SBD/Issue 9/Franchises

Arsenal Hopes Tom Fox Can Turn EPL Club Into A Global Power

Arsenal's New Global Media Initiative Includes
Finding TV Partners In India, China, U.S.

Arsenal is looking to Chief Commercial Officer Tom Fox to "promote its brand around the world," and the his task is to "sell the club outside the UK in the way that Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool have done," according to Bill Wilson of BBC NEWS. Fox at a Sports Marketing 360 event in London said, "We spend a lot of time working on how we can build a successful model that is not so relying on winning." As part of that aim to "promote the club business as a whole entity, rather than just the playing side of things, Arsenal has announced a new global media initiative." The strategy includes "finding TV and multi-media partners around the world, including the major markets" of India, China and the U.S. The club also is "looking to increase its digital media output, covering online, premium broadband, mobile phone applications, Internet TV, and video on demand." Fox, who prior to joining Arsenal worked in the U.S. for the NBA, Nike and Gatorade, said that he believes the "mixture of Arsenal's global PR and an increased thirst for televised sport in India and China can help the club break new ground." Fox: "There are 104 shops in China where Arsenal FC merchandise is sold. In 12 to 18 months, we will be looking to get Chinese youngsters to write stories about Arsenal Football Club. That will be more important than anything we can do with those stores." He added, "To get into a market like China, which is increasingly cluttered, not only with other football brands, but also names like Jeep, is not easy. To get through that we have to show them that Arsenal is different, expose them to our brand, get our message over. ... We must remember we are a £240m brand launching in Asia and the US, and potentially in India, when we know that billion-dollar brands are also looking to launch there" (BBC.co.uk, 9/22).

HANGING ON BY A THREAD: Liverpool Managing Dir Christian Purslow yesterday said that the club "can barely service the debts and interest which were loaded on to the club by Tom Hicks and George Gillett when they took over" in '07. Purslow: "Can we afford to meet (our loans, interest costs and bank charges)? Just about. Do I wish that every penny spent on interest was available to spend on players? Passionately." He added, "We are highly profitable. The issue is that too much of that profit is being used to service loans put into place when the club was bought." Also, Purslow for the first time publicly acknowledged the "boardroom divide at Liverpool between Hicks and Gillett and the three directors who can outvote them." Purslow confirmed that he, Chair Martin Broughton and Commercial Dir Ian Ayre "would reject any proposal from the owners" to replace the club's bank debt "with further borrowings from elsewhere" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 9/22). Purslow "dismissed fears Liverpool will go bust should the current ownership issues not be successfully resolved" (London INDEPENDENT, 9/23).

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