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Legends of the Game #1

Why not give an aspiring young person a chance?  I listened attentively as Zach recited story after story of players from bygone days and thought he deserved a platform to share just a few.  I hope that there are more Zach?

“By Zach Vaughan

As a teenage boy I eat, sleep, breathe and continually speak about Football. If I am not playing, I am on the Xbox, watching a game or researching statistics on-line.

In this introductory article, I want to discuss and highlight the ‘Forgotten Legends of the Game’- players whose careers are outstanding, but are no longer recognised as the exceptional players that they once were.

The first forgotten legend is a Brazilian goalkeeper by the name of Rogério Ceni. He may not be the most iconic Brazilian keeper, but he is one of the best to come from Brazil, for he had scored a whopping 131 goals from penalties and set pieces, the best record for a keeper in the world and having over 500 app for São Paulo. His international record is nowhere near his club record with only 16 app and one goal. Now let’s move onto his trophy cabinet. Ceni won major trophies including three Brazilian leagues and two Copa Libertadores as well as the 2002 World cup and 1997 Confederates cup.

The second forgotten legend is Clyde Best for he was one of the first black players in the English top flight. Best played for West Ham where he was a fans favourite scoring 47 goals in 186 appearances. Best was originally from Bermuda and then moved to the NASL (North American Soccer League) where he would play for Tampa Bay Rowdies and where he won the NASL title in a 2-0 win over Portland Timbers in the Soccer Bowl. Best scored 22 times for the Rowdies. Best also won the indoor title with the Rowdies as well as being named MVP of the tournament and top scorer of the short season with 11 goals and 6 assists. Best later played for Portland Timbers scoring 40 times, Toronto Blizzard scoring 5, Cleveland Force scoring 33, Los Angeles Lazers scoring 29 and very late in his career at Feyenoord scoring 3.

Both Rogério Ceni and Clyde Best deserve the title ‘Forgotten Legend’. Ceni is still the highest scoring goal keeper ever and Clyde Best broke down racial barriers in the English top flight and latter in his career made a positive input on NASL.”

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Sport ‘Asleep at the wheel’?

Reproduced with gratitude to Misha Sher, Worldwide Vice President, Sport & Entertainment at MediaCom:

“What the industry can learn from the best work at Cannes Lions.

Sport is resting on its laurels if it thinks that brands will simply continue to sign up for expensive rights deals.

Sport has it all. Passion, engagement and reach. It’s live, global and social. The ability to connect with consumers through their biggest passion points has underpinned a sponsorship industry that is now worth $60bn per annum and growing at 4.5%.

Sport’s must-watch-live nature has made it a pillar of the communications for many brands. Combine that with the earned benefits of the discussion around the event and it’s been a win-win for everyone involved. Money has flowed to rights holders and their media partners.

Last year the average price of a 30-second spot in the Super Bowl was in the region of $5m.

But even sport must now ponder whether its existing business model is good enough in the digital age. Rights holders need to think carefully about whether brand owners will continue to come back time and again (and pay more for) the same old package.

Even a behemoth like the NFL have seen the viewing numbers decrease while McDonald’s has just pulled the plug on the Olympics. While we shouldn’t draw any conclusions from these specific examples, which aren’t related, it is worthwhile re-examining how sport is addressing its value proposition.

Sport is entertainment as much as a physical contest and just as entertainment has had to upgrade for the 21st century, so too must sports.

The reality is that consumers have far more choice when it comes to entertainment than ever before and never had there been such an intense competition for their attention. Brands, websites, on-demand TV shows are all trying to gain their attention. Sport faces more and better quality competition than ever before.

This is one of the main reasons why ‘content’ has become such a buzzword for brands in recent years. On average, consumers see 5,000 advertising messages per day so grabbing and retaining their attention is no easy task.

Compelling stories, integrated partnerships, inside information combined with high quality video are often the only things that can connect.

Many rights holders have not grasped the importance of this and have not evolved what they’re offering. They are still selling reach and impressions, failing to understand that advertisers are increasingly interested in building genuine connections with consumers. Chief Marketing Officers and Brand Managers don’t set aside sponsorship budgets. They allocate budget where they feel a partnership can provide an effective connection with their consumers. And there lies the biggest challenge for sports right holders. They’re not competing with each other. They are competing with all other genres and channels to demonstrate they have the ability to address business challenges.

