Malaga and Clint Dempsey – A Mutually Beneficial Partnership

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Since 1990, youth soccer participation in America has doubled, according to the New York Times. Due to the availability of matches on tv, many of these youngsters are maturing into football fans. However, they are supporting the bigger clubs, like Barcelona and Manchester United.

Hardly any attention is being paid to the other 18 clubs in La Liga. Americans choose a club to support based on superficial reasons: whether they have nice looking uniforms, if they win trophies, if they have a star player or are they fun to play as on Fifa 12.

Consequently, the allegiance to their club tends to resemble a long term contract in football. The agreement might be binding but more often than not it was not meant to be a long term commitment.
However, the patriotic sentiment in American culture yields a broad and passionate fan base around the national team. Websites like Yanksabroad cover every American player plying their trade overseas. Twitter buzzes when one of the boys scores a goal.

Even the mainstream sports programs cover the national team during the important matches. After the u23 Olympic squad crashed out in the qualifying rounds last month the media and supporters were questioning the direction of soccer in the country. This was all for a tournament that most football loving nations pay no attention to.

With all this considered, “la otra Liga” could register with the American soccer conscious by bringing the best American player to Malaga. The Anchovies currently are tied for third spot after spending €60 million last summer. Yet, they are severely lacking goal scorers. The leading scorer in the league for Malaga is Jose Salomon Rondon with nine goals in 34 appearances.

With Julio Baptista struggling to recover from a leg injury and Ruud van Nistelrooy possibly leaving the club in the summer, Dempsey could help fill this void. He has proven he can bulge the back of the net having tallied 22 goals in 45 appearances this season.

While not being an out and out striker, Dempsey typically plays as a withdrawn forward and can also play on either flank. At Fulham, he has linked up well with Moussa Dembele, Damien Duff and Bryan Ruiz, three attacking players who are comfortably making runs and interchanging positions across the midfield.

This system could be similar at Malaga with the likes of Santi Cazorla, Isco and Joaoquin. Furthermore, Dempsey has stated that he wants to play for a club in the Champions League and the Malaga project should intrigue him. Simon Kuper wrote in Soccernomics that purchasing an aging player or someone coming off a career best season would be unwise. So, shelling out €7-10 million for a 29 year old who has one year left on his contract would be a financial risk.

On the other hand, the club could recoup some of this fee from the commercial side. They could sell Dempsey 8 shirts in American stores and offer travel packages to people who want to see good football and enjoy the beautiful Andalusian beaches. The amount of attention and coverage Malaga would receive from the US soccer media could convert casual soccer fans into future Malaga supporters. Also, Dempsey and Malaga each have Nike sponsorship deals which could help facilitate a move.

With three to five La Liga matches available in the US each weekend, the league needs to find a way to attract soccer fans. Most Americans will only watch if one of the big two are playing and clubs should try creative ways to get their name out and give Americans a reason to support their club. So, If Malaga are striving to expand their brand name and achieve success on the pitch, purchasing Clint Dempsey this summer could potentially help tick both of these boxes




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5 Responses to “Malaga and Clint Dempsey – A Mutually Beneficial Partnership”

  1. jonk
    1 May, 2012 at 18:16 #

    While it’s certainly true that American fans of Clint would instantly support Malaga if he were playing for them, unless they turn into a perennial power it’s unlikely that support would last longer than his contract.
    I assume the same goes for Fulham if he leaves. The handful of American players that have suited up for Fulham over the past 8 years combined with the magical Europa cup run has likely earned Fulham a ton of American fans, including myself. If there aren’t any more yanks on the roster, I’ll continue to casually root for them, but I’m certainly not going to be spending money on Fulham gear.

    • JMP
      2 May, 2012 at 01:14 #

      Great point about American fans supporting Fulham in the future, my guess is most will stop following them.

      Basically, purchasing Dempsey would bring interest not only to Malaga but to the rest of La Liga and I hope more US fans would follow the league. Also, I was assuming this Malaga project is in the primal stages and the new owners have a long term success plan to make the club a top team in Spain

  2. Heath Chesters
    1 May, 2012 at 23:26 #

    Interestingly, I’ve spoken to a fair amount of American fans, following the progress of “little” Granada.

    I remember reading an article last year, on an American soccer website, which compared Granada CF to the Oakland A’s and the Brad Pitt film Moneyball, because of how Granada have followed the “Udinese model”, investing in players who perhaps wouldn’t be considered worthy of the La Liga, but are there nonetheless.

    I think there’s a fair portion of American soccer fans, who not only follow the “big” clubs in Europe, but like to follow the fortunes of the “small” clubs, punching above their weight and achieving something from nothing.

    • JMP
      2 May, 2012 at 01:10 #

      I was stereotyping and speaking in general terms about the American fan typically supporting the big teams.

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