Middle East interest in European football continues to grow
Deloitte: Football leagues in the Middle East need to build their brand to grow
11 August, 2015 – Five of the top eight revenue generating clubs in the world have Middle East based shirt sponsors and the involvement of Middle East sponsors is a key part in driving the commercial growth at many of Europe’s biggest clubs. Considering the prominent role the Middle East region plays in the football industry, Deloitte Corporate Finance Limited (DCFL) (regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority) recently held its inaugural business seminar on European football finance, and the Middle East influence on European football. The seminars, which took place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, were led by Dan Jones, Deloitte Global Sports Leader. At the Dubai seminar, Jones was joined by panelist members Humphry Hatton, CEO, (DCFL), Miquel Pancorbo, President of Sport, Gulf Marketing Group, David Grisham, Managing Director, Ticketmaster Middle East and James Piercy, Deputy Editor, Sport 360.
During the seminar, panelists discussed the region’s opportunity to grow its football leagues, investment in football, match experience, fan base growth, and the leagues’ strategic marketing. One of the main takeaways of the seminar was that a key opportunity in growing a football environment within the Middle East region would be by keeping fans happy in order to build the brand.
“For clubs in the Middle East, it is critical to their development that they keep fans both happy and interested as the quality of players, stadia and clubs develop,” said Dan Jones. “Local clubs now compete against their global counterparts for the hearts and minds of local fans. It is essential that local clubs engage their domestic fanbase to unlock commercial revenue streams such as ticketing and merchandising but equally to improve the club’s brand in the longer term,” he added.
Pancorbo highlighted the importance of strategic communication between clubs and their fan bases. “UAE football clubs, which have been doing great during the past few years and could possibly qualify for the next FIFA Club World Cup, need to take it to the next level if they wish to attract a wider fan base and increase revenues,” he said. “They need to create a strategic marketing plan, allow their matches to be family friendly, and make it easier for fans to track the timings of the matches, location, etc. using various social media or internet tools.”
According to the Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance 2015, the motivation for Middle East brands to partner with clubs that have the reach provided by elite European football, principally through broadcast exposure, is clear. The impact of Middle Eastern ownership continues to be felt, especially through the continued investment in the playing staff and infrastructure of their clubs. More recently, the importance of sport within the business models of Middle East brands has been further emphasized by evidence of them using football as a brand building tool in some of the less mature football markets.
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About Deloitte & Touche (M.E.):
Deloitte & Touche (M.E.) is a member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) and is the first Arab professional services firm established in the Middle East region with uninterrupted presence since 1926.
Deloitte is among the region’s leading professional services firms, providing audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services through 26 offices in 15 countries with around 3,000 partners, directors and staff. It is a Tier 1 Tax advisor in the GCC region since 2010 (according to the International Tax Review World Tax Rankings). It has received numerous awards in the last few years which include Best Employer in the Middle East, best consulting firm, and the Middle East Training & Development Excellence Award by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).