The Clash of Generations: How Social Media Feuds Mask the Evolution of Football Clubs

Social networks are a place where even top business men are able to slip into the debate as if they were sewn from a fourth price group. Rational debate fades away and spills over into a stream of emotive shouting that obscures a very important topic.

The boss of Slavia Prague managed to do it last time. Jaroslav Tvrdík is known for writing what he really thinks or knows on social networks, although it is not always appropriate. It’s as if he has forgotten his managerial intuition and is rather returning to the role of the politician he was. But during his political era, there were no social networks, so he makes up for it as the head of a football club. And he enjoys the media coverage of his messages…

But there is another aspect. Clash of generations.

While in Slavia there is now a tandem of two gentlemen who were young and predatory in the 90s, a new generation is starting in Slovan Liberec. The one who doesn’t remember the 90s and has a different view of the world.

To a world where you build something from scratch. It’s innovative, you brand it, and through marketing you get sympathy and economic and business success at the same time.

Tvrdík has experience. Is he losing his ferocity and replacing it with irony?

Slavia Praha and Slovan Liberec are two first league clubs that are at a different point in their development.

Jaroslav Tvrdík has accomplished a lot. He took care of the resurrection of Slavia and took it back to the European Cups, where it is able to advance even from the basic group. He even managed to find a new prospective partner who can stabilize the club financially. For everything else, the owner Pavel Tykač retained Jaroslav Tvrdík.

Ten he revealedthat he wants to stay in Slavia for another five years. “If the club will change targets and the owner does not wish to recall and replace me, I consider it necessary to keep what I promised him to buy the club. This means that I will lead the club for another five years. I also greatly appreciate that Jindřich Trpišovský approached this from the very beginning,” said Tvrdík.

In other words, the new owner of Slavia needs Tvrdík for a “bridging period” of five years. Which is good and bad at the same time. Why?

Is Tvrdík afraid of fierce competition?

It is quite natural that top managers have big plans and goals when they take up their positions. Success is measured by whether plans turn into reality and economic success. In the case of Slavia and Tvrdík, it was successful.

In 2022, Slavia changed its visual identity, decided to step into marketing and changed owners. This year she played in the Europa League with AC Milan. And Sparta is fighting for first place in the league table.

When Tvrdík got used to the fact that the league is basically about Slavia, Sparta and Viktoria Plzeň, suddenly “some” Ondřej Kania appears. For the “big boys” it is like a revelation, because at the age of the new owner of Slovan Liberec they have daughters and sons or, in the case of Tvrdík, a son-in-law.

Here, the big ego of the older gentleman is simply clashing, and he is confronted by the big ego of the young gentleman. The difference is that the older master already wants to maintain the conquered positions, while the young master is ready to launch a predatory counterattack.

And therein lies the crux of the problem.

The clash of the egos of the old master and the young master pushes aside a rational debate about the quality of the league

Let’s show it to Jaroslav Tvrdík’s communication on the X network.

Ondřej Kania officially became the majority owner of Slovan Liberec. In an interview for the club’s website, he answered questions from fans, where, among other things, he talked about Slovan’s ambitions or budget in the new era.

Although no one asked Tvrdík anything, the boss of Slavia typed these words on the keyboard, which he immortalized on the social network. “Ondřej Kania is a god. I strive for reforms in Czech football, he immediately aspires to be the leader of Central European football. For 130 million to make European competitions every year and compete with three teams that each managed to advance from the basic group of their European competition, it will be in the textbooks. Just a fighter who attracts attention and entertains,” said Tvrdík.

Jaroslav Tvrdík, although he probably doesn’t realize it himself, said more about himself with these words than he probably wanted. He apparently decided to start a negative PR communication line towards the new owner of Slovan Liberec. And if it wasn’t planned, but just an emotional shot, then it’s probably even worse.

Jaroslav Tvrdík simply showed that he is a classic aging man whose daughter is married and while he has “leverage” on his son-in-law, a young man of the same age is suddenly his rival in the football business, who has a clear vision.

Jaroslav Tvrdík simply got scared. Maybe he just hoped that he would enjoy hard-earned success for the next five years in Slavia. But someone appeared here who wants to expand the group of three clubs by another unit. He wants to increase attendances, create a marketing machine, attract players, top the league table and play in European cups.

