When Manchester United and the New York Yankees announced a joint marketing deal earlier this year, heads were scratched on both sides of the pond. What were the Red Devils up to, and what would baseball's top team gain by getting into bed with players of a game the US regards as fit only for women and kids? Mark Lasswell reports from New York
Like many visitors to the Red Cafe in Singapore, John Krimsky was amazed by Manchester United's Far Eastern outpost. 'It takes up half a city block - it's magnificent,' Krimsky says of the complex, a sort of Planet MUFC theme restaurant and bar, complete with United museum, two-storey gift shop and possibly the world's largest gathering of flat-screen televisions. But unlike almost any other visitor to Singapore's Red Cafe, Krimsky sniffed over the place and had one thought: baseball.
More specifically, Krimsky envisaged New York Yankees baseball - Yankees' games on the Red Cafe's TV screens during America's Major League Baseball playoffs, and their NY logo on merchandise hawked in the gift shop, presumably to many of Singapore's 25,000 American residents. Krimsky is president of YankeeNets Properties, marketing chief at YankeeNets and a moving force on the US side of the marketing deal announced earlier this year that links two of professional sport's great behemoths, United and the Yankees. YankeeNets also owns the New Jersey Nets (basketball) and Devils (hockey). Krimsky worked out a deal with United and its partner in the region, FJ Benjamin, that would allow Red Cafe patrons to watch the pounds 12 million-a-year Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter on TV while wolfing down the restaurant's Man U FC fish and chips.