How to Build a Model Franchise

An excellent article written by Roger Kelly of American Football International Review

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In the past month, the Carlstad Crusaders and London Warriors have won their respective league championships – again. Each organization has earned an impeccable reputation, not only in their own countries, but in others as well. How do they do it? We will try to explain here.

Champions lead the way in Sweden & UK

Sweden’s top American football team, the Carlstad Crusaders, with a history stretching back to 1993, recently capped an outstanding season, capturing their fifth straight Swedish championshipin dominating fashion. The past 10 years have seen the club undergo a development that could serve as a model on how to become a successful club franchise in sports. They should put together their own presentations and translate them into multiple languages.

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Crusaders win their fifth title in Sweden.

Tony Allen is the head coach and president of the London Warriors in Great Britain. TheWarriors waltzed through the British American Football Association‘s (BAFA) Premier league season encountering little resistance, finishing it off with a gritty victory in the British final for their second straight championship. They launched their program in 2005 and have followed a similar path to success. They too should design a presentation.

In both cases, the making of a legacy could very well be the title. It would be a blueprint for other clubs and organizations. Both teams have done it very well, but they did not exactly invent the model. Carlstad president Rikard Borg is the first to tell you this.

“Look at all the other successful sports franchises anywhere in the world,” he said. “They all do the same things right.” Allen echoes this sentiment.

The point is that although there is no paint-by-number formula for building a successful, long-lasting franchise, it certainly can help guide other clubs starting out to slowly find their feet and get on solid ground.

Crusaders’ Formula For Success

Let’s begin by taking a closer look at the Crusaders.

When Rikard Borg’s playing days pretty much ended  in 2004 due to knee problems, he made it clear he wanted to help the club, not simply by coaching, which he was doing. He wanted to help support the core organization any way he could. He had been working as an assistant coach until 2006 when, after a brief but unsuccessful return to the field, he hung his cleats up for good. He wanted to do more than just coach though, so he volunteered to join the board and was voted as president of the Crusaders. This was a testament to the respect he had with the club both on an off the field.

Rikard Borg with trophy 2014

One of the more pleasant duties for the tireless Rikard Borg – carrying out the championship helmets.

“I started to do the recruiting that season, both in terms of coaches and players,” Borg said. “I learned a great deal from my predecessor, Robert Sundberg, and watched and learned from other clubs in Sweden.”

Obviously he learned very well. Since then the club has amassed a record of 94-18, appeared in eight Swedish championships and won the last five. After an undefeated season in which they were never threatened, even in one game, they won their fifth straight title.

“This has been a four to five man organization with the same group meeting every week, almost year round,” Borg explained. “Our agenda is to create sustained development, not only at the senior level, but also down through the lower age groups too.”

What Borg brought to the club was his dedication and football savvy. For example, much of their recruiting targets players from other smaller towns in Sweden. With so many players in theStockholm (translate Big City) region, they realized they could not compete with jobs, entertainment and everything else.

“We focused on players who were brought up in a smaller, more close-knit communities, like we have here,” continued Borg. “We knew they would feel more comfortable here and that the frills of the big  city were not as important.”

Carlstad Crusaders home stadium

Carlstad’s perfectly sized stadium. Sold out again.

That is a lesson in solid management. Know your people and cater to their needs and wishes. “We began attracting younger and younger players and our first task was to find coaches to handle the growing interest among kids and teenagers,” said Kalle Flogman, another diehard Carlstad organizer, who alongside Rikard, has helped take football to another level.

Like Borg, he played for the Crusaders and when he decided that his playing days were over, offered to help. That was in 2009 and he has been a part of the inner circle ever since.

These two have put their stamp on the growth of football in Carlstad and surrounding area but also on its development throughout the country.

Read on for a look at the London Warriors

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