As I sat down to watch the Champions League Final this past Wednesday, the first thought that entered my mind was how the final in Moscow was a preview of what the Premier League’s global expansion could look like. Football chairmen and tycoons around the world must have wondered too how they could get their hands on even a sliver of wealth from what was the richest game in football history, which now rivals the Superbowl in sheer economic strength.
After all, if 42,000 away fans could travel 1,557 miles from England to Moscow, some of them would be willing to travel to other locations farther away to more accessible locations such as New York, Johannesburg, Miami and Dubai, to name just a few cities.
But for the football money men, the supporters of their clubs are the least of their concern. They’ll be wondering how they can package the Premier League matches in such a way to gain the support of fellow clubs so they can launch their enhanced product to cities around the world. Sure, there is much work to be done but the concept of the 39th game is far from extinct.
Chairmen from Premier League clubs will be meeting this June to discuss several topics including the 39th Game concept. The league will undoubtedly try to determine if there is a consensus in pursuing the plans to expand globally and, if so, what changes would need to be made to the business plan to make it a win-win for everyone involved.
Even chief executives of smaller Premier League clubs (in terms of net worth), such as Everton, are finding the prospect of expanding overseas mouthwatering.
Money can be a powerful weapon in the fight to change people’s minds. While the Premier League will never change the minds of the boisterous fans who are opposed to the idea of playing games overseas, Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore will be listening more intently to the club chairmen, sponsors and representatives from the national soccer federations around the world that would need to give their authorization for games to be played in their host country.
The sheer growth of the Premier League worldwide in generating massive amounts of revenue from TV rights deals is a powerful drug that club chairmen of Premier League clubs will continue to swallow. The realization, of course, is that the Premier League still has massive potential to become even more popular in continents such as Asia. Increased millions of TV viewers equals more revenue from TV rights as well as more money spent by advertisers. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The secret to the success of reviving the 39th Game concept is to kill the 39th game. The phrase “39th Game” now has a negative connotation. Instead, what the Premier League needs to do is to repackage the idea, give it a new name and take the correct steps this time to make it a success.
Coming soon, in a future edition of EPL Talk, will be my ideas of how the Premier League can structure their business plan to succeed in their plans to expand their brand globally.