Scottish Giants Fly to London to Make Brand Global

Years of talk about Scottish footballing giants Rangers and Celtic joining the English Premier League may have been considered fruitless until now. The blue side of Glashow has taken substantial steps to impose itself an international brand: The first being to open offices in London.

This may be the first of many moves that Rangers is looking to take. The club will open its London office with the view to expand its international brand to overseas market. The obvious impact to promote Rangers’ brand would be the induction into the English Premier League where television and sponsorship money seems to be endless.

This newly created post will be embedded in its global strategy to maximize expose and will try to win new supporters, as well as proving to the Premier League that the club would be of great benefit to the organisation to attract new vested income from a series of big Scottish companies.

Glasgow Rangers is a world-renowned brand with tremendous history and is the Scottish equivalent to Liverpool or Manchester United, however they do not generate the revenue or gain the exposure that their English counterparts achieve.

This move to the capital of Britain will help the club discover more integral links with new sponsors, broaden its commercial pull and more importantly, try to ‘steal’ some of the income that the richer London clubs receive from football.

This move speaks volumes about the Scottish Premier League though. Scottish football is seen as weak and positively unattractive. Wages are diminishing and its impact on European football, once so vibrant, is now almost non-existent. The SPL needs a revamp and the perception now associated with the league is concerning for those involved. Four of its members have entered administration recently, as it drastically tries to recapture its past glories.

The truth is, outside Glasgow the crowds are decreasing and the standard of football makes the English’s League One (The old Division Three) looks rather decent. Scotland’s international stars are moving to Championship clubs instead of plying their trade for the big Scottish clubs. It is disheartening. English football standard may have slipped recently but it maintains its pulling power by the power of clever PR and global advertising.

SPL lacks the function.

The English Football League revamped the structure of the leagues and introduced the ‘Championship’ in the 2004/2005 season to boost decreasing crowds. Guest what? It worked.

The division is now the fourth most watched in Europe and the Play-Off final receives fantastic viewing figures. Currently, the Football League has television rights with both the BBC and Sky Sports, and the amazing recovery since the collapse of ITV Digital shows that there is a lot of money in football if it advertised correctly.

It is about changing perception. Rangers moving to London may not be a crisis, but if they move to the Premier League then it will be.

Follow me on twitter: @StevenWoodgate

Liverpool FC’s Warrior Defeats Adidas

Liverpool FC has strengthened its Anglo-American relations by signing a six year deal with US sports firm Warrior, but at what price?

The US Company will produce Liverpool FC’s kit from June and replaced established worldwide firm Adidas in doing so. Traditionally, Warrior is associated with sports like ice hockey and lacrosse and its venture into English football shows how much interest the game is having across the pond. This announcement has come to light after fellow Premier League side, Tottenham Hotspur, agreed a deal for another US firm, Under Armour, would make its kit from 2012/12.

Liverpool has not yet disclosed the figure of the deal, with many quarters believing it to be around the £25 million pound mark – this would indicate that Liverpool, with much vested sponsor interest in Asia, will soon join Manchester United and Chelsea with regular trips to the US. This could lead to a hectic pre-season to say the least.

Last season Warrior became supplier to the Boston Red Sox, the baseball team that shares owners with Liverpool and will become its priority. More importantly for Warrior, owned by Boston based New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc, this deal represents the starting point for the company’s journey partnering with one of the biggest sides in the history of world football. As a first client, Liverpool is as big as it comes. Where Adidas has many clients in football, Warrior can devote its attention to promote the Liverpool brand, and promoting its products, worldwide.

Many stakeholders, more notably the fans, celebrate the rich heritage of the club and previous exploitation from American firms have gone down rather sourly. The club’s good name was dragged through the mud during the George Gillett and Tom Hicks disastrous spell as owners, and it wasn’t until John W. Henry’s timely invention that the fans recent fortunes have turned around

This agreement may have a lot of monetary value, but regardless of the where the money is coming from, Liverpool’s previous interpretations of Americans has somewhat disappeared. Liverpool financial health has been restored and this integral link with Warrior will undoubtedly provide the perfect springboard for the club to reap the benefits.

Adidas claimed that Liverpool’s asking price and their performance on the pitch didn’t match up. Club chief executive Ian Ayre seemed baffled by the claims though, saying: “We are disappointed that Adidas seem to point to a lack of European football as reason not to agree a new deal and cannot see that we are on a par with the biggest football brands in the world

“Warrior Sports will bring its own unique brand and ideas to the partnership, ensuring they can assist us at the club both on and off the field of play.”

This would add context with the club’s world appeal; however, more shockingly for Liverpool, Adidas’s decision not to extend their deal indicates that the club, especially with its on-field performances, is behind its rivals. Football is a results business and with the club not qualifying for the Champions League recently and without a trophy to speak of since victory in the FA Cup final in 2006, the club may not be as marketable as it once was.

From a PR perceptive, this move strengthens the club’s international unity and the current owners – Fenway Sports Group – can look after their important stakeholders.

Warrior will look to benefit financially as well, with the club’s jersey being one of the most sold worldwide, and with the investment, Liverpool will need to significantly improve on-field results to ensure these sponsors receive maximum coverage. If that is the case, Warrior will achieve great exposure to a number of potential clients, and then the big investment in Liverpool will become very beneficial.

