By Tyler Norton
Unfortunately (in this fan’s eyes) football is no longer purely about the best club. Players are bought and sold frequently enough that when players like Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher are Liverpudlians for life, it is noted as the exception rather than the rule. Not that this is some sort of major revelation to the modern football fan, but it is worth mentioning. Football has become equal parts business and sport. For some, all that matters is the footy. Others would rather see a successful stable club perpetually in contention. The latter group understands that the football and the business are directly connected.
When Standard Chartered supplanted Carlsberg as sponsor on Liverpool’s jersey, they made a few suggestions regarding how to further grow the Liverpool brand. They wanted Liverpool to sign an Asian star. This idea was met with little resistance from the then new owners.
Brand expansion is nothing new to Fenway Sports Group. It got creative with the Red Sox to find ways of generating revenue within the rules of Major League Baseball’s revenue sharing rules. This was a sponsor suggesting it do the same by branching into new markets, to tap into a resource that are there for the taking.
Presumably the issue was that there were no targets at the time who fit the description that Standard Chartered had in mind. That doesn’t mean they don’t keep it in mind during the transfer window. As it turns out (if rumors are true), the group is set to tap into a flourishing and still open market. The only catch: it’s America instead of Asia.
Rumors have swirled about new boss Brendan Rodgers trying to bring in Clint Dempsey. While it is unclear if the proposed transfer fee (be it paid in the form of cash or Andy Carroll) will pay off in the long run for Liverpool, it is a risk worth taking. America is beginning to turn the corner with The Beautiful Game. Its brightest star shining, on a big stage, with plenty of exposure ensured by the owners could spell big things for Liverpool in the business realm.
The best part is that FSG knows this. One thing Americans agree on is America. Right now, Clint Dempsey is the most exciting player America has to offer. It makes sense that if you are going to market your club to Americans then you should have America’s Player.
With no real team to back outside of possibly the country their parent’s parents hailed from, ratings from the Euro 2012 tournament were up more than 50 percent. Soccer’s growth in America has been aided by many things: the Internet, satellite TV, immigration and concussions in other sports have slowly but surely lead to a groundswell of football support. Take those things, mix them in with this and this, and you have the makings of a football powder keg.
Of course, with all things that were once underground and cool, there will be resistance to going mainstream from the hardcore fans. It happens in music, movies, sports and all areas of life. Cool things aren’t cool if everyone is doing them. This is even more reason to strike while the iron is hot and underground in America.
Liverpool: be the cool club; be America’s team and sign Clint Dempsey. Watch him triple his worth in the span of a year on American sold merchandise alone.
I suppose his 23 goals wouldn’t hurt on the field either.
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