Who Is Walter Pless?


A teacher by profession, but is now in his 38th year as a football writer. Has written for "Soccer Action" (Melbourne), "Australian Soccer Weekly" (Sydney) and "World Soccer" (London), as well as for several Tasmanian newspapers. Currently contributing to "Goal!Weekly" in Melbourne and the Australian magazine "Soccer International". Played for Croatia-Glenorchy, Caledonians, Metro, Rapid and University in Tasmania, as well as in the United States of America. Coached University, Metro and Croatia-Glenorchy.

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I first met Michael Palmer, FFT’s new CEO, in 2003. He was working for UEFA at the time and we met for a coffee while he was back in his home town of Hobart

Here is a story I wrote about him at the time.

Next time you are watching a European Champions League soccer match on television, spare a thought for the behind-the-scenes organisation that goes into making such matches a success.

One of those responsible for ensuring that everything runs smoothly is a Tasmanian - 39-year-old Michael Palmer, who was home for Christmas and New Year.

Michael is the brother of Mercury photographer Tony Palmer.

Michael is the head of the venue management department of Swiss company Team Marketing, based in Lucerne, Switzerland, whose sole client is the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

UEFA is, of course, European football’s governing body and, as such, is responsible for conducting the European Champions League, a club competition, and the European senior and under-21 championships for national teams.

“Team Marketing is, if you like, the commercial arm of UEFA,” said Palmer, who was born in Hobart and educated at Campbell Street Primary School and New Town High School.

“We sell all the broadcasting rights, all the sponsorship, various product endorsements and we raise the revenue, in fact, that makes the Champions League happen.

“And, it is significant, running into over a billion Swiss francs.

“We work with television a lot and make sure all the camera positions are right, all the graphics and replays are right, and, in short, make sure that it looks like a Champions League match.

“Our company provides all the advertising signage for every Champions League match in Europe and it all comes out of a warehouse in Belgium and there are trucks driving all over Europe all of the time.

“It’s really amazing logistics.”

Team Marketing employs 110 people and Michael’s section is responsible for the 156 games that culminate in the European Champions League final, which is game number 157.

Another section handles all arrangements for the final, together with the club or association whose ground is staging the final.

“In any given week of 16 games during the Champions League, we’ll have about 40 people working all over Europe and they fly back to Lucerne afterwards,” Palmer said.

“We’re responsible for everything that makes the Champions League look the same in whatever stadium it’s in, from the signage to the badges to the television camera positions and the graphics.”

Occasionally, Palmer manages to get to a game as a mere spectator.

AC Milan versus Real Madrid at the San Siro just before Christmas was one such occasion.

“There were a few Aussies left in Europe who had worked on the Commonwealth Games in Manchester so ten of us managed to go down to Milan and we had a really great night,” he said.

Palmer, who started his working life with a stockbroking firm in Hobart before moving to Perth and starting the Perth Heat national baseball team, has certainly come a long way.

He was involved with SOCOG and ran the Olympic football competition before moving to Manchester, where he was the director of venues for the Commonwealth Games.

He still loves coming home to Hobart and, regardless of where he works, he always tells people he’s a Tasmanian, even if he currently earns his bread amid the cut-and-thrust of top European soccer.


+12 #1 On the Sidelines 2014-07-31 10:18
Thanks for this insight Walter. Where would we be without you! I appreciate your attention to detail.

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