Battle of the Brands

Sports Media Rights

Roy Keane 


Battle Of The Brands.

By Marc Webber.

The season has kicked-off, the war of words has already begun. And yet again we face another ten months of Manchester United and Arsenal battling it out for football supremacy. But this season, the two clubs will also be fighting  another battle but this one is off the pitch.

Both sides have recently signed major deals with mobile phone firms. Vodafone are in bed with Man Utd, meanwhile O2 have linked up with last seasons champions, Arsenal. There's more to these deals than just a simple change of sponsor on the shirts. The agreements could lead to multi-million pound deals, which will bring extra revenue to the two clubs and provide a much-needed shot in the arm to the already battered telecoms sector.
It is no surprise that two of the biggest clubs in the world have gone down this road. After all, football is becoming more commercial by the day and any chance to make money out of the club brand will be exploited. However, the question to ask here is whether this will really be the golden goose both sides in the venture perceive it to be?
Football fans are loyal and are fairly easy with their money. A prime example of this is the explosion of SMS text messaging and premium rate phone 'club-call' lines over the past few years. Such services have raked in millions of pounds for companies like TEAMtalk and Club-call.
A more basic example is the mad rush visible at sports stores when a new club strip is out. But now, fans are getting savvy with their cash and are becoming more selective as to what they want to buy in terms of their "add-on" services. Will the Super-duper Arsenal O2 services be any better than what Gooners can currently get on the market? It is no longer good enough just to say that the material supplied is the "official" word from Highbury or Old Trafford. In fact, you could argue that this is actually a negative, as most tabloids get the true story before it is released by the club. For this to work, for both the operators and the club, there'll have to be some pretty whiz bang features,
like answer- phone messages voiced by players, personal "happy birthday" text messages from David Beckham, etc etc.
If the content isn't exclusive, then forget it.  Which leads to the question, who has the rights to broadcast Premiership commentaries down the phone? Is this free for anyone to do? All eyes will certainly be on these two giants to see how well their mobile phone ventures fair over the next few months. Other clubs and service providers are waiting in the wings (Everton already have a sponsorship link with T-Mobile). If Man Utd and Arsenal; Vodafone and O2 can't do it, then no-one can.

Division One.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, more Division One clubs have been pleading poverty in the past few weeks. Leicester says its now drinking at the last chance saloon, and the next few months will be crucial for the club.
The sad thing is, as more of these announcements are made, the less of a story it becomes. Football clubs will soon be disappearing off the radar without us even noticing, which is sad. It is up to every football supporter worth their salt to keep an eagle eye on their team, at whatever level. Helping now may save them later.

North Of the Border.

But all this pleading poverty in England stands in stark contrast to what's going on North of the Border -especially where Partick Thistle is concerned. They've just reported a near 1 million profit for the past twelve months, when they won promotion to the Scottish Premier League. Now that they are in the SPL, riches from recently-signed TV and radio contracts will roll in, making them even richer. So what did they do that the likes of Leicester et al didn't? The Scots have a reputation for being tight-fisted (unfairly, I hasten to add). Maybe the clubs struggling in the south would be well advised to take a day trip to Partick!








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