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LeBron James to be given a minority stake in LFC

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Just found this artical, which is old, but shows how crazy they are about it over there and its growth potential. All you need is a tiny slice of the pie, but when that pie is a country with 1.3 billion people, the numbers become massive.


Lebron James Wants to Make $1 Billion in China– Expat Corner | eChinacities.com


Lebron James Wants to Make $1 Billion in China


May*26,*2009By Fred Dintenfass, http://www.eChinacities.com**

Yesterday’s article WHAM! The First Western Band in China covered Wham!’s efforts to become the first western band to play in China. Wham! came to China because they wanted to become the biggest band in the world, in just 2 years. In the early years of an incredible career, basketball superstar Lebron James has declared a similar wish: to become the world’s first “billionaire athlete.” In the same way Wham! used China to catapult their already burgeoning career James hopes to use the Chinese market to propel him to even greater heights. Just like Wham!, almost 25 years before, James’ efforts haven’t always met with success. At the same time China’s opening up has made it easier for foreign companies and products to succeed in China, China’s greater influence as an international market and political force has made the consequences of upsetting Chinese officials or consumers much greater.

This week, a Chinese investment group is proposing to become minority owners of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jian Huahuang, a Chinese businessman who has been involved with brokering deals with the New York Yankees and other American sports franchises, is leading an effort to purchase up to 15% of the management company that owns and runs the team and their arena. Every report of the deal talks about the effect this might have on James’ decision when he becomes a free agent in 2010. Many speculate that James – one of the hottest players in the NBA, and a Ohio native – will strike out for a larger market and a more winning team. However, most recent estimations regard the deal as a good way to keep James in Cleveland. If the deal goes through the team will be able to offer him a higher salary and the Chinese connection will grant him better access to the world’s largest emerging market for basketball. Over 300 million people in China play basketball, almost as many as the entire US population, and Kobe and Lebron were ubiquitous even before the summer Olympics.

Despite the success of homegrown Yao Ming and the lesser success of Yi Jianlian, the most popular basketball player in China – and by extension perhaps, the world – is Kobe Bryant. Last year, I polished subtitles for a short video that. though written by a college aged man, sounded like a love letter to Kobe written by a 14 year old girl, complimenting him repeatedly on his handsomeness, hoping Kobe bears a son this year, and pleading for Kobe to return to China. James is hoping to supplant Kobe as China’s favorite b-baller and parlay his Nike sponsorships into bigger endorsement deals that will lead to billions. James claims to have been learning Mandarin so he could do interviews by 2008 (it’s not clear whether or not that ever occurred or if he is continuing the lessons) and has already made four trips to China. There are rumors he is buying a house in Beijing. “You have to think globally,” James has said, “I have a lot of fans in China, and they’re important to me.” Chinese fans return the love, “I want to shout and shout for him and watch his game,” said a Chinese teenager named Guo, with James’ initials painted on to his arm, “I’m proud of watching him play. I’m mad about him.” For some, James is more than just a basketball player, he’s a symbol of a way of life “I think he is more than an individual. He has started a new craze around the world,” Guo continues, “I will support him like I’ll cry for China at the Olympics.” Huang Risheng, writer for China’s Titan sports newspaper says, “The Chinese are looking for individual heroes,” he says, explaining James’ reception by Chinese fans, “We are not open enough, not extroverted enough. We like the individual effort, just one man saving the whole team like James.”

Revenue from basketball in China has grown 10 times in the last five years to a projected 1 billion USD this year. James, who currently makes 23 million a year, is looking to surpass Tiger Woods (with whom he shares a birthday), who’s yearly income is now around 73 million US Dollars. James has a massive 7 year, 90 million dollar endorsement deal with Nike which he signed right out of high school and the deal has played a major part in his popularity in China, as well as caused him some problems with Chinese fans.

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I still don't understand how having a basketball player as a minority shareholder is going to sell us more shirts or increase our exposure in the far east. I really don't get it.


They don't have world reknowned teams of their own so every little helps when choosing from another country. Look how many fans Pompey got over there after the F.A cup win.


Fans in the far east are known to predominantly support players rather than teams, so Lebron's huge fan base will see that he's actively supporting LFC and will want to copy him. (see also David Beckham's popularity, millions of fans switched allegiances to Real Madrid and LA Galaxy in turn following his transfers.


