Everton CEO says build Asia ties or 'be left behind'

Having seen its business reorganisation catapult it into the top 20 of the world's richest football clubs, English Premier League club Everton is now assessing how to turn itself into a global brand. According to Ian Doyle of the Liverpool Daily Post, Everton CEO Keith Wyness is "hopeful of similar schemes" to the club's domestic retail partnership with JJB Sports "aiding the club's attempts to gain a foothold in the lucrative Asian market".

Wyness was reportedly critical of Everton's failure to fully capitalise on the opportunities available to them in Asia following the sponsorship deal with Thailand's Chang beer. And, warning of an impending threat to the Premiership's global dominance from the Asian market, he believes Everton, and their domestic rivals, must act now. "In short term we will be competing with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United, but I think in the next 5-10 years we'll be competing with Asian leagues for players," Wyness told Doyle.

"They will get their act together, and we'll see the best talent think about going to China or Japan or wherever. That is why it is important for Premiership clubs like ourselves to captialise on our dominant position in those markets at present.

"And it is so crucial now to strengthen the club and take these steps forward, otherwise we will be left behind not only in the UK and in Europe, but also on the global stage," he said. "I hope the fans can understand that what often feels like a drive for pure commercial greed is instead trying to get a footing in an unlevel playing field that we will be in."

Everton are also looking to build ties with North America. "We're also doing a lot of work in Canada and are very active the US, and I think we will have some big announcements to do with the US very shortly," adds Wyness. "We're talking with Major League Soccer clubs over possible links, which historically haven't really worked. However, we want to have some meat to the agreement, some commercial tie-in, otherwise there's no point in us doing it. We think we may have found a formula to make it work. We're at the start of some pretty exciting stuff in North America," he said.

See also: Real Madrid overtakes ManU as world richest club (17 Feb) and English Premier League to cooperate with Asia (22 Sep 04) and Everton: we are 6th or 7th 'most popular' in Asia (10 Aug 05)