TThe European Super League may be in the trash now, but Premier League clubs – even those who have not been invited to the proposed indoor arena for the world’s richest clubs – are still looking for ways to expand their commercial reach around the world.
Everton, a rival to Liverpool but not a threat to the elite of English football given their recent position in the Premier League, have presented an international strategy to expand their fan base across North America and, as a result, their commercial opportunities. … It is the latest cross-sport and league team to dream of getting rich in the largest sports market in the world. But, as always, the question remains: how realistic is this dream?
Everton’s international plan includes youth academies, pre-season tours for both the men’s and women’s first team, and partnerships with a sports marketing agency in Miami to attract new North American fans.
“Our strategy was formulated before the Super League was discussed,” says Richard Kenyon, head of marketing, communications and international cooperation at Everton. “Everton has made it clear that he is up against the Super League, and the offer has come and gone. Our international strategy is designed for the long term.
“We focused primarily on North America and the United States, as well as a few other countries where we know there is room for growth – Colombia and Brazil. We asked ourselves where are our fans? Where do we already have links? “
Everton’s interest in Colombia and Brazil is based on the current squad, which includes Colombian footballers James Rodriguez and Jerry Mina, as well as Brazilian Richarlison, but his interest in North America is more evident, even if former USMNT player Tim Howard. Prekey, Joe-Max Moore, Landon Donovan and Brian McBride have seen their names on Everton’s team tables over the past few decades.
The rise of football in the United States is seen as fertile ground for European expansionism – whatever form it takes.
According to David France, Everton’s Liverpool historian who has lived in the United States for 44 years, the club has a long relationship with North America. France has written 18 books about the Merseyside club and his latest book, Toffee Football: Everton and North America. – Collaboration with Everton FC Media Director Darren Griffiths and football historian Rob Sawyer – Reveals Everton’s ties to North America.
Toffee Soccer includes a survey of North American Everton fans asking why they support a possibly underperforming team across the Atlantic. Only 100 fans took part in the survey, but the answers remain informative.
“What excites me is that these American fans chose Everton,” says France. “As a child, I was brainwashed and had no right to vote. Everton are in a very poor part of Liverpool, a very poor part of the UK and a very poor part of Europe, but Americans love history and Everton has an unprecedented history. American fans are also attracted to the club’s values. One of the features of Everton is that he never disgraced the city in which he was born and behaved appropriately.
“Third, Everton is not Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester City. Everton fans cannot be accused of jumping on the bandwagon. “
Yet it is for these reasons – Everton does not share the success or name recognition of Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool or Chelsea – underscoring how serious penetration into the North American sports market will be a challenge for the club. The metaphorical US sports highway is littered with examples of international clubs and even entire sports trying to grab a piece of the American pie.
Major European football clubs have opened commercial offices in the United States in an attempt to attract potential sponsors, while the Australian Rules Football League and Rugby League have made various attempts to gain a foothold in the United States, but have generated little interest.
When the entrepreneur announced plans in 2017 to create a professional NYC rugby league team that would compete in England, the announcement was met locally with a clear lack of interest – regardless of the stellar headlines created in Sydney or Warrington. …
“The American sports market is so saturated right now, and there are so many leagues and so many traditions, that foreign sports are hard to catch on,” says Orin Starn, professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University.
“The United States differs from many countries in the world in that it is a multicenter sports system. You have three main sports, hockey and soccer, unlike Europe, South America or Africa, where soccer is king. There is not much space here that could be colonized from the outside. “
“With the exception of MMA, not a single new sport has emerged in the past few decades. This is a really tough and competitive market. It is also a marketplace where you have teams with deep roots and deep followers at the local level. Americans are always ready for a new taste of espresso or a new cheese from France, but not really [new] a sport that has become imported into the United States. “
Starn adds that while European football clubs have made huge strides in the US, this is not because they set up marketing offices in North America.
“I have students wearing Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City jerseys – something you would never have seen on an American college campus 20 years ago. But this is because we are now living in the global sports market.
“Over the past 15 years, we’ve had teams like Manchester United come to play for the MLS to raise their brand profile, but since these big football clubs are such iconic global brands, they don’t need to build academies or PRs. firms. “
Everton are nevertheless adamant that their approach will differ from that of Manchester United and Liverpool – and one of the reasons for this is that they cannot yet guarantee success on the pitch. Rather than looking for glory hunters in the pursuit of success, the club plans massive engagement with Everton’s existing fan networks and will target young fans across America via social media.
“We can’t control what happens on the pitch, but we can control the interactions,” says Jurgen Meinka, a longtime US football manager whose Miami-based Pulse Sport and Entertainment will become Everton’s boot on the ground.
“When I told my daughter about my new job at Everton, she didn’t look for the website,” explains Mainka. “She was looking for a channel on TikTok. It’s about being where the fans are. It’s not about a 50-year-old who watches 90 minutes. This is about the new generation. You have to be interesting, funny and speak their language. Who wears your shirt in the music business? Who is the coolest Miami graffiti artist wearing your clothes? This is how the interaction begins. “
David France recognizes that Everton cannot compete commercially with Manchester United or Real Madrid, and in a global sports market where branding is everything, his club needs to create its own niche.
“Everton can be a very special club for special people,” France says, acknowledging that a team must also be successful on the pitch in order to have any impact in the United States.
“Everton cannot expect to play in Michigan in front of 100,000 people like Manchester United did, but there is no point in pursuing these international initiatives if there is not a certain level of success. Americans may love losers, but they also love winners and artists. “
Even if Everton’s future team can achieve the dizzying heights of success that, say, Leicester City have achieved over the past few years, the reality may be that there are only so many opportunities for football success in the US.
“These teams would like this to be America’s second conquest, but America is already colonized by sports,” Starn says. “No society in world history has been more obsessed with sports, staked so much money, and mobilized passions and myths like the sport in the United States. The bottom line is that there is not much uncolonized space to plant your flag. “
Toffee Football: Everton and North America David France, Rob Sawyer and Darren Griffiths (DeCubertin) published on June 11, 2021.