<big>‘Soccer is boring’: why high-rise Harry puts his money into league</big>
HARRY TRIGUBOFF, one of Australia’s richest men and the Wests Tigers’ major sponsor, will never funnel any of his billions into football because ‘‘soccer is boring’’.
The Tigers have surged into third among rugby league teams in the annual list of most valuable football clubs in Australia and just missed out on a berth in the overall top 10.
Triguboff aired his view as supporters of the A-League hailed the recruitments of Socceroo pair Brett Emerton and Harry Kewell as a masterstroke that would ensure the competition gained unseen levels of corporate and media support. Triguboff - who as boss of property group Meriton has poured $1 million this season into the Wests Tigers on top of the money he ploughed into the club since he became a Balmain supporter many years ago - said nothing could entice him to invest in football.
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‘‘I think soccer is boring,’’ he told The Sun-Herald. ‘‘I look at it all day and [the players] pretend to get hurt, they get a penalty and maybe - somehow - they score. In league, the players are always on the go. I can see the flow of the game; it’s exciting to watch. I am sure soccer is skilful, but it is slow.’’
Triguboff, 78, said he was constantly amazed by the ability of rugby league players to back up from pummellings. He revealed part of the appeal in his being a sponsor stemmed from a deep admiration for the courage players needed to display.
‘‘They have guts; that’s very important,’’ he said. ‘‘To stand up to all the people against me in business is courageous; sometimes more courageous than clever. Guts is important in life, and they have it. I like that.’’
While he is an astute businessman, Triguboff said proof his support for the Tigers came from the heart was that he actually doubted it encouraged sales of his apartments.
‘‘It depends what business you’re in,’’ he said of the benefits of sponsorship. ''I don’t think that in my business, where I mostly sell to Chinese, it helps me a lot. We have to convert them [to league]. But generally, in public, it is very important because people come up to me and talk about the team. If the team is going good, they are happy. If the team is going bad, they ask what I can do about it?
‘‘It’s as though I am running the team. I’m very happy I can talk to [supporters]. They are very happy with my knowledge of rugby league. I have got to know other teams, so I can talk to them on their level. I like it.’’
Repucom International, a brand analysis specialist, estimated that through their sponsorships of the Wests Tigers, Meriton and motor vehicle manufacturer Hyundai had enjoyed at the halfway point of the season $2.15 million worth of exposure via match footage, television news reports, coverage in metropolitan newspapers and ‘‘peripheral’’ avenues, such as online media. It was the most by an NRL or AFL club in an apples-for-apples comparison, and the figure was expected to increase dramatically as a result of the Tigers’ charge into the finals.
‘‘This is a glowing endorsement of our brand,’’ said Brett Clarke, the club’s general manager of sales and marketing. ‘‘There’s no doubt the best model for sponsorship is retention and not acquisition.’’
The Tigers have invested a lot of time in designing this year’s jumper so the sponsors would be prominently displayed. Last-minute adjustments to ensure the sponsor’s happiness meant a delay in stocking this year’s design.
‘‘We designed ours with the sponsors at the forefront of our thinking. > We positioned Meriton higher on the chest so it won’t be lost in the fold-over, > Hyundai received a black panel to ensure their brand wasn’t lost in a mish-mash of colours. We weren’t happy with the first batch of jumpers, and while the redesign meant delays in getting it into shops, this year’s jumper has been our fastest-ever seller,’’ Clarke said.
Tigers players have been told not to fold their arms for photo shoots to ensure their sponsors get invaluable exposure.
Wests Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys said any company that sponsored a sporting team made their objectives and expectations clear from the outset.
‘‘Clubs are under a scrutiny,’’ he said. ‘‘And that’s good for everyone. It means we’re under a clear understanding of what we are trying to achieve for one another and that leads to good business practice.’’
Triguboff, who joked the more the Tigers won the more he shelled out, insisted his expectation had not changed since he ‘‘signed on’’ again at the end of last year. ‘‘Win,’’ he said. ‘‘I expect them to win.’’
I often see this ‘‘fold over’’ during games obscuring logos, some clubs spoonsors cop it really bad…im surprised it hasne been adressed more than it should, glad we have though.