Everton COO on developing the brand in Asia

English Premier League club Everton has had a relationship with Thailand for some years but is now expkoring opportunities to link with other Asian countries. Visiting Kuala Lumpur, Everton's chief operating officer, Robert Elstone, talked to the New Straits Times' sports writer, Ajitpal Singh. He opened with a description of what Everton had to offer Malaysia:

We are actually promoting three different packages. The main one is to lend our expertise, including support staff and coaches, for example to clubs, academies and those wanting to set up centres of excellence, to further develop football in the country. Our goal is also to introduce football community programmes to promote the game on a larger scale while the last one is to further develop Everton’s brand in Asia.

Q: How far did you go in promoting these products?

A: I met several government bodies and private sectors and I must say they were very keen to take up the offer. However, nothing is finalised at the moment as I have to get back to the Everton management board on the matter. If everything goes well, the football community programme could kick-off next year.

Q: Have these community programmes, including the setting-up of the centre of excellence, churn out new talents in other countries?

A: We started this programme in Thailand last year and discovered three potential youth players. They had short stints in our academy in Liverpool and the panel of coaches was impressed with one of them. At present, we are working out details to allow this 15-year-old boy, known as "Sham", to train fulltime in Everton. The coaches feel he has the potential to wear Everton’s colours one day.

Q: What about those who do not make it big in football. How will these products help them in their course of life?

A: In a way, it will help instill healthy living among youths. Staying fit and active are important to people especially in today’s world where many practise sedentary lifestyles due to work commitments.

Q: Is there a possibility of reviving the Everton-Rakan Muda grassroots clinics which took effect last year?

A: This is a distant possibility but like I said, I need to go back to Everton and reassess all areas first before making a conclusion which will work out towards a win-win situation for both parties.

Q: Is Everton looking at setting up an academy in Malaysia?

A: We are not looking at it for now. However, we are willing to share our expertise with government bodies and private firms to set up a school of excellence in this country. If this concept becomes a reality, then those who Everton coaches feel have the potential will be offered to join the club’s academy in Liverpool.

Q: Why choose Asia to promote your products and expertise?

A: We feel Asia, which is the most populous continent in the world, offers a larger scale of untapped talent. Many potential players in Asia go unheard of until their retirement due to limited opportunities to play abroad. We hope to develop their skills and help them ply their trade in the English Premiership.