They are also known to be fickle, desperate to be associated with success. They see Lebron (one of the most accomplished and well known sports stars on the planet) is associated to LFC and they themselves will want to be associated with us; because Lebron is. If that makes sense?


Obviously success on the pitch is more important to our extended fanbase but being associated with an Elite sportsman like Lebron James certainly can't hurt.

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Ugh, I don't like this at all. I cannot stand LeBron James, he's a superstar athlete of the absolutely worst kind and I follow the NBA closely. I'm surprised a Boston based group decided it was a good idea.

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It's weird. But it's not as if he's going to be making boardroom decisions.


I do fully anticipate him to be paraded around Anfield, I also fully anticipate adverts where he's playing for Liverpool FC. Donning the shirt, heck even some role reversal with Gerrard playing in the NBA.


It's about exposure, it's about money. I already want to see who this guy is, and I'm pretty sure some fans of his, and his team want to see who we are.

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We are one of the few countries who doesn't follow Basketball. Our club's name has just been plastered all over the world, for exposure it is an exceptional move. I don't see how anyone cannot understand why it has been done.

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Tying ourselves in may not be about how many shirts and other merchandise we sell, it might be about corporate sponsorship and having him on board gives us a wider range of companies to target, as they will get twice the amount of exposure from the deal!

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Ugh, I don't like this at all. I cannot stand LeBron James, he's a superstar athlete of the absolutely worst kind and I follow the NBA closely. I'm surprised a Boston based group decided it was a good idea.


Well, they have had some superstar athletes of the absolutely worst kind (I'm thinking of that snake Garnett), so I don't see why being Boston-based would make them less inclined to get into bed with LeBron.


But, as many have pointed out, it's a risk-free promotion that will probably not amount to much, but if it does it'll be good things for both parties.

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Liverpool FC's owners Fenway Sports Group say they have still to reach a deal on giving the manager's job to Kenny Dalglish on a full-time basis.


The US firm is taking a similar "wait and see" stance on whether to improve Anfield or move to a new stadium.


"The conversations are happening now with the appropriate people and the ownership," says Fenway's Sam Kennedy.


He also says sport commitments mean new Liverpool stakeholder, NBA star LeBron James, will not visit Anfield soon.


The James deal, announced earlier this week, took the sporting and business world by surprise.


It is the first time Fenway, controlled by businessmen John Henry and Tom Werner, have taken on an individual sportsman.


The US company, which owns Major League Baseball team Boston Red Sox and Fenway Racing, will now represent Mr James globally, with the Miami Heat player becoming a minority owner of Liverpool in return.


'Unique deal'


And Fenway president Sam Kennedy explained to the BBC how investment guru Warren Buffett played an unlikely role in precipitating the deal.


"LeBron James and his business partner Maverick Carter have had a personal connection with Tom Werner and John Henry since they met at a Berkshire Hathaway Conference investment conference," he says.


LeBron James had been looking for business development opportunities "Last autumn, we heard that they were looking for business development opportunities.


"They consulted Tom and John and came to us to discuss those endeavours, and that has resulted in this deal."


Despite talks starting six months ago, the deal was only completed last week.


"The fact someone like LeBron James has acquired a limited stake in a football club makes this deal unique, and also Fenway Sports Management group does not have individual athletes in its roster," adds Mr Kennedy.


"That makes it special, but it is likely to be a one-off."


'Great lift'


Mr Henry and Mr Werner became principal owners of Liverpool last October in a £300m deal.


Talks between them and Kenny Dalglish about the current caretaker manager's future began three weeks ago.


"We have a taken a wait and see approach," says Mr Kennedy.


"The conversations are happening now with the appropriate people - Ian Ayre, Damien Comolli, and the ownership.


"But I do think he [Dalglish] has provided a great lift. He is a wonderful man, he is passionate about the club."


Mr Kennedy said Fenway had been "excited about the recent appointments" of Ian Ayre as managing director, of Damien Comolli as director of football, and of Mr Dalglish.


The new owners splashed out £23m to buy Luis Suarez from Ajax Amsterdam


"It is fun to watch Liverpool," he says, adding that "we hope to get better next season".


