There is an old adage that knowledge is power but money talks. Nowhere is that more apt than in the current scenario of commercialization of football. In a time when football revenue is so important the building of a brand for a football club is essential. Bigger the brand, bigger will be the amounts fans are willing to shell out to obtain a piece of the club whether it be jerseys or any other club paraphernalia.
In the current time frame no two clubs are bigger and better at this than Man Utd and Real Madrid news. Both clubs cashed in on their tremendous on field success and big name players to create global super brands. By opening club based stores and restaurants in parts of the world like India, which may be a nascent football power but a highly lucrative market nevertheless United have hit upon a mantra of successful commercialization that is seeing their brand go day by day. Madrid are the past masters at this form of commercialization going as far as being involved in multi- million dollar film being made on them (Goal II:Living the Dream). All these measures have seen a surge in their popularity. The byproduct of all this popularity is increased revenue. It is said that Beckham’s transfer cost from United to Madrid was recouped through replica jersey sales. That is quite mind boggling in itself and also serves as a neat business trick.
Seeing all this I find it hard to believe that a club like Arsenal hadn’t yet realized the power of such commercialization. In the EPL era the rivalry with United and Wenger’s arrival led to a flood of trophies and achievements that one will find hard to emulate. But while one club continued to build their brand the other(Arsenal) did not cash in on all this success. It is only in recent times that the club have realized that the Asian market is a huge commercial opportunity waiting to happen. And hence the recent tours to China, Japan and Indonesia. Freddie Ljunberg himself commented on how stunned he was by the reception he received from fans in Indonesia when he landed there recently. I’m a bit disappointed that Arsenal hasn’t seen the opportunity to expand their image in a country like India unlike United which has already established a name there. A few years back it was even hard to get an Arsenal away kit in a Nike store in India. No such problem for United though since Nike quickly realized that the demand for United jerseys in India was high and would sell a range of products of theirs.
The current scenario in today’s world is such that European football is not just popular in Europe alone but is popular all over the world too. While certain clubs have realized that early and capitalized on that popularity others have lagged behind. I can only hope that Arsenal realize this and continue building their brand in countries like India, China and African countries. This may be viewed as selling the soul of the club, but in such times such actions are necessary to stay afloat. Now is the perfect time to start, the club is ranked the fourth most valuable association football club in the world and with a little better brand marketing can really rake in the moolah and offset the debt incurred by the new stadium cost as well as provide the manager with some good funds to spend on top players. Money money money, it’s not funny, in the football world.
Mean Lean's Response
It is not just us playing catch up with Manchester United, it is the whole of the Premier League and most of the world. We were indeed late to the game, instead focusing on our huge move to Ashburton Grove. The likes of Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid will certainly take some catching but at least we are making good progress and are certainly heading in the right direction. Stan Kroenke, Ivan Gazidis and Tom Fox have all taken a fair share of stick from Arsenal supporters and I guess it has been a case of getting their heads down, taking the flack and hopefully showing the final result to make people say 'Ooh, I see what you were doing'
The team will hopefully be taking forward steps with the players coming in, it should be very exciting next week. Once the team improves, our name will improve around the world. We've had a tough 8 years or so but this feels like a new beginning to me. Well, that is the hope anyway.
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Check out my blog from this afternoon: Transfer impatience & Signing young players nothing to be frowned upon