Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

The battle of football’s ‘global brands’ – in Morocco

Posted by John Beech on August 31, 2011

Last year I blogged on the case of merchandising in Kenya, noting that while clubs such as Arsenal undoubtedly had a presence there, there was little sign of any commercial activity which they were benefiting from.  This summer’s trip to Morocco revealed a significantly different situation.

The overall impression of the top European clubs’ ‘presence’ is summed up in this graffito from Agadir:

And not necessarily in that order!  What of course was not clear was whether the author was a Moroccan or a Spanish tourist.  One suspects naturally the former as presumably a Spanish tourist is unlikely to have promoted both teams.

Certainly the sale of shirts and other merchandising was aimed at both residents and tourists.

[You can click on each of the images for an enlargement;
these four photos are from the souk in Marrakesh]

Observation would suggest that these items are largely aimed at tourists.  For Moroccans there was really only one shirt of choice – a Barca shirt, with in particular a skew towards Lionel Messi, and indeed all items Barca, official or otherwise.

Moroccan national team shirts were popular (but significantly less so than Barcelona shirts).  Although I spotted a couple of Arsenal shirts, and a single Rooney Manchester United shirt, the English Premier League was notable by its near absence.  Which raises the interesting question of ‘why?’.

Sadly I was unable to obtain a Moroccan equivalent of the Radio Times, but it seems likely that Moroccans have better access to La Liga matches than to Premier League ones.  It strikes me that Morocco is now a lost cause in the Premier League’s attempts at global merchandising hegemony.  Could it be that pushing up the price of broadcasting rights to their perceived maximum is actually going to prevent any Premier League clubs becoming truly ‘global brands’?  Once La Liga, Serie A or the Bundesliga has established itself as the league of choice in a particular country, I suspect it will be very hard to supplant.

And finally a promised mention of someone I met – Ken, a Welshman who lives in North London and is more than willing to spread the word:


3 Responses to “The battle of football’s ‘global brands’ – in Morocco”

  1. Ben said

    I just got back from visiting Morocco and was surprised by the dominance of Barca shirts with Messi on the back. A dominance that only seemed to be occasionally disrupted by the odd sprinkling of Seria shirts from Juve and Inter. The only EPL shirts I saw were Arsenal which unsurprisingly had Chamakh on the back. And the only football I saw was the Barca v Madrid game which some locals were watching in a side street bar. Maybe La Liga dominates because of its proximity to Spain. Im sure they must be able to pick up the Spanish terrestrial signal, providing its free to view?

    • John Beech said

      Where abouts in Morocco were you Ben? I was in Marakesh and Agadir. Saw Chamakh shirts too, but very few Italian shirts.

  2. Ben said

    When I say I saw Seria A shirts a mean literally half a dozen. Though that was more than the EPL. I was in Marakesh, Essaouira and the Sahara. I would have travelled to the north had it not been for a fragile stomach! Would have been interesting to see if the Spanish influence further intensified further north.

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