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Monday, 6 January 2014

Flurries of Follies Abound in Football

There are three types of ‘dough’. The foolhardy kind, the financial kind and the baked kind and there have been cases of all three within football in recent times on both sides of the pond.

In a story that would make Homer Simpson proud, the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles battled through some of the worst snow conditions in NFL history in a game already dubbed ‘The Snow Bowl’. While much of the league faced cold weather, the two teams met in six inches of snow that would have been more suitable for a toboggan run than a professional game. Quarterback Matthew Stafford, whose Lions side ended up on the wrong end of a 34-20 defeat, said “It’s not the same as a sunny day, that’s for sure. But you’ve got to make adjustments.” The maintenance team at Lincoln Financial Field began shovelling the snow that started falling two hours before the game but conditions were so bad neither team attempted a single field goal.

In warmer climates stories continued to break surrounding the round ball. Due in part to an extremely active transfer window, agent fees reached an all time high last year. Fees paid to sports agents by the 20 teams in the league were recently published as £96m. Chelsea was the biggest spender, parting with over £13m as Jose Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge and a big war chest. Roman Abramovich gave him free reign in the club’s transfer dealings, with Andre Schurrle, Willian and Samuel Eto'o all joining the London club’s expensive roster. Not to be outdone, Manchester City also topped the £10m mark, bringing in Fernandinho, Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo, much to the delight of the sports agencies that represent them.

While major clubs are willing to part with their cash, some fans are not so keen. Most agree the luxury boxes at the Emirates would be a great place to entertain sports management clients but to some that’s only true if you cut the bread properly.  One box owner at the Emirates refused to pay their fees because the bread they were served wasn’t sliced to their liking. According to the Daily Mail, the baked goods lovers were due to pay £465,000 in instalments for the box until 2016. They stopped paying in April 2012, saying Arsenal had promised but failed to take any proper action to fix the bread problem. Still, with Arsenal at the top of the table, there is little chance of the dough debacle affecting their sport public relations.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

A Mixed Bag for England's Hopefuls

The draw for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League was recently made at UEFA’S Swiss headquarters with Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea all in the pot for February’s crunch ties. It was a mixed result however for the English contenders, with Chelsea and Manchester United the only two to leave Switzerland relatively happy.

The same can not be said for Manchester City, who drew the tie of the round against Spanish giants Barcelona. This is the first time the blue half of Manchester has progressed to the knock out rounds having failed in their first two seasons amongst Europe’s elite and Manuel Pellegrini’s men may rue finishing as runners-up in their group. The tie is a dream for sports marketing agencies, as the meeting between two superpowers of the football world will present a pool of PR possibilities.

Any London sports agency wishing access to similar opportunities need not fret, as Arsenal were handed an equally tricky task against current holders Bayern Munich. It is the second time in two years the sides have met at this stage, with Bayern triumphing last year, despite losing their impressive home record in the 2-0 defeat to the Gunners in Germany.

Fans were left much happier on the west side of London as former European champions Chelsea were drawn against Turkish side Galatasaray. The tie marks a return for Chelsea legend Didier Drogba who moved to the Turkish champions via China after eight years at Stamford Bridge. The Blues should have too much for their opponents but will not be thrilled with a lengthy mid-week trip and its potential affect on their domestic ambitions.

Facing a similarly arduous journey abroad are Manchester United, whose draw against Greek champions Olympiacos marks the easiest of the English ties. David Moyes’ men have been off form this season but will remain confident of progressing to the quarter-finals, even if Olympiacos’ hostile atmosphere and geographic location are far from ideal.

In the other fixtures high flying Real Madrid were drawn against Shalke ’04, Borussia Dortmund face a lengthy trip to Zenit St. Petersburg, AC Milan meet Atletico Madrid and cash rich PSG play Bayer Leverkusen. The competition presents an unrivalled opportunity for sports agents to keep tabs on Europe’s best talent whilst also promoting the abilities of their existing clients. The group stages were once again marred by issues of crowd trouble and racial abuse leading UEFA’s sports management teams to look for ways to avoid similar negativities in the knock out rounds.      


Friday, 23 August 2013

Why Big Advertising Is Big Business

The Out Of Home advertising industry is enjoying an unprecedented boom. Advertising agencies and major brands are investing large budgets in all forms of outdoor advertising. 
Even smaller companies and local firms are using big advertising as a means of promoting themselves and attracting more customers.
Demand for big advertising continues to increase and it is clear that OOH advertising has not only survived the recession but is gaining importance. Almost everyone in the industry, from creative agencies to large format printing firms and companies that own the actual sites themselves, has seen a revival in this form of sales promotion which is being used more extensively than ever before.
Ubiquitous presence
Wherever they go, from the moment they leave their homes consumers are surrounded by a variety of big advertising. From hoardings on major roads and motorways to poster advertising in shopping centres, eye-catching displays vie for consumer attention.
Even buildings can now be used as a form of advertising thanks to the building wrap. Scaffolding on construction projects, facades of public buildings and department stores have all been enveloped in PVC mesh printed with colourful graphics and striking messages to promote a project, brand or enhance corporate image.
Big advertising is hard to miss and impossible to ignore!  
Financial sense
The reason why big advertising is becoming so popular is because advertisers know it makes good financial sense.  Compared to other forms of advertising, particularly TV and national newspapers, the outlay for OOH advertising is relatively low.  With a potential audience of hundreds of thousands the Cost Per Thousand (CPM) rates for outdoor advertising are among the lowest in the industry.
Poster advertising also lends itself readily to customisation so the poster message can be adapted easily for local audiences. The production cost of hoarding advertising and posters is considerably less than that of creating an advertising video.  Different versions of a poster can be made for different regions, each displaying for example the address of a local branch of a national company or the nearest retail outlet that stocks the product being promoted.
The development of digital screen advertising has taken the ease of customisation of OOH advertising to new levels. Unlike posters which would have to be reprinted, the image or message displayed on a screen can be updated instantly and at little or no cost.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

