City Left Behind When Developing Strategic Partnerships
Those of you who are regular readers of this blog or attended the Public Open Meeting will know that we feel that our Club is missing out on golden opportunities that lie outside of the UK, in particular the development of strategic partnerships with non-UK football clubs.
This week Bolton Wanderers announced that they were expanding their international interests by entering into a five year agreement with Mandela Bay Football Academy, based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The agreement will see Bolton helping develop their football academy which currently focuses on seventy five 16 - 19 year olds however, it is anticipated that this will be expanded. The agreement will see the sharing of information on pitch preparation and coaching methods as well as see local coaches trained to Premiership standards.
Bolton also hopes to develop links with an African Premier League team which will be located in Port Elizabeth after the World Cup is held in South Africa in 2010. The new team would utilise the 50,000 seater stadium being built there and no doubt Bolton would be able to lend their expertise in running such a stadium and the commercial opportunities that exist.
Bolton have been quick in developing strategic partnerships which we have previously reported on and this latest one comes on the back of partnerships with top Chinese side Wuhan Huangelou FC and Spanish Segunda League Side Elche CF. Bolton have also reportedly entered into an agreement in Iceland and have also targeted India, the United States, Norway, Egypt and France as other areas in which to develop partnerships.
Bolton's latest partnership follows an already successfully tried and tested route by non other than Ajax. Ajax are proven producers of talented players via their academy and have done so consistently over many many years. They have an extensive scouting network mainly concentrated on Africa and use Ajax Cape Town (which they 51% own) as part of their breeding ground for young talent.
Ajax do not hide what they are about. In their 2004-2005 annual accounts they make their position clear, when they cannot produce their own talent they buy in players to fill the spots their academy cannot. City are way off of this but perhaps with a little bit more effort in the right areas, spreading our model, strengthening the scouting network, working with other clubs around the world this could be achievable. Not only could a constant production line of quality players be achieved cost effectively but large sums of money could be saved on having to buy in players or pay large salaries to Bosman players to strengthen the squad.
This week also saw Charlton Athletic signing Martin Christensen, a 19 year old current Danish Under 21 International, and for good measure Charlton entered into a three year partnership with his Danish Divison One club Herfolge Boldklub which takes their non-UK football club partnerships to two. Blackburn Rovers, Sheffield United, Bolton Wanderers, Arsenal, Chelsea and Charlton have all developed strategic partnerships (there are possibly more) and it is almost a certainty that there are many more set to follow.
What must be remembered is that there is much more to football club partnerships then exchanging ideas, exchanging players and hopefully picking up a talented player or two. There can be huge advantages from a commercial aspect to be gained by developing brands, attracting wider support and additional sponsorship etc. There is also much to be gained from the communities and wider areas in which the Clubs concerned are located/ serve. These additional areas are often overlooked but could be just as important to a Club like ours going forward.
Other Premiership clubs are developing relationships in Europe, the United States and further afield but our Club does not appear to be looking at this important area. We strongly believe that this is a missed opportunity.
As mentioned in previous articles, when the trust is formed and raises funds perhaps the trust could finance or part-finance the development of these types of strategic partnerships which would be beneficial to our Club in so many positive ways and on so many levels.
To read our previous articles, please take a look at these:-
How Can City Produce More Young Talent? (20.12.06)
Other Northern Clubs Are Doing It So Why Aren't We? (21.12.06)
Is City Missing Out On Golden US Opportunities (10.2.07)
Another US Opportunity Bites The Dust? (12.2.07)
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