My last blog piece was written quite a while back now, and for that I need to say sorry. Since my last one I’ve got a new job, and a new flat too. It’s been a busy time. I’m writing this in a rather informal notion, so excuse my disregard for proper sentence structure or journalistic skills. It’s more about opinion, and for that – I want to see responses.
In football terms, Arsenal appear to have turned a corner. Those who follow my twitter-feed (see top) will know I was cautious about ‘counting chickens’; as the form and ability of the opposition was as questionable as the Gunners themselves. As it stands, a thumping win at Stamford Bridge and topping their Champions’ League group thus far, I believe as long as Arsenal are in the top five come January they’ll finish in that lucrative top 4 spot. If they’re smart enough to strengthen well, I even think 3rd place is do-able. With that thought in mind, I’ll stick to my prediction from my transfer blog in Summer;
Manchester City – Champions.
Manchester United – 2nd.
Arsenal – 3rd.
Liverpool – 4th.
Chelsea – 5th.
Tottenham – 6th.
Though, I must admit, Tottenham have been relatively impressive; I just think the further they go in the Europa League, the more it will harm their chances.
Thursday/Sunday seasons can be cursed for any side. Liverpool and Spurs could swap places; I do firmly believe Chelsea will fall behind but it will see a major haul in personnel at the club for the 2012/2013 season.
Back to Arsenal, and my worry is in their ability to do transfer dealings. Wenger won’t want to halt the growth of his young stars, but he needs some star quality. Mikel Arteta has been good, as has Ramsey and Song. Three solid players, but a Hazard type of character would really shake up the team – Mind, so would Arshavin if he found form. Though how is Arsene supposed to justify buying another CM when he already has arguably seven/eight possible suitors? It’s very hard to justifiably strengthen a side full of good, but not Ballon D’Or, players.
Next I want to talk about the Championship strugglers; Doncaster Rovers. With a lack of funds and an inability to compete on their field, they have invested in a new look strategy with the help of one of football’s real pantomine villains;
Willie McKay – I know you know the name, and now you’re thinking: “Wasn’t he that… uh… um… Hmmm.. He knows Redknapp, doesn’t he?”, Well McKay is a football agent, and perhaps would of the most media watched of them all after the police and political enquires into his transfer involvement with Jean Boumsong, Benjani and Amdy Faye. Most notably; “The Steven’s Enquiry” in 2007, which was the fall out of his arrest, and subsequent house raid as police investigated alleged corruption in football, all at the time Harry Redknapp was at Portsmouth, the club Amdy Faye then played for. For McKay, with current clients like El Hadji Diouf and Joey Barton, he’s always going to be interesting.
Doncaster Rovers have hired Willie McKay on a 2-year deal in the role of ‘Transfer Consultant’; an advisory role. This is perhaps the most interesting story of the late-2011.
‘So what does that mean?’ – Basically, he is in charge of any ins and outs in the club and, with his various contacts in football, he’s got a fantastic plan up his sleeve to generate income for Doncaster. It’s a short-term plan with a long-term goal.
McKay has promised to bring in star names on short contracts, taking unwanted players from big clubs around Europe to put them in the shop window ergo selling them on to a club more befitting of their talent, and he (McKay) will get a cut of Doncaster’s profits. A relatively win-win situation: no? So far, Doncaster have signed Diouf, Chimbonda and McKay has even claimed Zinedine Zidane and Mahamadou Diarra are due to sign in January. Amazing.
So, from one club that’s fighting to keep itself competitive; to another commercially setting the tone in not only domestic, but international, sport. The brand, the PLC: Manchester United. In a previous blog, I expressed how impressed I was that they’ve secured sponsorship of their training kit via DHL – yes, training kit, for £40,000,000. That was enough money to secure the signings of Phil Jones and Ashley Young. In recent activities, Manchester United have now secured Zong as their ‘Official Pakistan Telecoms Sponsor’, their 15th worldwide communications sponsor, in stark contrast to their commercial rivals Arsenal, who have one, British giants: O2.