Since the 59-year-old Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish replaced Roy Hodgson in January, he has stabilised the team and taken them to the fringe of a potential Europa League place.


Meanwhile, Fernando Torres has been sold to Chelsea for £50m, with signings Luis Suarez, for £23m, and Andy Carroll , for £35m, becoming new Kop favourites.




As well as the manager's post, the club's owners have yet to make any firm announcement on whether to stay at their Anfield home or move to a new stadium


Winning on the field comes first, and business issues come second - business supports the activities on the playing field”


End Quote Sam Kennedy Fenway Sports Group If the club does build a new arena, then it will be looking for a naming rights partner, such as Arsenal did when they moved from Highbury to the Emirates.


"We will aggressively comb the world for a potential partner, and Fenway Sports Group supports Ian Ayre in his efforts on this," says Mr Kennedy.


"I can confirm there will only be a naming rights deal if Liverpool move to a new stadium. Anfield will stay as Anfield."


He said Fenway Sports Group was constantly working on potential deals for its sports properties - Liverpool, Boston Red Sox, and Fenway Racing.


And any new potential deals could have a bearing on whether the club stays at its current location.


"What we did at [Red Sox home] Fenway Park was we increased income from our sponsorship, so we did not need to go for a naming rights deal and preserved the stadium name there," says Mr Kennedy.


'Sports impact'


On other commercial matters, he poured cold water on the idea that Liverpool might look to buy Asian players simply to maximise marketing potential in East and South East Asia.


The owners confirm that the Anfield stadium name will not change Players such as Park Ji Sung at Manchester United and Shunsuke Nakamura when he was at Celtic, helped boost those clubs' profiles in South Korea and Japan, and also in the wider region.


Club sponsors Standard Chartered had suggested this might be a route Liverpool look at going down.


"In 2007, the Red Sox signed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka out of Japan, and everyone suggested that this was being done for business reasons," says Mr Kennedy.


"But any player that we sign for the Red Sox or for Liverpool will be signed for their impact on the sports field, not business reasons.


"Winning on the field comes first, and business issues come second. Business supports the activities on the playing field."


'Learning about football'


Meanwhile, the Liverpool faithful should not expect any visit soon from new stakeholder and basketball star LeBron James.


End Quote Sam Kennedy Fenway Sports Group "He is excited about coming into a new sport and learning about Liverpool Football Club," says the Fenway president.


"He will be busy for now with the NBA, but will be rooting for Liverpool from afar.


"That means he will not be at Anfield any time soon, but he does plan to come at some time in the future though."


But football fans may be surprised by how much the 6ft 8in basketball superstar knows about the sport Americans call soccer.


"Like a lot of Americans he is still learning about the business, power and reach of football," says Mr Kennedy.


"However, he knows more about football than your average US sports fan.


"He was talking about Liverpool's 18 League Championships, and is excited to talk about Kenny Dalglish and the team he is putting together."

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their certainly talking like majority share holders, and they seem knowledgeable enough, i like the fact that they are saying "we"

Apparently LeBron will make it over for a game at the beginning of next season.

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Good move.


It is a marketing strategy which benefits us by providing greater exposure world wide. This leads to an increase in revenue which results in more profit, which allows for larger funds to investment in the team, which means we win things.


Winning things benefits us by providing greater exposure...and the whole beautiful circle goes round again. Like a basketball hoop.


Plus, this a clear signal of FSG's intention to grow the club on a truly global scale.


The potential is there and we may now finally be in the hands of people capable (and willing) to tap into it.

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Guest ShoePiss
It's weird. But it's not as if he's going to be making boardroom decisions.


I do fully anticipate him to be paraded around Anfield, I also fully anticipate adverts where he's playing for Liverpool FC. Donning the shirt, heck even some role reversal with Gerrard playing in the NBA.


It's about exposure, it's about money. I already want to see who this guy is, and I'm pretty sure some fans of his, and his team want to see who we are.


Incidentally this man is my boss now.



stop sniffing petrol.

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Lebron James’ value to Liverpool? Up to $1m per minute in US TV advert spend


Lebron James’ partial ownership of Liverpool and his related commercial tie-in is already paying dividends for the Merseyside team – boosting their brand with effective TV advertising time that could be worth $1m per minute Stateside.


