Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Is Asia contributing to European football health?

Professor Tom Cannon, the former head of Manchester Business School, believes all Premiership clubs are starting to feel the pinch because the Asian market has peaked and that overseas revenues streams are declining.

"Asia is bad. It has been a late summer shock for everyone who thought the Asian market was about to take off. I expect the Asian market may have peaked for European and English football," he said. "The gates for the big teams like Real Madrid and Manchester United were poor. The clubs may have got the money, but if they can only half fill stadia, what hope is there for other clubs that don't have that global brand.

"All the revenue streams in this country are on the decline, television money is down, attendances are flat. There are serious questions about where revenue is coming from."

Professor Stefan Szymanski, an industrial economist and specialist in the business of sport, takes the opposite view and compares the football markets in Asia with the dot com boom. The financial markets collapsed when it became apparent the internet was not a bottomless money pit but dot com business has continued to increase steadily after that initial spurt.

"I have never seen football healthier. It has never been more popular and will continue to grow at a healthy rate," he said. "Football has still got some way to go to catch up with American Football. It is an incredible powerful brand."

But football's growth will not be painless and Professor Szymanski feels a European Super League is inevitable.

"Within football itself, there will be huge numbers of losers out of the restructuring that will take place to extract new sources of income," he said. "The little clubs will become more and more isolated as the hard core of big teams dominate everything. The European Super League is inevitable." - from PA Sport

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