That’s enough commercial activity for one club, right? Wrong. Manchester United also have plans to launch a Worldwide Social Network, aiming to target, link and give content to their estimated 500 million fans. Man United are positively exploiting their global brand – another business lesson for the competition.
So to my next point, and I’ve been thinking this for a while so I just wanted to get my thoughts immortalised into the black-ink of the internet so when it happens I look like a genius;
Manchester United will ‘franchise’ a football team in the USA.
There are so many different catalysts which are pointing to it, I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but I know football – it seems a commercial and operational feasibility.
In 2003 Manchester United went on their first tour to the USA, the players were able to walk the streets of the busiest cities without as much as an autograph. Now, it’s 2011 and United sell-out the 61,500 strong Soldier Field for their pre-season clash with Chicago Fire.
American businesses are pushing to be associated with Manchester United. After losing the MLS kit rights to Adidas, Nike (Man Utd’s manufacturer) are using the brand of the Red Devils and the Premier League to propel themselves as the face of the MLS game. Furthermore, American business multi-service providers ‘Aon’ spent £80 million – 4 years ago – to sponsor the United playing uniforms: with 6.5 million fans apparently based in the US. Those numbers explain why the likes of DHL, Audi, Epson and Singha are determined to pay handsomely for association with Manchester United too.
Next David Beckham has admitted this week that he is looking into the possibility of owning a MLS franchise after he finishes playing football. Given his allegiances with Manchester United, it seems a feasible ending. As for where; I could imagine them being based in Seattle (where Nike has their flagship store) or Chicago. Both cities Manchester United have utilised as a base on their US tours. Watch this space.
Next, and tying into the Manchester United universal brand and the USA Franchise Idea: Rio Ferdinand.
The twitter #movement of the England Centre-Back has propelled him to fame; his online ‘banter’ with CNN’s Piers Morgan has got him into the American eye, and he’s one of the most recognised English starts with American fans. Recently, he’s fallen out of favour with Sir Alex in favour of bleeding Phil Jones into the team, and with Chris Smalling and Evans progressing it seems he’s undoubtedly ‘over-the-hill’.
Next bold statement; He will be at Chicago Fire by 2013.
His children are 5, 3, and <1. It seems a good time to move, get them settled into the US life, increase his image and could see him becoming an international ambassador for the English game, as well as Manchester United. Right now, LA Galaxy and The New York Red Bulls are both seen as the two dominant forces in the MLS; no coincidence that these are both teams who have invested in ex-European stars. Chicago, the next most famous US City after the two already named – would love to get their hands on one themselves.
In having Ferdinand in the USA, and Beckham looking to buy a club, a Manchester United franchise is gaining momentum as a feasible idea.
The final big topic of recent times – and this a slight tedious link on from Ferdinand > Old Players getting toward the end of their top flight career – is John Terry.
The England Captain is at the centre of a police-led enquiry into alleged racism towards QPR’s defender, and Rio’s brother, Anton Ferdinand. Allow me to just offer me opinion on this, for me, in the trial-by-youtube case it does appear that Terry is saying: “You blind c***”.
However, when lip-reading, the words ‘blind’ and ‘black’ come across similarly, but Anton Ferdinand seems to be aggrieved enough to have launched a formal complaint with the Met Police and the FA.
Following the Wayne Bridge and John Terry fiasco 18months back, I think the FA have had it in for Terry. At the end of the day, the playb0y actions of the Chelsea Skipper put the sport, the reputation of the English game, and the name of football players to embarrassment. Because of this, I think the FA are going to use this Race-Row as an excuse to completely throw the book at him.
8-15 game ban; something really serious. I think you’re going to feel half of it for the crime of racism, and half of it for the FA to well-and-truly get him back for the Bridge-gate.
How on earth do you wrap up such monstrosity of a blog-post? I’m not really sure, but I would really love to hear your views on anything I’ve spoke about. So tweet me or comment below.
This was very fun to write, by the way.
Over and out.Follow @markbritton7