Khumalo, a commercial success?

A quick up date on our South African Bongani Khumalo over his impending move before we come to possibly the real reason he was signed.

Bongani to Ipswich Town is getting ever closer with all parties very keen to come to an arrangement for a season long loan. The 26-year-old has impressed Blues boss Mick McCarthy during the friendlies at Crawley and Gillingham.

The former South African captain has been training with Ipswich under the eye of their boss Mick McCarthy and Khumalo feels he is just the man to get the best out of him and improve him as a player as McCarthy was a former centre-half himself.

McCarthy played for Barnsley, Man City, Celtic, Lyon (France) and Millwall before his managerial career began at Millwall, taking in stints for the Republic of Ireland, Sunderland, and Wolves before being appointed Ipswich Town boss on 1 November 2012. He also played 57 games for the Republic of Ireland. You could say he has a wealth of experience as a centre-half and a coach to call upon.

Khumalo is relishing that. His representative Matt Kleinman speaking to South African website Soccer Laduma said:

“Mick McCarthy has been very impressed with what he’s seen from Bongani so far and it’s highly likely that they’ll pursue the option to loan him from Tottenham Hotspur. It’s something both clubs want to do. Bongani just wants to be playing football in England.

“He feels like a move to Ipswich could really rejuvenate him. Mick McCarthy is obviously a former centre-half himself and he’s really filled Bongani with confidence again.”

Clearly the two have gelled and talks are at an advanced stage. Currently Ipswich only have two centre-halves on their books so McCarthy is keen to add reinforcements.

In January 2011 Khumalo joined Spurs for £1.7 million from South African club Supersport United, who are giants domestically. Tottenham have had a partnership with Supersport at youth coaching level since 2007 and Bongani's transfer would have gone a long way to helping the club financially. Was this the reason he was signed or was there more to the deal?

Bongani has never made an appearance for Tottenham but with emerging markets like Africa it's important to get your brand their first. A star from one country can join a Premier League club and significantly boost the interest and brand awareness in a new market. Real Madrid signed David Beckham and for any club he was a commercial phenomenon, Cristiano Ronaldo and eventually Gareth Bale will follow in his footsteps

There are South African readers of this blog so perhaps who arguable would not have been readers if it were not for Bongani, so has his contribution and value to Tottenham Hotspur has gone largely unnoticed by fans?

In 2011 Spurs went on a branding awareness campaign in South Africa under the banner "Glory Glory."
Perhaps therefore we have gained supporters, grown awareness of the Tottenham brand on the African continent and have had commercial opportunities that we would not of otherwise received.

The club have an estimated 3 million core fans and a further 179 million worldwide. These fans have been looking to derive some revenue from their worldwide fan base but are estimated to be 3 to 4 years behind Manchester United who lead the way. Man Utd for instance sell 1.4 million shirts a year, Chelsea 910,000, Liverpool 810,000, Arsenal 800,000, AC Milan, who sit 10th in the shirt sales table, 350,000, Spurs who sell less than these clearly have some catching up to do. The Champions League is vital to that and gives clubs a huge commercial advantage.

The Spurs brand is distinctive, it is based around three values,  flair, style and adventure. The brand is then used to attract sponsors, again something Man Utd are very successful at. Think Gareth Bale for a moment and he fits that brand perfectly, he has those three qualities, the brand of football employed by AVB fits those three values. The Tottenham way, the fans expect a certain style, well reading the interview below you'll see that it is in fact a club necessity.

In 2011 Tottenham Hotspur executive director Charlie Wijeratna gave this interview at a Sports Marketing 360 event in London.

“The appetite is growing.

“On top of this Premier League platform you have Tottenham Hotspur. The interest is massive in Asia, including China.

“There are more people outside the UK who like and follow Spurs than there are inside the UK. The club sells out every match at its 36,500 capacity White Hart Lane ground, has 23,500 season ticket holders, and a further 32,000 people on a paid-for waiting list for season tickets.

“But we drive zero revenues from these 179 million fans at present.

“Manchester United are three to four years ahead of us in this. Very few other clubs derive any income from all these people who care about them overseas.

“How do we create value for sponsors from all these people who want to support us?

“Tottenham Hotspur’s brand is the club’s most valuable asset,” asserts Mr Wijeratna. The greatest value of a sponsorship lies in being associated with the brand – the marks, imagery and values.

“We play attractive football, that is something that goes back to the start of the last century.

“We want people to think about what makes us different – Spurs has a distinctive brand around these issues of flair, style and adventure.

“We are trying to find commercial partners who value [the Spurs brand]. We will be giving commercial partners access to something people want to be involved with.

“We own the access to our players at all other times, such as training. We can create bespoke content, filming training for example. There is an immense interest in the players and in this side of things.

“At the moment I don’t think the club is really making the most of that.

“This will be the best stadium in the country. It has been designed with the fan experience as the most important thing.

“We are one of two or three clubs in the country who can fill a 60,000 stadium relatively easily. At present we cannot fulfil demand. Also, Arsenal and Manchester United take considerably more revenue from each home game than we do, that is because of the size of the stadium."

"When the club played Real Madrid in the quarter-final of the Champions League, they only had 5,000 tickets available for sale and 70,000 applications to buy them.

“When financial fair play kicks in that will change the balance. Spurs makes an operating profit, and has done for a long time.

“Very quietly Spurs is getting ‘with it’. We are going on a journey, and it is going to be very exciting.”

Khumalo has given the club exposure and his success commercially is intangible, but for me that was the sole reason we bought him.

There is more to Tottenham than just the XI in the 1st team.


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