With just a few days to go until this year’s Champions League final sees Spurs and Liverpool battle it out in Madrid, attention is now turning to the Spanish capital and Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium; venue for Saturday’s showpiece event. Home to the Los Rojiblancos since opening for the 2017-18 season, the ground is the third largest football stadium in Spain and hosted a record-breaking women’s league game between Atlético Madrid and Barcelona in March, with 60,739 spectators setting a new world record for a women’s club match.

We spoke with Georgina Slawinski, who recently completed her BA (Hons) Sports Business & Coaching degree at UCFB, about her recent visit to the Wanda Metropolitano and how the stadium is suited to the biggest game in the European football calendar…

Hi Georgina. Thanks for speaking with us. You recently went on a UCFB trip to Madrid and visited Atletico’s new ground which will host the upcoming Champions League final. What were your impressions of the new stadium? And how will it suit the final?

The stadium itself I have to say is the best stadium I’ve ever been to abroad. It is absolutely immaculate. Especially at night, where you can see the unique 100% LED feature around the arena. I would certainly love to go back there, hopefully for a Wolves game in the near future.

The stadium is the third largest football ground in Spain with a capacity of 67,829 – as a BA (Hons) Sports Business & Coaching student, can you tell us what sort of financial and business benefits this could have for the club?

This certainly means endless business opportunities for the club. Having this capacity will be highly attractive for external organisations to sponsor or invest in the club. It increases the likelihood of other events at the ground too, like the upcoming Champions League final and other events away from sport too, very much like Wembley and a lot of other football grounds who are now maximising the space and use of their facilities in other circumstances.

It means more jobs prospects for the upkeep and maintenance of the stadium, and for match day events. More corporate facilities which will appeal to businesses. It’s just so exciting to think about all the opportunities they have and all the things they can achieve. That’s what I love about the business of football. Football and sport on a whole has the power when done positively and effectively to bring people together, to put on memorable events and it’s truly incredible how innovative we are and are further becoming in the industry.

The stadium has an interesting story – originally erected in 1994 as part of Madrid’s failed bid to host the 1997 World Athletics Championships, before Atletico took possession in 2013 and converted it from a 20,000 capacity arena after a £208million rebuild. What are some of the lessons that can be learned for that project?

I think this story ultimately portrays the evolution of football and how it is now a business, with huge amounts of money involved but also how brutal the industry can be, due to the competitive nature of always being forward-thinking, to be better, to improve the match day experience but also to become more and more global. It shows that having a huge financial backing is important but when it’s not spent efficiently and productively it won’t mean instant successes or financial returns.

Liverpool and Spurs have been allocated just over 16,000 tickets each or around a quarter of the total tickets available. Do you think it’s the right way to go for the two sets of fans to have access to such a relatively low portion of the tickets?

I believe that fans should come first, as fans are arguably the most important stakeholder to a club. If the fans are happy then this can really positively influence a team and the general atmosphere within a club. It’s also about loyalty. Loyalty can never be underestimated because, without it, football just wouldn’t be football like we know it. That’s the exciting element of the football industry. A team is a team for life, so loyal fans should be considered, and this ticket allocation will mean that a large amount of these clubs’ loyal, passionate fans won’t be able to see their team play in one of football’s largest competitions. As a big football fan, myself, I see this as being unfair, as this causes fans who have been following their club year after year to be in a difficult position to secure tickets and a lot of fans being amongst the atmosphere but watching from their team’s fan zones, which again to me seems unjust.

Tell us about the trip to Madrid. As Sub-Committee CEO at AFC Basildon Ladies FC, did you learn anything that will help you in this role?

Definitely! Coaching has a lot of relevance to leadership. Meeting the staff at Atletico really opened my eyes to the importance and influence a well-structured philosophy can have. Atletico believes in a guided discovery approach, which broken down is ultimately allowing for the team/individuals to find the appropriate solution themselves, with guidance and support throughout. For me, I love this leadership style and approach because it encourages creativity and empowerment both of which in any place of work I feel is desirable for success and improving as a team and as an individual.

As a committed Wolves fan, you must be delighted with the teams’ performance this season. What have been the highlights? And what is the club doing right?

I could be here all day talking to you about Wolves, especially in recent times as my dissertation was on the impact of the foreign ownership group currently at the club. Conclusively to my study and in terms of a subjective approach, both on and off the pitch the club are showing revelatory movements forward and it starts from the very top, with credit to the competitiveness, investment, and leadership directed from our owners Fosun International. The club has an organisational structure that shows to be working exceptionally, this is with recognition of the staff and all those involved at the club, which I was able to explore through carrying out interviews with those highly involved at Wolverhampton Wanderers, this was an honour for me and really opened my eyes to the fundamentals needed for organisation effectiveness.

In terms of my highlight for this season, it has to be winning 1-3 away at Wembley against Tottenham. Seeing Wolves first victory at the new Wembley is something I will never forget, with Wembley being my home from home and close to my heart.

And finally, a big congratulations on completing your degree! Can you tell us what the highlights have been for you? And what are your plans for when you graduate/your ambitions in the industry?

Thank you so much! I am so proud to say that I am graduating in October with a Sports Business and Coaching Degree as well as gaining a portfolio filled with a wealth of memorable and valuable experiences.

A highlight!? I am finding it very difficult to pick just one highlight, but I have to say it was representing The Football Association as a Team Liaison Officer, I learned so much about elite athletes and international competition, which gave me the perfect insight and encouragement to progress into leadership at the top level. I have so many lecturers to thank for making my studies stimulating, challenging and enjoyable too, which I see as another highpoint!

My next step is actually to be back here in September, to carry out the MSc Sport Management qualification. I have always loved learning and challenging myself, so, I feel this course will support me in my ambition to reach a senior level in football business. I’m really looking forward to starting and to see what another year of studying at UCFB brings.