Purpose: Focusing primarily on Italian and European football, the research performs extended analyses at both the club and federation levels, compares between financial and sport achievements, and identifies correlations and discrepancies between the two. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach: The paper studies managerial systems and strategic directions across clubs and countries and links them to financial and sport performance. The research is primarily secondary-data and literature review based and uses multiple sources to ensure validity and reliability of the findings. Findings: Solutions to the diachronic problems of football cannot be addressed through isolated actions, nor by isolated clubs, or even federations; but through systemic changes that affect, at club and federation levels: the organisational structure; the financial control mechanisms; and the very social essence of football. Research limitations/implications: The research is limited by its very secondary-data-based nature. Subject-specific primary data are thus necessary to empirically test the preliminary findings and propositions of this research. Originality/value: The paper escapes the conventional "sports/financial performance" analyses to support a new perspective that examines the core product of football and identifies, comprehends and prescribes the various values offered by football to its various stakeholders and vice versa.