ESSMA's new & innovative format: Masterminds

With the Masterminds, ESSMA wants to accelerate and stimulate better stadium operations in different fields. The purpose is an ‘end to end’ solution from members to members: with the input of the Mastermind group, ESSMA executes research, surveys and interviews that result into concrete best practices and toolkits for members. Two key tracks will be highlighted during a seminar at the next ESSMA Summit in Amsterdam.

History of Mastermind

During the covid period, we introduced the Mastermind groups to digitally spar about future challenges in the stadium industry to make the reopening of stadiums as optimal as possible. We noticed a lot of interest in the Masterminds because sitting together with people in the same function from the same industry results in a lot of interesting knowledge sharing.

Transformation of Mastermind

The EXCO decided to maintain the format and transform it into a sounding board to provide valuable input to the research and intelligence of the organization. Four Mastermind groups are formed: (i) Safety & Security management led by John Beattie (Arsenal FC), Mickel Lauritsen (Brøndby IF) (ii) Facility managementt & Operations led by Jürgen Muth (Allianz Arena), Francesco Gianello (Juventus FC) (iii) Marketing & Commercial led by Arnaud Delpech (Paris Saint-Germain), Dimitri Huygen (ESSMA) (iv) Pitch management led by Yves De Cocker (GrassMax Systems), Jonathan Calderwood (Paris Saint-Germain).

The process that we followed: 

  • A physical meeting of every Mastermind group took place during the ESSMA Summit in Warsaw (March ’23) to define key topics for research & intelligence projects for 2023;
  • A post Summit Survey was sent to all ESSMA members to prioritize topics and maximize input of members;
  • The EXCO & Management Team transformed the input in concrete next steps and storyline during 2023.

Output & results of the Mastermind

On the following two topics, we will create a survey, execute a number of interviews and translate into a concrete ‘toolkit’ with best practices. This will be presented at the Summit in Amsterdam on the second day during a 2 hours workshop:

TOPIC 1: Media & Commerce > "Building a fan base": customer service is king (i) Ticketing & tools - (ii) F&B - (iii) Merchandise - (iv) Actions/promotions - (v) Membership programmes
TOPIC 2: Safety & Security > "Stewarding": (i) Stewarding as customer services - (ii) Stewarding attraction - (iii) Stewarding training programmes - (iv) Stewarding Retention 

In addition, we will execute interviews and provide best practices that will be shown at the Summit in Amsterdam:

TOPIC 1: Media & Commerce > "How to monetise club content and strengthen your brand?": presentation 
TOPIC 2: Media & Commerce > "Centralising Fan Data": panel debate 
TOPIC 3: Facility Management > "Sustainable supply chain and operations": presentation 
TOPIC 4: Safety & Security > "Safe standing: the way forward": presentation
TOPIC 5: Media & Commerce > "MICE business model: maximising non-matchday revenue streams": presentation 
TOPIC 6: Stadium Development > "What do you expect to see in the stadium of the future?": panel

Pitch Management topics will be launched at our Pitch Management event in Leicester on 4 and 5 September. Here, the following topics will be discussed:

TOPIC 1: Cost efficient pitch management 
TOPIC 2: Sustainable pitch management
TOPIC 3: How to build a training ground?  

In addition, our leagues & federations have regular progress calls, this is led by Piotr Bielecki (Ekstraklasa), Joachim Baur (DFL Bundesliga), Frederic Veraghaenne (Belgian FA) and Ludwig Sneyers (ESSMA). Our strategic partners, such as European Club Association (ECA) & Sports Grounds Safety authority (SGSA) contribute to the MM groups as well.

Do you join our Mastermind?

Our Mastermind groups are still open for additional participants, feel free to reach out to Yari Van Minsel, research & intelligence manager of ESSMA to express your interest ( We are happy to welcome you during the upcoming session.


Posted on 16/05/2023 in: