Baseball superstar and new Red Sox signing Carl Crawford came at a high price. But this is good news, for Sox fans and Liverpool supporters.
And not just because Crawford wore a Liverpool FC tie to his press conference.
While it may not have been a calculated move—the article suggests Crawford didn’t have the right color neckwear and Sox VP Sam Kennedy just loaned him the red tie—it is certainly fortuitous and maybe even predictive of a future that will bring a strong partnership between the two sporting organizations. And perhaps rich rewards.
“the tension between the Sox and the Reds is more of a sibling rivalry.”
Ever since New England Sports Ventures (NESV) purchased Liverpool, there have been grumblings from each fan-base concerning the sharing of limited resources. As manager Roy Hodgson made his first few signings in August, including the hefty £11.5 million ($18 million US) price-tag of Raul Meireles, fans of the Boston-based baseball team have been voicing concerns that the ownership, whose lavish spending wrangled a long overdue World Series, would stop spending on baseball players at the same rate. Sox fans were concerned that they would have to share funds with the Merseyside-based club, and no longer be able to hold a candle—or even a match—to their eternal rivals, the New York Yankees, who are the most expensive team in all of sports.
Liverpool supporters have likewise whinged—“complained persistently and in a peevish or irritating way,” for our American readers—about not spending the money on players that they feel is necessary if they are to live up to their history as the most successful English football club. Liverpool, too, have to compete with high-spending rivals (i.e., Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, etc.).
American national media has even covered the brooding between the two organizations. However, rather than true animosity, I believe that the tension between the Sox and the Reds is more of a sibling rivalry. Indeed, there are a lot of things in common between Liverpool and Boston, Reds and Red Sox:
- A rich and storied history
- Port cities with maritime, naval, shipping, and trade foundations
- Passionate local support
- Strong national and international support
- The Red connection, of course
- A strong Irish heritage in the cities
- Legendary stadiums with less than adequate revenue capabilities
- Just bad bad winter weather
“By building a global brand partnership, one team’s success travels across all borders to increase revenue elsewhere.”
While NESV insists that the funding for the two sporting organizations is and will be completely separated, one has to wonder if there isn’t some sort of effect across the pond. One example may be in supporters and merchandise revenues.
It’s unlikely that baseball will really take hold in Britain any time soon—though a Blue I know suggested it will happen before Liverpool win the Premier League, the bastard. However, Liverpool is a global brand, and baseball is even more popular than football (soccer) in many Asian nations. In Korea, for example, where Manchester United is the biggest English club thanks to Park Ji-Sung (박지성), baseball is regarded as a more popular sport than the even the wildly well-attended and followed K-League. The same is true of China, Japan, and Taiwan.
In Japan, especially, because of Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka (松坂 大輔), the Red Sox now rival the Yankees for second most popular Major League Baseball team. As a testament to the importance of iconic players to the Japanese market, the most popular American team in Japan is the Seattle Mariners—because Ichiro Suzuki, who is bigger than the Beatles in Japan, plays there.
(Even in less popular sports, like basketball, iconic players have a big impact in international popularity. For example, one of the highest grossing jerseys from the NBA? Yao Ming, the Chinese center for the Houston Rockets. Factor in the amount of counterfeit Yao shirts floating around and he is probably the most successful name in basketball. And basketball isn’t even popular in China!)
On the other hand, football (soccer) is becoming popular in the United States. Beckham is in Los Angeles, Henry is in New York, and Freddie Ljungberg is in Chicago. And Major League Soccer has increased profits and attendance year after year and added several franchises of late. While Manchester United sells best of all English clubs in the US, the second top grossing in shirt sales? Everton. Why, you ask, mind blown? You guessed it, Landon Donovan.
It gives you reason to think thrice about signing Clint “Deuce” Dempsey!
“fans of each club should be building a bond that will synergistically benefit both sides.”
My point is this: Liverpool FC and the Boston Red Sox can grow internationally together. By building a global brand partnership, one team’s success travels across all borders to increase revenue elsewhere. And the Reds link had to be in the mind of NESG when they did the deal.
Although I was brought up a Detroit Tigers fan, I am now more of a Boston Red Sox fan, despite never traveling to Titletown. Why? Because the successes of these teams are tied together.
The Future is Red
If the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC use each other’s reputations to build their global brands and build an even larger fan-base, the value of their advertising, marketing, and merchandise sales will all increase in leaps and bounds. There is no underestimating the impact that an American market, and especially the burgeoning Asian markets, will have on the Merseyside Reds.
And why not be brothers? After all, do we not wear red socks?
The suggestion is simple: rather than being upset about sharing owners—parents, *cough cough*—fans of each club should be building a bond that will synergistically benefit both sides.
The future is bright. The future holds trophies. And, if we do this right, the future is Red.