The Middle East's appetite for European football continues to grow

The Middle East's appetite for European football continues to grow
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Published August 12th, 2015 - 13:17 GMT via

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Paris Saint-Germain owned by Qatar Sports Investments, sponsored by Fly Emirates
Paris Saint-Germain owned by Qatar Sports Investments, sponsored by Fly Emirates

Five of the top eight revenue generating clubs in the world have Middle East-based shirt sponsors and the involvement of regional sponsors is a key part in driving the commercial growth at many of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Considering the prominent role the region plays in the football industry, Deloitte Corporate Finance (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, said a statement.

At the Dubai seminar, Jones was joined by panelist members Humphry Hatton, chief executive officer; Miquel Pancorbo, president of Sport, Gulf Marketing Group; David Grisham, managing director, Ticketmaster Middle East; and James Piercy, deputy editor, Sport 360, it said.

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 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," he added.

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, said the statement.

The impact of Middle Eastern ownership continues to be felt, especially through the continued investment in the playing staff and infrastructure of their clubs, it said.

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, it added. - TradeArabia News Service.

Copyright 2015 Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group

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