Kagawa’s Move

Manchester United recently signed Shinji Kagawa, the Japanese midfielder who has won two titles with Germany’s Borussia Dortmund.  I think he’s a terrific player, and I wish Arsenal had signed him.  He’s also a terrific business move, an area in which United’s shrewdness in player acquisition seems to outpace other teams:

Kagawa could be a game-changer.

That impact is sure to have commericial tentacles, as when any big European clubs signs an Asian player. The Red Devils may not have the support of 10 percent of the entire planet, as was claimed recently, but on the world’s biggest continent, it is the most popular overall. In Japan, whether that was the case before was debatable, but soon there will be no doubt.

The Manchester marketing men have been here before with Park and Korea — a three-way relationship that serves as a textbook lesson on how to achieve something approaching domination in one country. Not long after the appearances and medals started to flow then, more than one million club credit card holders, two major sponsors and regular and lucrative exhibition games followed.

Manchester United signed Javier Hernandez of Mexico and Ji-Sung Park from South Korea, and I have to think marketing was a factor in both decisions.  What is particularly interesting relative to previous discussions here about the strength of leagues in foreign markets, is how the presence of the English Premier League on Japanese television influenced Kagawa’s decision:
Klopp has given up hope of the 23-year-old changing his mind, believing that Dortmund simply cannot compete with the lure of the Premier League.

“We cannot take away Shinji’s childhood and his Japanese culture,” the 44-year-old coach told Suddeutsche Zeitung.

“Where Shinji was born, our league means nothing, there is only the English Premier League.

See my earlier post about La Liga shifting game start times as a means of challenging the EPL’s dominance.



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