Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Latest Items of Interest

Rumor has it AC Milan will look to reinvest part of Kaka's signing fee in Arsenal man Cesc Fabregas. Would Arsene do it? Could Arsenal survive if they did?

Wenger appears to be having a much easier time of selling than buying. Chamakh is still in the air, and Arsenal's 5.5 million pound bid for Sevilla centerback Federico Fazio has been nixed by the player himself.

After only one victory in five preseason games, Rafa Benitez is worried about his Liverpool side. How Rafa could be surprised is the real question. Liverpool's let go of five players so far (Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso, Sami Hyypia, Sebastian Leto, Jermaine Pennant) and signed one - Glen Johnson. Even if all the players dropped weren't in the starting eleven, Rafa's gotten much thinner since the summer began, and I don't mean the man himself (though he too could do with some calorie counting by the looks of it).

The Guardian continues to preview the EPL team-by-team, in alphabetical order. Up for today: Chelsea. Go here, about mid-page and find the other previews published so far.

The pay scale at Barcelona looks much the way you'd expect it to look. After his new contract is signed, Messi will be the best paid player, directly above two men who used to be the best paid players at their respective clubs - Henry and Ibrahimovic. Then follow Alves and the players who brought the Euro 2008 back to Spain (Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, and Co.). Finally, Bojan and Pique, the youth system's rising stars are cut above the last income bracket, the youth system's latest call ups.

Barcelona continues to market itself aggressively on their tour for United States domination. They're looking into Eva Longoria (Tony Parker and Thierry Henry are close friends) as a possible representative for the club in the U.S. Mia Hamm may also serve as an ambassador of some kind to the women's soccer movement. Finally, there's been quite a bit of talk of Barca's negotiations with Microsoft for a sponsorship deal. Of course, because Barca is "mes que un club" they're interested in collaborating with Bill Gate's charitable foundations. Cute.

Lovable losers Atletico de Madrid are winning somewhere, if not on the pitch. We've covered their always spectacular marketing campaigns within Spain on FutbolNation, but now there's further proof of Atletico's growing popularity (there are more masochists in this world than I thought). Since 2000 Atletico's fan clubs (penas) have increased by 145 clubs, bringing their total to 671 clubs, 26 located abroad. Since becoming an S.A.D. (Anonymous Sporting Society - a type of corporate entity like LLPs) in the 1991-92 season, the number of "abonados" (Atletico Madrid dues-paying club members) has increased from 13,571 to 48,371. While Atletico's surge in popularity can be attributed to their recent return to European play, the development of Aguero and Forlan up top, and their export of wunderkind Torres to Liverpool, at the end of the day this is a club that hasn't won a title in thirteen years. Not too shabby. Those ad campaigns are really paying off.

Speaking of marketing, this little interactive feature Marca put together about Cristiano Ronaldo is something ESPN or FoxSports could look into (hint: click on the red arrow on CR9's chest to access). Have you noticed ESPN's football coverage trying to make football look like a prepared play sport (ala NFL) by the somewhat ridiculous use of arrows and player shifting? I suppose it's not necessarily a bad thing, but if they're really trying to market the sport, wouldn't interactive features of this type really appeal to casual fans? Slick, informative, fun to watch - it adds a bit more to the discussion of why CR9 was so expensive, don't you think? Now imagine that ESPN puts one of these together for the top 50 players in the world and embeds it within a preview for a team's season. I know, I know, that'd be too crazy.

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