How many are fit for purpose in an age where consumers crave different formats, across all digital and social platform at a time of their choosing? When the temptation is to find something more entertaining is just a swipe away, what are sports right holders offering brands that will keep their audiences attention?

Earlier this summer I was on a jury at Cannes Lions judging the best in branded content and brand partnerships in the Entertainment Lions category. What struck me was relative lack of entries related to sport on a shortlist or amongst the winners. Channel 4’s We’re The Superhumans to promote the 2016 Paralympics was a notable exception.

If sport has some of the most compelling stories, which is one of the arguments for the high sponsorship fees, then why are brands having more success through other channels?

It would appear that right now brands (and their agencies) aren’t able to creatively leverage sport partnerships into award winners and while it’s not all about awards, it would be wise to understand why this is the case.

Of course, none of this would matter if the person who signed off sports deals was different from the person who signs off on other forms of marketing. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and with brand budgets tight and accountable, the same CMO will often be comparing and deciding between an entertainment proposal and a sports idea.

The sooner rights holders in sport realize that traditional sponsorship assets aimed at reach are increasingly less valuable, the sooner they can adapt to the ever-changing habits of their fans and expectations of their commercial partners.

Brands are looking for solutions, for ways, not just to reach, but to connect and build affinity with consumers. Sport needs to evolve to address this or it won’t be long before marketing dollars start flowing elsewhere.”

Get Your Kit On

Even choosing a kit shouldn’t be left to a whim.  It is another commercial discipline in running a sports enterprise, where ‘beauty parades’ and bench-marking are prudent.

We have been involved in several competitive tenders for kit suppliers, with that of Manchester Rugby Club the latest.

Following last season’s promotion, this Club is honoured to have been named recently Rugby World Club of the Year. It is the second oldest rugby union club in the World. A 24-acre site with a mix of sporting and social facilities. The Club has some amazing memorabilia that would be prime in any rugby exhibition. Why not see for yourself by visiting?

It thrives on its strong community commitment with teams from Under 7s to Senior Rugby, for men, women, girls and boys. The Club has the whole range of teams that not many clubs can boast.  The Mini and Junior (M&J) section has recently produced some amazing talent with 4 Premiership rugby players (more than any other club in England) and 6 England players in the last 5 years.

ACROBAT | FCSM approached ten suppliers and received ten tenders.  The quality was high and infact all were credible brands in the marketplace, though some more established in Northern Hemisphere than others, but all were suited.

The shortlisting was conducted in accordance with the Club and although two suppliers were favoured in terms of benefit-in-kind, quality, reliability and pricing – only one made the final cut and O’Neills were awarded a 3 year deal taking us to the end of the 2019/20 season.

O’Neills, combined leading edge sportswear design with competitive delivery times. It is Ireland’s leading sportswear manufacturer. A Company steeped in heritage like Manchester Rugby, it was founded in 1918, now trading as O’Neills International Sports Company Ltd and employing over 600 people.

Manchester Rugby Club is currently actively looking for sponsors and can offer both positions on shirts and partnership opportunities that can deliver tangible returns-on-investment.  Please contact Adrian Stores at manchesterrugby@acrobatfcsm.com for informal, no obligation communication on how working together can help a company or brand.

National Pride

It has been with great pleasure that Stockport Volleyball Club (‘the S’PORT) has been accepted into the National Volleyball League (NVL).  From a standing start two years ago, we now compete against the elite in the National League Division 3 North.

The delay is posting is because the process of application has not been straightforward with some stakeholders , outwith the Club, attempting to undermine, our progressive young club.  To date the successes have been primarily at junior level, but now, ‘on the big stage’,  our adult players will simply give it their best shots.

The proposed venue for this completion will be Life Leisure Priestnall that is currently progressing plans so that equipment and line markings as per FIVB court design are incorporated.

With acceptance to NVL the S’PORT enters automatically the Cup – a competition which has proven to be very popular and gives clubs from non-NVL and lower-NVL divisions the opportunity to pit their wits against the Super 8 sides!

Finally, we also have applied to enter the Yorkshire Series ‘Beach Volleyball’ where Coach Rafal and Pawel will show the Stockport-skills on sand.

Anyone interested in playing at whatever level from beginner to elite,   please do check our website and contact info@stockportvolleyball.com in the first instance.  Yours in #volleyball.

Photo caption: Delighted by the appointment of two newcomers to #TheS’PORT Volleyball Committee. Matt and Rafal. Photograph Alongside Chairman, Adrian Stores and Treasurer, Neil Cartwright