Kania defends his wife from Tvrdík

If it were all on a business level, then it can be understood. But Tvrdík couldn’t stand it and “rubbed” against the 28-year-old wife of the new owner of Slovan Liberec.

“I enjoy the whole day. When, for example, he sent his wife to the LFA League Committee for Liberec. I would try and design this at home just once. Simply refreshing,” responded Tvrdík.

Kania has already responded to this, having previously promised that when he becomes the official owner of Slovan, he will stop commenting on the social network. But this time, according to his words, he had to react. “Petra is an economics engineer with a red diploma, at the age of 28 a high-ranking auditor of the largest banks in the Czech Republic and SK, who oversees our joint investment of a quarter of a billion as the chairman of the board of directors. She was the only woman on the LFA board. I believe there will be more in the future,” Kania said.

And he wrote to Tvrdík with a postscript: “I confirm the words of the Chairperson. In the meantime, I cleaned the house and went shopping.’

Just a clash of generations. Jaroslav Tvrdík apparently did not understand the change of times…

Is Kania naive or really a breath of fresh air in the Czech league?

What did Ondřej Kania say that it was worth Tvrdík being “embarrassed”?

Among other things, Kania repeats on the club’s website that he wants Slovan to regularly reach at least the preliminary rounds of European cups and that he should be compared to Slavia, Sparta and Pilsen in the Czech Republic. It was to these words that Tvrdík originally reacted.

According to a recent estimate by the newspaper Sport, Prague’s Slavia manages a total annual budget of around 800 million crowns, Sparta’s 750 million and Pilsen’s 300 million crowns.

“Cleaned up by the costs of transfers and youth, we plan to budget the club’s expenses at a level exceeding 130 million crowns. It was essential, and we said it with Honza Nezmar as the new general manager, that as majority shareholders, my wife and I will not insist on a positive balance of the transfer policy in the first two seasons,” said Kania.

And at the same time he added how he wants to achieve this.

“In other words, if we manage to sell well, we are ready to invest all the money back into buying new players. If we were to add these items, the budget would increase by tens of millions of crowns, but it is always a current decision,” said Kania.

He added that the club will do everything to get more fans to the stadium. But he doesn’t want to go the route of giving out free tickets. The new director of business and marketing, Štěpán Hanuš, who previously worked as a spokesperson for LFA or head of marketing at neighboring FK Jablonec, is also supposed to help with this. Rebranding is also planned in Liberec.

Kania wants to try a recipe from Western Europe

At the same time, Ondřej Kania says nothing other than what he sees in Western Europe. He proceeds in the same way as with his business in education. He wants to apply what works elsewhere. And it is obvious that the business model works.

It is nice that someone wants to implement a successful model from abroad in Czech conditions. It’s called benchmarking. It is a strategic management tool first introduced by Xerox Corporation in the early 1980s.

It is a continuous and systematic process of comparing and measuring the products, processes and methods of one’s own organization with those recognized as suitable for this measurement, in order to define the objectives of improving one’s own activities.

We do not know which clubs Ondřej Kania has chosen as the ones he wants to approach. Maybe it’s Bayer Leverkusen, which will unexpectedly “fire” Bayern Munich, which is similarly shocked as Jaroslav Tvrdík is probably now.

Football clubs in Western Europe are increasing the capacity of stadiums, investing in marketing and merchandising. The more fans, the more money.

It’s time to narrow down the Premier League and create top clubs with more fan involvement

The goal is to increase the attractiveness of the league, the number of fans, more money for the top clubs. It is nice that Slovan Liberec wants to be back where it was under the new owner. The club from the north of Bohemia was the league champion three times (2001-2002, 2005-2006, 2011-2012). He also played in European cups.

It would be nice if more new people interested in raising the Czech league appeared now. Both Slavia and Sparta need fierce opponents at home, so that during matches like in Milan or Liverpool they don’t look like clubs from the league competition, which does not have adequate quality.

This should be a societal debate of the football public. And people like Jaroslav Trvrdík or Ondřej Kania should be the ones who start these debates and moderate them. Not “chatting” on a social network, when an older dad with experience chastises his younger son with enthusiasm and always wants to tell him what to do and how to do it.


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