When Real Mad bought David Beckham a significant part of the reason for the purchase was the money they’d get from marketing. Lots of little girls bought Beckham stuff, and Real Mad took their cut. They did the same with Zidane, (although I suspect this involved sales to men rather than girls) ensuring that they had the north African market too.
Arsenal’s worldwide appeal was hugely influenced by Henry, and before him Bergkamp, but since Henry’s departure we’ve not had someone who would sell the shirts by the zillion. Nor have we had someone who could get a boy sitting in a city in China you’ve never heard of, but which has a population of more than London, Birmingham and Glasgow combined, to say, “I support Arsenal” (or whatever that is in Mandarin.)
But maybe, just maybe, Theo could deliver.
Given the sudden uprise of Theo to god-like status, what we might well find is that when they do all that mucking about before the Olympics open in London, it might not be Beckham who is the most famous Englishman on the planet, but Theo.
If so, the benefits to Arsenal could be huge. Arsenal already secures the largest matchday income of any club in the known universe (and Leicester), and likewise has a debt that can be handled (unlike Manchester Bankrupt and Liverpool Insolvency). A debt that is based on real estate, rather than notional values of the club as a concept, and which thus is at lower interest rates.
True, Arsenal don’t have the money of CSKA Moscow or Manchester Arab, but as we have seen with CSKA, it is hard to get people from the wider world to fall in love with a club when all it has done is taken a load of dosh and bought in other people’s left overs (A Cole springs to mind, which reminds me I must clean my head out this afternoon).
Manchester Bankrupt, the two Milanese clubs, Real Mad, Barca, even Celtic – as brands these clubs are all better known than Arsenal on a world-wide basis. But Arsenal is well-positioned to improve. The stadium looks magnificent on TV, they are always in the top Euro competition (more than can be said for WC Milan), the manager is hugely articulate, and Henry did a lot to take us forward. We are, as it were, poised.
So maybe Theo could do a lot for Arsenal – particularly if he is handled with far more care and grace than some English heroes before him. Beckham has for some years been perceived by some as a bit crass and passee (although many I know, would disagree). And when you contrast Theo with England’s other famous players (Gascoigne, Rooney and the like) what England now has is a new, sophisticated, image.
Theo the Englishman could be coming along just at the right moment – and it could be that most unusual of marketing ploys – an image that just happens. No forcing, no pushing, no artificial razz – just the picture of Theo. The recognisable face of England.
And that would be quite a money-spinner for Arsenal. Aided by the fact that as we have all known for quite a while, he can play a bit.
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