5 Best Football Songs

The old tradition of releasing an FA Cup final song – or a World Cup-timed football chant – may be resigned to the past, but these hits have truly earned their place in footballing folklore.
Three Lions – Baddiel and Skinner with the Lightning Seeds (1996)
Originally released as England’s anthem to Euro 96, this went straight to No.1, shooting back there again following its re-release ahead of World Cup 1998. Featuring cameos by England legends past and present, the tune has become synonymous with English football and continues to chart each time England qualify for a major tournament.  This is easily the most recognisable of the chants, and one of the better performances, unlike England’s in the ’96 Euro final.
World in Motion – New Order (1998)
Written for England’s 1990 World Cup team, this was – unbelievably – New Order’s only ever number one. With contributions from the entire squad alongside cameos from comedian Keith Allen and 1966 commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme, it’s perhaps best remembered as a showcase for the hidden rapping skills of John Barnes. Popular demand saw a 2010 re-release, which, whilst not as successful as the previous release, was still a large hit in the United Kingdom.
Fergie Time – Jim Daly (2013)
Star of animated YouTube football channel ‘The Football Special’, Daly’s song dedicated to Sir Alex Ferguson captures its subject perfectly. With reference to the (alleged) leniency Man United are given with regards to extra time, the razor-sharp lyrics successfully but gently poke fun at one of football’s sacred giants.
Anfield Rap – Liverpool FC (1998)
John Barnes first cut his rapping teeth on this record. Released ahead of Liverpool’s FA Cup Final Match, this ‘so bad, it’s good’ classic was a collaboration between Liverpool player Craig Johnston and singer Derek B.
 With wince-inducing raps from the entire team, this Run DMC-inspired jam featured Scouse-infused contributions from Bruce Grobbelaar and legendary commentator Brian Moore. This song, being of a quality similar to Liverpool’s performance in recent years, is more often than not, enjoyed whilst not entirely sober.
Nice One Cyril – Cockerel Chorus (1973)

One of Spurs’ greatest ever players, Cyril Knowles’ popularity was such that this chirpy effort was dedicated to him ahead of the 1973 League Cup Final. The first song to celebrate a player as opposed to a team, it remains an important part of Spurs culture and means even more to their fans following Knowles’ death from cancer in 1991. 

5 Best Football Pundits

With more televised football than ever before, the role of pundits is increasingly under the spotlight. Just as people like to see football change, punditry has now become something of an art - with an emphasis on more personable and interactive analysis.  
These five demonstrate this new world of the art of commentary beautifully.
Gary Neville
The former Manchester United defender has enjoyed an effortless transition into broadcasting, earning an array of plaudits for his unique and insightful analysis of the game. He has enjoyed huge praise for his knowledge of modern football, especially in comparison to older pundits who sometimes seem out-dated and out-of-touch with the current generation of players.
Malcolm Best
The charismatic, sharp-suited host of YouTube animated show ‘The Football Special’ is fast becoming an internet sensation with his witty, satirical observations on the current news and events in football. His rapport with a reluctant Arsene Wenger is one of the highlights of the show – the combination of Yorkshire grit and Gallic sophistication promises comedy every time.
Graeme Souness
Just as fearless and authoritative as he was a player, Souness has established himself as an integral part of Sky’s analysis team with his forthright and articulate opinions. Even more refreshingly, he tackles key issues and decisions head-on rather than avoiding them and is never afraid of upsetting someone. His vast experience both playing and managing at the highest level is always evident in his serious approach.
Alan Hansen
An elder statesman as football pundits go, he may forever be remembered for his dismissive attitude towards a certain group of youngsters managed by Alex Ferguson, but he remains the benchmark for current broadcasters in terms of his ease in front of the camera and longevity. Famed for his cynical attitude to modern defending, next season is reportedly his last as a BBC pundit, so enjoy him while you can, for he isn’t going to last long
Roy Keane
Just as he was the leader for any side he played for during his career, Keane has quickly established himself as the commanding presence of the ITV broadcast team. His first foray into punditry led to his departure from Man Utd following an explosive interview with MUTV which really should have given us a clue about what we were in for!  His stranglehold over Adrian Chiles, Lee Dixon and Gareth Southgate is often a joy to behold.