Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Liverpool's Indian Hope Trick

Liverpool FC recently announced the launch of a new academy in India. The Steve McMahon Football Academy, a franchise of the Liverpool International Football Academy, will open its doors in Delhi later this year and three more are planned for other areas of India. After that, Liverpool plan more academies in other Asian countries and beyond.

Unfortunately for the Reds, they seem to have got off to the worst possible start in their quest for world domination of the football academies market. Some journalists stormed out of the press conference for the launch of the Delhi soccer school as Steve McMahon, not known for his PR skills, stonewalled some of the more probing questions about the structure and aims of the academy. Unsurprisingly, a very unfavourable article about Liverpool's plans appeared in The Economic Times of India. If you have visions of urchins from India's infamous slums being noticed and propelled to stardom in a heartwarming rags-to-riches story, then think again. At $1,000 a pop, this academy is for India's burgeoning middle class only.
Some snippets below from the article which can be read in full HERE

What the club is essentially doing is lending its instantly recognisable brand name (for a fee, of course) to local entrepreneurs who would run training camps for well-heeled urban kids who could afford to fork out good money to learn to play the "Liverpool Way"

No screening, no talent spotting. If you can pay, come and kick a ball. This is football as fast-food franchise.

The issue McMahon, and other representatives from Liverpool, were trying to dribble past was that the venture's aim is to simply sell more Liverpool merchandise than produce better footballers.

Spanish giants Barcelona have a programme running for the past couple of years, and not to be left too far behind, arch rivals Real Madrid too started a similar campaign earlier this year. But the different styles adopted by the English club and its continental rivals reflects the EPL's "greed is good" attitude as opposed to the stronger community development commitment clubs in Spain have.

That last line is particularly damning. Remember this comes from the Economic Times, not the Morning Star. When a pro-capitalism, pro-free-market broadsheet is castigating you for putting profit first then there can be little doubt as to Liverpool's motives. And it again underlines that Liverpool's reputation as some sort of community-focused, left-of-centre, people's club in contrast to the rampant commercialism of Chelsea or Man U, is totally misplaced.
But we shouldn't be surprised. On Liverpool's official website, this is the blurb designed to entice investors to open a Liverpool branded international football academy franchise:  From a standard ‘pay as you play’ clinic or school holiday camp through to the ultimate offering with our International Football Academy. Our Academy franchise packages can provide you with the opportunity to develop an integrated brand presence by giving you the option to both (sic) Liverpool Football Club retail merchandising and food & beverage opportunities.

No mention there of helping under-privileged kiddies in poor countries make it to the big time; no mention of helping to improve the standard of football in the countries which Liverpool hope to colonize through their academy scheme. Just talk of selling merchandise and food & drink.
Spirit of Shankly? Spirit of Maggie more like.


BKK Football Blog said...

What happened to Big Mac's 'Profitable Plots' adventure? I believe they went bust.

Stop EPL Colonialism said...

Funny you should ask! McMahon, Liverpool and Profitable Plots is my magnum opus! I should have it up sometime this week. PP have had 304 complaints made against them totalling over 30 million dollars. They are currently being investigated by the CAD (Commercial Affairs Dept) in Singapore and are being sued by ESPN. For all intents and purposes they have ceased to exist but technically have not gone bust.

Leandro Damião said...

I'm brazilian and i approve the idea of this blog. People complain about the local league and teams, but they don't try to improve it by supporting the local teams.

And just a tip, creating a Facebook page will bring more people to this cause and of course will bring more repercussion.

Anyway, lucky with your ideas of supporting local teams

Stop EPL Colonialism said...

Hi Leandro. We started off with just a Facebook page and have found that that is the best way to reach like-minded people (and those with a different point of view!). Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-English-Premier-League-Colonialism-in-Asia/197234330334100

Kaustav's World said...

Well, buddy stop whining. They are not forcing anybody. If they are selling shirts, treat them like a retail store..What Barca and Madrid are doing are admirable, but they are not helping the football cause too. They are engaging in some CSR type activities. What has that to do with football ?

When AIFF itself is ignoring football issues in India why expect some miraculous foreign aid ? I love Mohun Bagan, my local club, but even they cherry pick from Tata academies and other clubs, where is the talent spotting of kids that happen in rest of the globe.

If we are NOT doing anything to promote football in India, lets NOt going with such silly thing as "Stop Colonalism"..If you are really serious about this Colonalism, write blogs against Bollywood stars who wear nothing but imported stuff..but I am sure most of us would do the same in their shoes. This is silly.

A Chelsea fan said...

Kaustav, I couldn't agree with u more! Very well put! Such people wont themselves do anything for the development of football & if they see some efforts being taken by others, they will try n play down those efforts! Absolutely crap attitude..

Stop EPL Colonialism said...

Thanks for your comments. Kaustav, who is "expecting miraculous foreign aid"? I don't think that EPL clubs should necessarily be helping to fund and improve local leagues in Asian countries. The point is, is that that's exactly what they claim to be doing when all they are really doing is merchandising. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I would have far less problem with EPL clubs in Asia if they were just more honest. Why not just say "look, we're businesses, India is a rapidly growing economy so we want to attract new customers from India." Instead they have to dress up their activities as something they're not. Why can't they just be honest about their intentions?

Re: A Chelesa Fan. If encouraging people to support their local teams is a 'crap attitude' then I'm happy to have a crap attitude.

christian nemeth said...

This is a problem we are suffering with, we don't know what is the root cause of our football backwardness, it is lack of infrastructure. I became a football educated person by watching EPL. it helping me when i couch local lads. Let Liverpool do whatever they want, why you expecting them to give a favor for us, the only thing they said is the academy will be self sufficient, and that is a good thing. Unlike some of our clubs Liverpool has a history of nurturing good young players, so all in all i want to tell you please read a bit before writing something.
Midhun, kochi,kerala

Stop EPL Colonialism said...

Liverpool can do whatever they want, and I'm well within my rights to criticise them as I see fit.

"why you expecting them to give a favor for us"
Where did I say I was expecting them to give a favour? I would rather they weren't in India at all, but if they insist on such activities then why can't they just be more honest and open?

Stop EPL Colonialism said...

Funny how there were no comments for a week after the story was put up and then we get three people all jumping to Liverpool's defence within a short space of time. After looking at the traffic sources it all makes sense. 'A Chelsea fan' defending Liverpool? I don't think so. I think it's not only LFC that needs to be more honest.