Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mr. Naming Rights Stadium Comes to Vancouver

You might call Paul Barber a visionary.

The Tottenham executive director's announcement last April for plans to open Naming Rights Stadium for the 2012-13 season came well in advance of the stadium sponsorship orgy that has suddenly gripped England. We all had quite a bit of fun with it too, as I recall.

Anyway, Barber's joining the Vancouver Whitecaps in March 2010. The Vancouver Sun puts the move on par with Vancouver winning the NASL Soccer Bowl in 1979. Apparently all of Europe is talking about it; just check Yahoo—NO NOT GOOGLE—the Yahoo co-founder and Whitecaps co-owner Jeff Mallet coincidentally told the press. He even made a cheeky reference to the MLS DP slot, calling Barber their "designated executive."

The move makes ostensible sense, considering Steve Nash and Mallet became buddies with Barber three years ago after Nash, a life-long Spurs fan, inquired about purchasing shares in the club.

But...really? I'm eating this steak sandwich of a story and it tastes a bit dry. Mallet's explanation that the move can be explained because "Paul is a soccer entrepreneur and a businessman at heart," and "his knowledge of Steve and myself offered him that comfort level that the backing is legit" doesn't quite satisfy. A soccer fanatic leaves Tottenham Hotspur at a key moment in the Premier League club's development for a league-less Canadian soccer club waiting in the MLS wings?

I just hope for stability's sake that these guys are as solid business partners as they are "good buddies." It does strike me as more than a bit odd that a young executive with Tottenham Hostpur—a club playing great football, getting noticed with 9-1 shellackings, the whole bit—would announce he's leaving Spurs in the middle of negotiations to secure a sponsor for Tottenham's new stadium.

Or maybe I'm just being cynical...


Elliott said...

When the executives start jumping ship, you know the saying about "rats" and "rough waters." I totally get the same bad vibe and think the EPL is running out of interested, wealthy sheiks (and Americans that don't do their due diligence) and the wage inflation and debt crisis will lead to a CBA strike/lockout/disaster.

Why not leave the dinosaur corporation for the nimble upstart?

Anonymous said...

Because Elliot, Spurs are one of the few teams (like Arsenal) that make money hand over fist every year. And Spurs are only going to be making even more money in their new stadium. Strange move but definitely hopeful for the 'Caps philosophy by getting somebody of this calibur.