Business of Sport

Pre-season all about business

2011-07-26 10:25
Didier Drogba in Thailand (AP)
Comment by David Brooke

There’s no such thing as building the game of football from grassroots level when there’s money to be made.

Do you remember the days when the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal would take the bus to third division clubs Darlington and Macclesfield in mid-July for pre-season matches? I do, but those days are long gone and instead of some youngster having the golden chance to play against some of his idols, some bloke from the Chicago Fire gets that opportunity because Manchester United are a global brand and heading to America is in line with their strategy of continuing to growing their brand among an ever-growing football population who are just falling over shop queues to get the name “Rooney” printed on the back of a Manchester United shirt.

The fact of the matter is, money talks in this day and age and sponsors and shareholders determine the direction that a football club takes on the ever-competitive global stage. There’s a reason why Chelsea  head to the Far East to play some far-flung Thai team (that’s not the team name by the way), it’s because there are a few million people walking around Thailand with the blue of Chelsea and the name “Drogba” emblazoned on the back.

Here in South Africa, we’ve been accustomed to international teams coming down to play our local teams, but why do they only play Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates year after year? Well, it’s pretty simple, yet pretty clever by Vodacom.

The cellular giants sponsor both Chiefs and Pirates and know that the only two clubs in the entire PSL who can fill out stadiums around the country, and not only Soweto, in pre-season, are these two rival clubs.

This subsequently opens up their brand to provinces like Limpopo, where the opening game between Chiefs and Spurs took place recently. Their brand was seen by 40 000 people inside the stadium and according to SAIL executive and Vodacom Challenge tournament director, Jabu Mathibela, the match between Chiefs and Spurs achieved a 29% higher share of the market than normal TV programming during the same timeslot – that’s a pretty good branding exercise if you ask me!

So, if you’re one of those millions of football fans in Thailand, or up in Limpopo, enjoy your opportunities to catch a glimpse of the likes of Drogba and Van der Vaart in your backyard, because some bricklayer in Darlington is missing out on that opportunity.

David Brooke is the Commercial Manager of



Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring


Quiz: Test your Rio Olympics memory!

Think you know what went on at the Rio Olympics? Prove it by tackling Sport24's ridiculously impossible yet highly addictive post-Games quiz!


Rio Olympics

GALLERY: SA's Rio Olympic medallists
As it happened: Rio Olympics - Day 17
Selecting 6 numbers turned Britain into Olympic superpower
Caster cranks up the heat in Rio semi
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


Follow all the action from the 2016 Rio Olympics. The highs, the lows, the tears, the smiles as the world's greatest athletes compete for gold, silver and bronze.

Latest blogs

The world's fastest man argued he should be in the pantheon of sporting heroes along with Pele, Muhammad Ali and Michael Phelps. Who of those four is the G.O.A.T?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.