Newcastle Fall Behind On and Off Pitch
I was interested to read a recent article regarding the [intlink id=”43344″ type=”post”]Newcastle United brand[/intlink] and how other clubs across England & the rest of Europe are now either ahead of us, or are overtaking/catching us up.
I’ll be straight with you, I am no financial or marketing wizzard, just a working class kid from the East End who has always enjoyed gannin to games since 1972.
I work for a company on the phones that tries to look after its customers, so all I really know are some basics principles about trying to look after your customers and trying to grow the business – as well as retaining our existing database so it keeps me in a job.
To me, NUFC have a lot of strong features about them, be it the colours of black & white (recognised worldwide with a couple of others famous B&W tops), one of the clubs that can truly call itself UNITED due to its rich history, the fanatical fans, brilliant attendances, the history, FA cup tradition, renowned no.9s etc.
This club of ours has (or should I say had) a lot going for itself. What we have seen in the last few seasons is a lack of investment in playing staff, PR, marketing, administration (i.e ticket office), lack of the best academy personnel, a foundation lacking in many ways compared to others.
Basically, the club appears to be running on the minimum (infrastructure) after dozens of loyal and hard working club servants were let go after relegation and never replaced. Meaning it’s run on a shoestring, and if our club can find a way of getting an extra quid or thirty off you per ticket or membership they will.
I also fear what our reputation is these days in the wider football world, because of the way they have conducted business with others clubs. I guess if and when our current owner leaves this reputation may take years to rebuild.
I know it may seem to some like I am going over lots of old ground but this isn’t yet another article to slate the big boss, simply how I see things. Until we are told (honestly) otherwise from the big man in charge, then speculation and inaccuracies will continue. I nearly always believe there is never one reason why things go wrong, as often I find it’s nearly always a combination of things.
KK proved in the past, that when everyone is working as one team on and off the pitch, pulling together and pulling out all the stops to create extra income, it gives the club that extra flexibility to go one more step up the ladder and it’s a fact that you can’t do anything without money .
In recent times we have seen NUFC shops being closed and taken out of prime locations, as well as the quality and quantity of products being questioned. I accept the fact that the owner may have resigned himself to the fact that some or all were simply not making a profit, but sadly no more prime locations for official club memorabilia and match tickets for customers, therefore, encouraging more online sales with less overheads.
Having said that, our owner already has existing prime locations to sell Toon shirts (assume it has a massive profit margin), hence, why it made sense to disband all bar one shop and the cynical amongst us know by now, anything that effects his own core business is simply getting in the way and must be terminated.
One of the most simple things I think people see that relates to football a brand is our own club crest/logo, but ours in the last few years isn’t even embroided onto the shirt and looks as if it’s just been stuck on. It says to me it’s cheap and horrible, not even a fashion item like some tops in the past.
Strangely, many teams including non-league teams, have a crest that cannot be separated from the shirt and is interwoven into the fabric. Back to the old board in the KK era, I remember the excitement at the time because they had secured a fantastic Asics deal. Soon after, we moved onto one of the best shirt providers in Adidas but nowadays, some of the most influential shirt suppliers who pay the most (for top teams, or teams who sell shirts well) appear not to want to be associated with us (for many reasons) so we are left with one of the lesser shirt manufactures and sponsor, so again our image and reputation is being affected.
In KK days gone by, home programmes sales for example used to be more or less sold out every single home game but I doubt that is the case now. Of course success on the field helps to generate other income, such as when I take my lad along to a game, like thousands others I find the club are guaranteed to get on average 4 refreshments out of me as well as that programme, which means often it’s an additional twenty notes per game. Now just imagine X thousand parents with children doing similar, yet outsourcing stadium catering when surely it’s an area which could bring in additional revenue? Our club website isn’t the best in the world as from what I gather, most of the toon fans refer to other alternative well respected independent sites for news.
Gone are the days when we had a first class executive in Freddie Fletcher (your achievements won’t be forgotten Freddie) and the club had a barrowload of requests for games across the world.
Now your brand is even more important in places such as The Far East, Indonesia, US, Australia, Scandinavia and further across Europe. Currently, I guess we struggle to even promote our brand in the UK never mind worldwide.
I know Liverpool made a huge amount of short-term income from a trip to Australia last summer, as well as creating some long-term goodwill. I also know twice LFC flew in and out of Dublin in the same day in the last 9 months to play in 2 friendly games, packing out the Aviva stadium.
The penny may be dropping at SJP after what appeared to be a do it on the cheap pre-season strategy in recent years. However, for whatever reason NUFC have chosen trips to start promoting the club name in Germany and New Zealand this summer, not destinations with the best of growth potential for a Premier League club (brand).
Surely, it shouldn’t be that difficult for AP, the board (if we had one) and our marketing dept (if we had one) to have previously come up with a pre/end of season planned visits to various countries to generate income, publicity and good PR as well as arranging some decent opposition at the same time.
Three departments of a well-known sporting brand working together to formulate some kind of strategy to achieve good training locations, increase worldwide appeal, as well as give those ex-pat Toon fans around the world a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the lads on their own doorstep. Goodness me, even our neighbours down the road had a go with someone called Niall at one stage working in an international capacity, helping to promote the team/city/brand/club and bring in new sponsors.
I doubt if NUFC have even got the foresight to consider taking someone from the local council with them to Gelsenkirchen (sister city where Schalke are based) to strengthen some existing links on behalf of the community and explore some opportunities for schools etc. to visit one another. I just fear we have fell so far behind we will never catch up and I forecast that in 5 years time, clubs with a far inferior fan base will no doubt have a superior advantage on NUFC.
Our once trusted brand name is declining rapidly, most of which is down to our own management’s fault. I bet with the increase of foreign owners such as Leicester and Hull, that their owners are more than likely to be promoting their clubs in those respective countries and in turn building up both commercial and supporter awareness.
Lastly, as our club’s communication ‘skills’ happen to be the most worrying aspect of this club’s recent history, it doesn’t bode well for selling and promoting the Newcastle United brand.
If this club is to progress, it must start exercising our brand as much as possible to everyone inside and outside the north east.
We live in hope, if not in expectation.
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