On May Day, millions of basketball fans world-wide watched as the NBA’s prime-time favorites, the Miami Heat, won the first game of the Eastern Conference semi-finals over the Boston Celtics.


The series is a dream match-up for the NBA – the two teams attracted record viewership for the 2010-2011 season opener. This followed the summer of the ‘great migration’ spawned by a ratings success in its own right, ‘The Decision’. James’ polarizing ESPN TV special announcing his move to Miami was greeted by an uproarious crowd response of boos and cheers alike.


But it wasn’t the Heat’s home win to open this second-round play-off series that caught the attention of Scousers the world over. It was the unique post-game garb Lebron donned following the win. Shedding his typical preppy casual appearance, he filled out an Adidas–free Andy Carroll kit (Nike is one of James’ primary sponsors) sitting at the press conference table fielding questions from the media on the Heat’s solid start.


When an American reporter questioned James’ choice of outfit, he showed pride in his team’s win over Newcastle on Sunday. “I am following them from a distance,” he said. “Hopefully I can get out there and catch a game, but right now, this is the only game I’m thinking about.”


His humble affection for the Reds showed a glare of charm, but the smirk on James’ face told a different story. The realization gradually dawned on America that it had just witnessed an advertisement - integrated marketing at its finest – with a brilliant set-up by the reporter playing the pawn.


Showing public support for King Kenny’s men, King James decision to wear No9 - the jersey of the most prominent player acquisition for the club at the death of this year’s transfer deadline – would’ve raised more eyebrows if it weren’t for last month’s announcement that the two-time NBA MVP had purchased a share of Liverpool FC.


LFC owner John Henry’s decision to bring James on board as a minority owner was far from an ill-advised decision because the commercial has only just begun. The exposure a brand such as Liverpool FC received during this press conference and the subsequent replays on sports networks, media channels, and across the football-loving blogosphere is difficult to estimate accurately.


Twelve minutes of national television coverage during the play-offs doesn’t come cheap, but just imagine the worth of this type of endorsement if the Heat make it into the NBA finals.


Thirty seconds of NBA finals airtime cost advertisers $400,000 in 2010. Add in the endorsement from a current player of James’ stature, and the value logically exceeds half a million dollars for 30 seconds, $1m per minute.


That in a nutshell is the value to Liverpool of Lebron’s association: potentially $1m of ad TV advertising time exposure for a club that might (would) otherwise struggle to make an impact on the US sporting public.


It’s clear that Henry’s return on investment depends on James’ ability to navigate conflicting interests, and there was no better motivator than bringing James on as an investor.


James’ stake in the eighth most lucrative football franchise in the world was a key concession in this landmark marketing partnership in which Fenway Sports Group owners John Henry and Tom Werner broke from their business tradition of inking marketing deals for the organizations they own such as the Red Sox to sign a deal with an individual person.


Not just any individual person, but a 26 year-old athletic phenom who is fast becoming more brand than man.


Following the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Lebron holds court as the 2nd most popular athlete in the billion-customer country of China (2nd only to Kobe Bryant).


In fact, the value of James’ play on the court – siphoning $15.8 million a year from the Heat – stands at roughly half of his value in sponsorships estimated at $30 million a year.


Since the Reds happen to be the most popular club in this highly-coveted market, Lebron’s investment in Liverpool is another way to gain market share in China while preparing for the next epic commercial event, the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.


Could we see a repeat of Michael Jordan’s ‘dream team’ fiasco? MJ stood on the gold medal stand at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona draped in the American flag not as a symbol of patriotic fervor, but rather catalyzed by the need to serve the brand. He covered the Reebok logo to keep the Nike execs content.


After James cashed in on England’s Bank Holiday to promote a club more than 5,000 miles away, expectations are set higher for him, although clearly not in terms of ethical fortitude. Rather, it will be interesting to see how he approaches the next 15 months in preparation for a golden opportunity to grow the Liverpool brand.


While in residence on British soil?Could the summer of London become the summer of Lebron?

Lebron James’ value to Liverpool? Up to $1m per minute in US TV advert spend « Sporting Intelligence

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