Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Tottenham Need to Think Global; 2012 Olympics Guru Mills out to Mastermind Club's Plans for a Bigger Home and an Increased World Fan Base

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Tottenham Need to Think Global; 2012 Olympics Guru Mills out to Mastermind Club's Plans for a Bigger Home and an Increased World Fan Base

Article excerpt

Byline: ADRIAN WARNER

WHEN looking to transform the fortunes of a football club it's a sound move to turn to a man who came up with one of the most creative business ideas of our time before pulling off Britain's biggest sporting coup.

Sir Keith Mills, the creator of Air Miles and Nectar loyalty cards, and a central figure in bringing the 2012 Olympics to London, is now making his considerable business acumen available to Tottenham.

The 56-year-old's recent appointment as a non-executive director could turn out to be one of Tottenham's most significant signings as they bid to catch up with Arsenal and Chelsea in London football's battle of the brands.

The biggest challenge facing the trio, and all Premiership clubs, over the next decade is to increase their worldwide fan base to cash in on the expanding market of international TV and media rights.

It won't be long before billions of Chinese and Koreans are demanding regular news and pictures of Premiership action on their mobile phones and the results could be extremely lucrative for clubs with the right positioning.

Chelsea's decision this week to launch a Mandarin website is aimed at exploiting that market in their campaign to become "London's premier club" around the world.

Tottenham are slipping behind if the figures provided by each club as an estimate for their worldwide supporterbase are to be believed. Spurs claim to have 4.3million fans compared to Arsenal's estimate of 30m and Chelsea's of 20m.

Mills will advise the club on improving those figures dramatically through better international marketing and online ticket schemes.

But as he sits in London 2012's top-floor offices in Canary Wharf with a spectacular view across the capital, it is not long before he switches the conversation from business innovation to the practical-problems of playing their home games at White Hart Lane. He said: "I hope to help build the club both domestically and internationally. Spurs have big potential. Look, there are 30,000 fans on the waiting list for season tickets.

There are pockets of interest internationally but clearly we do have to have an international footprint and the big clubs all aspire to have a fan base outside the United Kingdom.

"Tottenham need, however, to improve the capacity of the stadium. To reach their aspirations they have to have something-north of 50,000 seats. It is whether they stay where there are and develop - or find somewhere else and move. In the next five years Spurs have to look at these stadium options."

Standard Sport's analysis of the present commercial form of London's top three clubs shows why Tottenham are so keen to use Mills's knowledge.

With a ground capacity of 36,237 compared to Arsenal's 60,000 at Emirates, the north Londoners are losing out on crucial match-day income - despite having 30,000 people chasing season tickets. …

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