For Liverpool, the club will receive a huge lump of income every year with a non-performance related agreement and it proves it can compete financially with the big boys despite the on-field struggles.

 

Please comment and follow me on twitter  – @StevenWoodgate

 

Slazenger drop Clarke early on as he makes triple ton

It must be agonising for a sponsor to witness such a cruel twist of fate. However, unluckily for Slazenger, but rather luckily for cricket, the game received some much-needed nostalgia with Australia’s Michael Clarke scoring a triple century with only the glorious red marks decorating his bat.

This may sound comically odd to the non-cricket fan, but today’s cricket represents an ethos of being sponsor-rich and commodity-friendly – look at the Indian Premier League as an example. Test cricket remains its dignity by keeping up the all white-clothing tradition, rather than some ghastly numbers that have popped up around more domestic cricket sides.  This plain bat adds context to the tradition.

Clarke, on a terrible reign of form, dating way back before England’s convincingly won the Ashes in Australia’s backyard, suddenly came alive and produced an innings of sheer graft and intelligent hitting and simply knocked India all around the park without a sponsor on his bat.

It is rare to see that in today’s sponsor-rich sport. As he lofts his bat proudly in the air to the adoring SCG crowd, there is no sponsor, no made up logo for corporate gain (Kevin Pietersen) but just sheer willow. To cricket traditionalists this will bring back memories of yesteryear when cricketers of their era did the same and to great affection.

Four day previous his sponsor, Dunlop Slazenger pulled out of its long-term sponsorship with the batsman and now they must have wished it was extended for a week. Captain Clarke sailed past the highest score at the Sydney Cricket Ground and achieved unprecedented amounts of coverage. However, this lifetime capture for some lucky photographers, will bare no sponsors and Slazenger missed out on having their product being viewed by millions of people. Essentially lifetime free advertising.

However, this will be a timely boost for new sponsors to stake their claims to get the effect leading sportsmen have; there is already significant rumours of a “high six-figure sum” coming Clarke’s way following his triple ton. Perhaps he needed to put himself in the shop window, and remind sponsors and the good people of Australia how good of a player he is. He certainly did that.

Despite cricketers acting as commodities, there was something strangely satisfying seeing Clarke raise his plain willow, containing nothing more than a relatively small marking featured promotional stickers for McGrath Foundation Day. It was also meant to be. However to Clarke, this was merely another game and another innings. For Dunlop Slazenger it was a missed opportunity and they must have wished that Clarke managed his brilliance at the MCG only 10 days ago.

Dunlop Slazenger missed out on this opportunity to be embedded in a visual by predicting Clarke’s poor form would continue, so they chased other lucrative batsmen to slap on their corporate possessions.

Lesson learnt: Form is temporary, but class is permanent. Sport is hugely unpredictable, sponsors don’t you forget that.

Rugby Finally Care About Reputation Management

It is fair to say that England Rugby has taken a battering following the fallout from this year’s World Cup. New Zealand may have been victorious in rugby but it was England who were victorious in the battle for column inches. It was a victory they did not need or want.

Martin Johnson’s side were criticised for drinking, dwarf-tossing, anti-social behaviour, and pretty much everything else and ruined what was supposed by a hopeful World Cup campaign. The fallout from the campaign was huge with The Times receiving conclusions from an internal report where it appeared most of the players and staff were clearly unhappy and resentful to how they were treated throughout the three months.

Mike Tindall’s capacity as well became under heavy scrutiny following his antics and retired from the role straight after the hopeless defeat to France. Now, under new management, England look to move out of this nightmare.

The problems began in earnest though. Scrumhalf Danny Care is the first to be hit with new discipline measures following some rather decent reputation management.

On the front of it, this may look solely a rugby decision, under the new interim boss Stuart Lancaster, but what sticks so oddly is that Care is dropped from the Six Nations for being caught drink-driving on New Year’s Eve. Previously, under the old regime, Tindall was awarded his capacity whilst serving his second drink-driving ban. Quite a contrast, isn’t?

Care won’t be the only one punished with such measures, as only three weeks ago Lancaster reprimanded the Harlequins man for being drunk and disorderly rather publicly. Johnson, a previous World Cup winner, barely condemned his squad’s antics in New Zealand, calling it ‘overblown’ and ‘boys being boys’.

Unfortunately, since the game turned professional in 1995, rugby’s professionalism in England is yet to catch up. Domestically, it still has somewhat of a semi-professional status with a structured wage-limit in place, where countries like Australia and France are able to pay bigger wage packets to attract the better players.

Perhaps for England Rugby’s reputation management, it will need to consider what is important in progressing forward. Football’s reputation and professionalism increased significantly with the revolutionary introduction of the Premier League.

Obviously this newly installed discipline in the RFU will provide better opinion from the public and may challenge many of the established players to be better behaved and begin representing their country more professionally.

The RFU went into ‘crisis management’ mode last November following The Times’ discovery and Chief Executive Ron Andrew came under extreme pressure to resign. However, he managed to stay and started to rebuild his reputation as well as England Rugby’s. He mentioned that he had to address a range of issues following “tough information”, but he believes that the level criticism can help England rugby improve.

Banning Care is a massive statement, not only for his manager but also for the RFU as a whole. Looks like the conclusions are beginning to take affect.