One of the biggest issues in football in recent years has been the emergence of the “brand”. Whether this applies to an individual, as in “Brand Beckham” (arguably the first brand of its kind), or a club, the brand, and potential damage thereto, is often cited at the first hint of trouble.
When Luis Suarez was sent off for this third snack on an opponent, he was immediately dubbed “toxic” by large sections of the media, who wasted no time in speculating how the Uruguayan might adversely affect the brand of those loveable, squeaky-clean Scousers. “Toxic” is an adjective much in favour at the moment and can be applied in almost any set of circumstances. It’s a great word. You can almost see those noxious fumes rising in front of you. A manager loses the dressing room, and becomes toxic. A dressing room itself can become toxic. So can the club. And if there’s one thing that the sponsors detest in the early part of the 21st century, it’s a bit of toxicity. That’s why it’s all the more surprising that Ol’ Nasty Bitey Racist has pitched up at the Nou Camp. Because Barca are very proud of their brand.
Over the last 10 years or so, the Catalans have been the pride of UEFA. They are seen at the premium product, the haute-est of the footballing ton. But over the last couple of seasons, in fact since the departure of Pep Guardiola, the halo appears to be slipping, particularly in respect of their youth transfer policy (or “slave trading” as Saint Arsene of Totteridge once referred to the practice of young men being uprooted from their homes and shipped off to Europe’s top football clubs when barely out of nappies, a policy which sometimes results in some of them earning literally hundreds of thousands of pounds a week). The Spanish giants are, of course, currently suspended from the transfer markets as a result of rule breaches relating to the “international transfers of non-Spanish minors”, as UEFA quaintly put it.
This ruling came too late to have any effect on this year’s Brand Finance Football 50, which ranks the top 50 club brands in Europe, but may have future implications. As it may indeed have closer to home. Manchester Utd only slipped one place down the table to third, in spite of the post-Ferguson fiasco which led to them failing to make any form of European football in the forthcoming season. The survey noted that Utd lost $98 Million compared with the 2013 season, and only “shrewd commercial management” had shielded them from more serious losses. However, the report went on to say
“However, another season in the wilderness, outside the Champions League, will see brand value truly plunge, and leave few sponsors willing to do a deal with the [Red] Devils,“.
The survey makes interesting reading for the Premier League. Fifteen of the twenty clubs appear in the Top 50, with brands rated from “AAA” for the market leaders (Manchester Utd, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea in that order) to a humble “A+” for Fulham, who limp in at 50th place.
The perceived value of a brand attracts sponsors, of course. The more successful a club is, and the better its reputation, the more the sponsors flock. And over the past few years, Chelsea have been hugely successful in attracting a raft of premium sponsors. Samsung, Audi, Rotary, Delta Airlines, Sauber F1 and Adidas are currently the principals “Global Partners”, with a host of “Regional Partners”, also scattered across the globe.
Of course the club benefit hugely from the millions of pounds invested by sponsors and partners, but it’s not just a one-way street. It’s worth looking a little more closely at how a company’s affiliation with Chelsea can benefit them – not just in terms of seeing their names plastered across hoardings within Stamford Bridge, and, consequently, on television screens across the world on an almost daily basis, or appearing in club publications, but in terms of the psychological impact they have on supporters.
Of course, Chelsea fans (or very few of them at any rate) aren’t likely to be getting a new electricity tariff from Gazprom – at least for the foreseeable future – but certainly in the case of Samsung, there’s some anecdotal evidence that their shirt sponsorship makes supporters more likely to buy their products. On visiting a friend a couple of years ago, I remarked on their new TV being a Samsung. The friend replied that one of the biggest reasons for the purchase of that particular set was the fact that Samsung are Chelsea shirt sponsors. Another more recent case was that of a mobile phone, which I know was chosen by the purchaser again because of the “Chelsea connection”.
Trainers. Who can resist a nice new pair of Adidas trainers, preferably in blue? (according to one publication this week, Gazelles are the height of fashion just now, even appearing on the catwalks of Europe). Mr Gate17 himself, Mark Worrall, chose to tweet his new season ticket lovingly nestled in his latest pair of Adidas for the 2014/2015.
So maybe we are more influenced by the brand than we care to admit. Because remember, it’s blue. What else matters?
Last weekend saw the 7th annual Supporters Tournament take place down at Cobham, with plenty of spectators taking the opportunity to enjoy the matches which were played in largely good weather. Indeed a number of supporters later reported incidents of sunburn due to the deceptively cloudy skies which masked the sun, in contrast to last year’s scorcher which saw space in the marquee at a premium. More happily, St Johns Ambulance only reported two injuries on the field, neither of which were serious.
On the pitch, the Kyle Broadbent Memorial Trophy was won by West London Blues, who defeated Blue & White Army 3-1. The Plate Final went to Gianfranco’s Blues who defeated the gallant Finborough FC by one goal to nil – the first goal that Finborough conceded in the tournament.
Many thanks to everyone who helped organise the tournament and gave their time so freely. As always, it was a terrific day.
Following confirmation of the Premier League TV fixtures, it was announced earlier today that the Chelsea Supporters Trust AGM will be held at 1.30pm in the Attenborough Suite at Stamford Bridge (entrance via the Copthorne Hotel).
Nominations for election to the Trust Board are open until 1st August – anyone who is a voting member of the Trust is eligible for election. All they require is a manifesto of no more than 800 words and someone to sign their nomination paper. If you would like to stand for election to the Board, but have any queries, please get in touch with Paul Jefrrey, the Trust Secretary at email@example.com. Alternatively, if you approach me via Twitter, I’m more than happy to assist in any way I can.
More info about the AGM can be found at the CST website.
Chelsea Charity Heroes
Much-loved Chelsea supporter Paula Harding (@GypsyPaulie) is participating in some amazing events over the next few days. On Sunday she’ll be taking part in a remarkable project to plant 888,246 ceramic poppies, one for every British and Colonial fatality during World War One, in the moat of the Tower of London during the run up to the anniversary of the outbreak of World War One. Paula is part of the Combat Stress team, a charity established in 1919 which helps UK veterans with psychological injuries to rebuild their lives. Find out more about their work at their website http://www.combatstress.org.uk. And on Monday, she’ll be at Paddington Station collecting on behalf of the Coming Home charity (www.coming-home.org.uk) which pledges to find and adapt housing for Servicemen who have given so much for the defence of our country. Everyone at TheChels.Net wishes Paula the best of luck with her fantastic work for these vital charities.
Well, pre-season has now started in earnest with a mixture of youth and experience running out 5-0 winners at Wycombe during the week, and I’ll be at Kingstonian’s ground tomorrow for my first taste of pre-season action as we take on AFC Wimbledon. There’s a lot going on over the next few weeks, with the Supporters Summit taking place at Wembley and the run-up to the CST AGM, and we’ll be keeping you up to date with all the news here at The.Chels.Net. In the meantime, you can as usual follow me on Twitter @BlueBaby67.