Writer: Christian Saunders
Date:Thursday August 13 2009
Cardiff City have had their fair share of headlines over the past few weeks, mainly centred on the clutch of transfer comings-and-goings, the move to the new stadium, and that glorious 4-0 opening-day thrashing of Scunthorpe. Indeed, with all that's been happening any fan could be forgiven for completely missing what has the potential to be the most important development in the club's illustrious history.
It is no secret that since the beginning of the year Peter Ridsdale and other members of the clubs hierarchy have been locked in discussions with mysterious potential benefactors somewhere in the Far East. Speculation has been rife, but the true nature and purpose of the talks was never made public. Until now.
Enter Football Focus Asia. Yes we know it sounds like a Saturday afternoon Chinese TV show, but in reality FFA is an organization at the very forefront of football in the Far East. Formed in Kuala Lumpur in 2006, FFA is dedicated to taking the beautiful game to the masses and specializes in brand awareness. They arrange showcase events, exhibition matches, publicity tours, and foster various youth development projects.
Officials from Cardiff City have expressed a serious interest in these youth development projects and are likely to offer their expertise and guidance, as well as provide coaches. In return Cardiff will be one of just a handful of clubs afforded the pick of emerging talent in the Far East. Whilst in the UK there are 92 league clubs, all with a network of scouts frantically vying with each other to uncover the next gem, the bulk of Asia is largely an untapped market.
The new link-up with Cardiff City will also involve lucrative pre-season tours to Malaysia and other Far-eastern territories, which could provide a platform for City to tap into football's burgeoning popularity in the Far East much like Manchester United, Chelsea and other European giants have before them. In time it is hoped that this will generate a significant cash boost and raise Cardiff City's profile higher than it has ever been before, eventually making the club a global brand. The public face of FFA is property tycoon Dato' Chan Tien Ghee, and Ridsdale is certain to exploit his business links and considerable influence to sniff out the most mutually beneficial arrangements possible.
Ridsdale has gone on record as saying:
"It's a massive coup for Cardiff City Football Club. At this stage its essentially a work-in-progress, you don't do things overnight in the Far East. They want to know you, trust you, and trust what you say. It will be a long-term alliance".
The link-up has officially been labelled a 'strategic marketing alliance', and the club's main objectives will now be to secure naming rights for the new stadium and shirt sponsorship for the coming season, and probably beyond. We can expect developments in both these sooner rather than later. His business acumen may not be to everyone's liking, but this time Ridders looks to have pulled off a master-stroke.
Date:Thursday August 13 2009
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