SHARJAH // Faced with the challenge of generating their own revenue, some Pro League clubs have turned to Germany to learn how to maximise their merchandising income. Georg Grove, who supplies the official merchandise to several Bundesliga teams and the German national side, has signed a deal with Sharjah, and other UAE clubs may follow. Grove, who travelled to the Emirates last week, met with officials of various teams and the UAE Football Association, and a delegation will travel to Germany next month to get some first-hand experience of football marketing and how clubs can profit from branded merchandise such as caps, scarves, mugs and watches.
"The idea is to develop a marketing strategy for the clubs here," said Grove. "So probably a delegation of club representatives and some officials from the UAE Football Association will go to Germany in December to see things for themselves. "They have been invited by Hamburg [where Grove used to be merchandising manager] to see the club play against Rapid Vienna in a Europa League match on December 2. So they will see how things work on a match day.
"We will show them how merchandising, marketing, ticketing and television rights work. Experts will give them presentations. When we come back, we will sit down and discuss how we can transfer these ideas to the UAE. "It is just the beginning of marketing, merchandising and ticketing here. If we go step by step, and make filling up the stadiums our primary focus, use better communication and encourage emotions, success will come sooner than later."
Grove has already delivered his first batch of Sharjah-branded products, which include caps and scarves, and the merchandise was well received by club officials. He said: "I met with officials of the club and discussed the kind of products that would be the best for this market. Hopefully, on my next visit we will have some unique products for Sharjah. Official merchandise is really important for the fans. It gives them an identity, an opportunity to say 'this is my club' and show their loyalty."