Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Friday June 29 2012
It`s a symptom of the modern game I suppose that such things are considered so worthy of discussion, but a common anxiety amongst some Arsenal fans involves our commercial activity. The introduction of FFP coupled with key sponsorship deals winding down and leaving us short compared to other clubs means this has been an area of some focus. The Gunners` current stadium and kit sponsorship deals expire in 2014. Both deals were heavily front loaded in order to meet the immediate funding requirements of the new stadium, which was the right decision. (As with player contracts, the true acid test for the complainants is as to how many complained at the time the ink was put to the contracts).
Nevertheless, whilst United and even the fading force of Liverpool are off signing new kit deals, Arsenal find a hole in the commercial bucket for the next two years. Two summers ago, Gazidis (doubtless with the guiding hand of Kroenke) appointed a crack new commercial team, including Tom Fox (ex of Nike, Gatorade and the NBA), Angus Kinnear, Charles Allen (ex Pepsico and Coca Cola Schweppes) with Mark Gonnella drafted in from Barclaycard to head up communications. Commercial operations is meant to be one of KSE`s great strengths and one by one, we`re beginning to see some of their work bubble to the surface.
I`d already reported last winter on Arsenal`s revamped DIY stadium tours the brainchild of Charles Allen. The same man is also revamping Arsenal`s membership to embrace CRM which Adam Rutzler has recently been appointed to oversee. As Arsenal`s pre season friendly against the Nigerian national team has been announced, the club have announced a further commercial partnership with Airtel, an Indian mobile network operator focussing operations in Africa, adding to the one they signed with Malta Guinness, a popular drink in Africa. Having already laid groundwork in Asia with a pre season tour last summer and another this, it seems the African market, where Arsenal have a huge fanbase, is the next pin in the map.
Manchester United`s commercial operations leave Arsenal lagging, not so much in kit and shirt sponsorship deals, but secondary commercial partnerships. Telecomms companies, airlines and the like. This kind of activity is set to go through the roof with FFP now implemented as clubs look for more creative ways to generate their own cashflows in compliance with UEFA`s legislation. How far UEFA are prepared to gt tough on those that don`t comply is a fair question and one that`s yet to be answered. But the amount of clubs making moves in this area- such as Chelsea`s suddenly desperate scramble to move to a new stadium- shows it is having an effect, contrary to the popular line that it will have none at all. LD.
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Date:Friday June 29 2012
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