutions in the world, which is why it is considered and known to be ‘more than a club’ and its identity symbols are recognised all around the world (FC Barcelona, 2017:Online).’ The Club take the help of strategic management for the growth of the club. Strategic management is ‘The process of planning, implementing, controlling, and evaluating many different strategies that are all aimed at fulfilling the vision of the sport organisation’ (Parent et al. 2012: 122).  It assists in making fundamental decisions about the future direction of an organisation (Lynch, 2015).

FC Barcelona works in a complex environment. Analysing the environment is a critical part of Strategic management and SWOT framework helps to analyse the environment (Pickton and Wright, 1988).



  1. Attractive style of play.
  2. La Masia.
  3. Cultural values, history and philosophy.
  4. Strong brand awareness
  1. Bad relations with the Spanish government.
  2. Requires high quality players.



  1.  Exploit new markets - Asia.
  2. Increasing number of tourists.
  1. Competition from rival clubs – Real Madrid.
  2. High debt.


The club is world-renowned for their style of play. The attractive style helps the club to draw a lot of fans, Barcelona has one of the highest average attendance (78,034) in Europe (Sherlock, 2018). La Masia plays an important role in the club. Due to clubs’ different style, the players are trained with the club’s values and philosophy which would ease their integration in the first team and can make a profit by selling players. The cultural values and philosophy bring a separate identity to the club and creates a sense of belonging and connection with the fans. The club has a strong brand awareness which can be backed by their followers on social media. Barcelona has a total of 214.4 million followers on three social media platforms – Facebook (103M), Instagram (80.1M) and Twitter (31.3 M).  The club has more subscribers (5.8M) on YouTube compared to any other.


The club doesn’t have a good relationship with the Spanish government. The representation of Catalonia being the reason for this. When Barcelona signed Alfredo Di Stéfano, the laws for foreign players would change every day so that he could end up at Real Madrid and which he did. The Spanish government has always preferred Real Madrid (West, 2014). Another weakness for the clubs is the limited amount of quality players. It is not easy to play for Barcelona, very few players have the Capability to do it. If the club can’t produce suitable academy talents, they must bring in players who suit their style. The club then has to pay a large sum of money for the players’ service.


Even though Barcelona is a world-renowned club, it hasn’t exploited the market in Asia. Countries like China and India where the popularity of the sport is increasing rapidly, Barcelona can invest to attract the fans and increase their awareness throughout the globe. Also, Barcelona is the 17th most visited city in the world by tourists. The city attracts approximately 9 million tourists per year(Millington, 2019). The club can take advantage of the fact and make strategies to attract the people to the stadium for matches or to buy the club merchandise etc.


Rival clubs like Real Madrid and Manchester United pose a threat to the club. These rival clubs always try to create a competitive edge by their side by bringing in star players or by winning trophies. During 2009, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were the two best players in the world. Messi was running the show for Barcelona, so to compete with them, Real Madrid went on to sign Cristiano Ronaldo. These two clubs now divide the world into two halves’ when playing against each other. Operating a club with a stature of FC Barcelona is not easy. The club requires a lot of finances to perform its activities and buy new player which takes the club into debts. The club has a high debt value of $238.92M as on 30TH June 2019 (FC Barcelona,2019).

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La Masia players after getting their chance in the first team, sometimes don’t live up to the expectations. The club naturally decides to buy a player during the transfer window to fill that position. Bringing in a player to FC Barcelona is a vigorous effort. The Club not only analyses the player’s quality but also gets to know the behaviour and personality of the player. The club then later decide whether he could fit within the cultural values and philosophy of the club. The same applies to the manager and appointment of Pep Guardiola signifies it. During the 2007-08 season, the club was in decline and results were bad. Barcelona decided to part ways with Frank Rijkaard. Mourinho was the clear favourite to become the next manager, he even gave a presentation to the club of his plans. Mourinho was a world-renowned coach with a lot of success but the club decided to appoint Pep Guardiola as the next manager to everyone’s amusement (Hughes, 2019). Guardiola knew what it meant to play and represent the club. He was already familiar with the cultural values and ethics. This played a major role in his success. The club’s decision to stick with the cultural values paid off with their strategic management as well because, during his first season, the club won all the possible trophies and bought in a lot of revenue and increased their popularity.

Barcelona has its own unique culture, which is different from other football clubs. The culture was developed as the club progressed throughout the years. The culture integrated into the club shouldn’t be ignored by the members of the organisation as it creates a competitive edge and offers coordination and commitment. Culture can lead to success. Hughes (2019) said choosing the particular pathway left an incredible mark on their spot and its history. The impact organization culture can have on a Football club like FC Barcelona is huge, it ensures the organisation to pursue the right path in a dynamic environment.



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