x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Al Jazira plans Dh250m revenue boost

The Al Jazira Football Club plans to boost its annual revenue to Dh250m through sponsorship deals, new retail outlets and other commercial initiatives.

The Al Jazira Football Club plans to boost its annual revenues through a series of commercial initiatives including retail outlets.
The Al Jazira Football Club plans to boost its annual revenues through a series of commercial initiatives including retail outlets.

They may not be splashing out £60 million (Dh349.4 million) to sign Wayne Rooney just yet.

But Abu Dhabi's Al Jazira Football Club plans to boost its annual revenue to Dh250m through sponsorship deals, new retail outlets and other commercial initiatives.

Currently top of the UAE Pro League, Al Jazira recently signed a sponsorship deal with Barclays.

Phil Anderton, the chief executive of Al Jazira, says other revenue-generating deals are in the pipeline under a three-year plan.

"Over time, we'd like to generate at least Dh250m over all the revenue streams available to us," Mr Anderton said. "I think we'd be able to do that within three years if all the different elements of the plan we put together are successful."

Part of this will be through building on Al Jazira's existing sponsorship deals with Barclays, the International Petroleum Investment Company, Borealis, Aabar Investments, adidas and Bonyan, he added.

"We've got about 10 major sponsorship deals," Mr Anderton said. "We're about to announce a couple of new ones as well. Some of them are international and some are local brands … we want to increase sponsorships but also diversify."

This diversification will include using the club's 42,000-capacity stadium and 2,500-seat arena for other sporting events and concerts. Other plans include retail, hospitality, website advertising, ticketing and an Al Jazira shop scheduled to open in January.

Mr Anderton declined to specify the income Al Jazira receives from the broadcast of games over two local TV channels but he said there was room for these revenues, which are administered through the Pro League, to grow.

Donal Kilalea, the regional chief executive for Promoseven Sports Marketing, said that while Al Jazira had a "powerful product offering", the revenue target was high.

"It's very ambitious in my view. And if they can do it, it will be fantastic," Mr Kilalea said.

He said there was plenty of activity in terms of UAE football sponsorships, mentioning Al Ahli of Dubai, which has signed a sponsorship deal with Toshiba worth a reported Dh10m.

Barclays's two-year sponsorship of Al Jazira, agreed to last month, includes branding of the two towers at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, the club's home ground.

The Barclays deal is thought to be worth Dh25m. Mr Anderton declined to confirm this, citing confidentiality issues.

Al Jazira is owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, who also owns the English Premier League club Manchester City.

Ties between Sheikh Mansour and Barclays are strong after the Abu Dhabi royal was one of three Gulf investors who helped the bank raise £7 billion in 2008.

Mr Anderton said he was keen to build on existing collaborations between Al Jazira and Manchester City. "There are a whole series of opportunities," he said. "We want to try to leverage the relationship as much as we can. There are opportunities in coaching, on the medical side … there are HR opportunities, to give people secondments."

bflanagan@thenational.ae