Battle of the Brands
Battle Of The Brands.
By Marc Webber.
The season has kicked-off, the war of words has
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.
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 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.
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!