Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Soccerex: failing to interest clubs outside the Gulf

Soccerex has become the leading annual Middle East football convention since it settled in Dubai in 2001 and this year's has been a success according to local and international media interviews with organising officials.

"This time there are more than 2,000 delegates, from 650 last year," new business development manager, Steven J Allen, told Khaleej Times. He explained that Soccerex this year, had attracted companies from different business backgrounds, but not only football. “We have companies here dealing in banking, ticketing and even law firms,” he added. "There's more business than you can shake a stick at," organiser Duncan Revie said to Bloomberg.

The event also received media attention from controversial remarks from the many English guest speakers. For instance English Football League chairman, Sir Brian Mawhinney, took the English Football Association and the English Premier League to task over the regulation of agents' fees. His use of the forum to threaten a breakaway by his 72 clubs over the issue took a domestic issue global and was widely reported.

There is concern, however, that Soccerex may not develop into the international event its owners and the Dubai government are hoping for.

According to Soccer Investor (16 November), there are not enough clubs attending and it has an "over-strong Emirates bias". The industry journal, a Media Partner to the event, estimated the number of delegates at a much lower 1,200 of which "only 151 were representatives of clubs" and where "35% of the club total was accounted for by representatives of clubs from the Gulf states".

Soccer Investor further suggested that that football clubs in the Gulf, "with state of the art facilities but few fans", have a "very different demand function for goods and services than many of their European and even other Asian counterparts" and, with the "few big clubs attending providing mainly speakers, there were few opportunities to reach the ultimate buyers of the products sold by many of the exhibitors: player analysis systems, artificial turf, stadium design, ticketing systems, security systems."

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