Their club has just struck a deal with Creative Artists Agency, the most powerful talent agency in Hollywood, which will set up highly lucrative sponsorship and marketing deals for Chelsea’s finest in the US and other international markets. The deal will also cover branding, tours and stadium development.
And how might this ensure that Chelsea retains the services of its stars? Well, while we’re not suggesting that the typical, sensible, modern footballer’s head could ever be turned by huge amounts of money – look at Manchester United’s Ronaldo for example – we do think that it just might be turned by the chance to rub shoulders with the celebrity elite.
CAA already represents the likes of George Clooney, Tom Cruise, and Brad Pitt. And if you read last week’s MT story about footballers and film company directorships, you’ll remember that players are drawn to the movie business like pigs to truffles.
But it’s a development that will surely annoy football purists, who no doubt will see this as another unwelcome sign of how the vacuum of celebrity is polluting what was once a ‘man’s game’.
CAA is better-known in the US, where it is the dominant player handling US sporting talent. Readers might remember the agency for its role in the highly-publicised transfer deal which moved David Beckham from European football heavyweight Real Madrid to American ‘soccer’ paperweight LA Galaxy. It has gone on to sign several deals for Golden Balls Beckham, and also handled the transfer from Arsenal to West Ham of underpants-advertising Freddie Ljunberg. The lucrative endorsements it struck for Barcelona’s Brazilian midfielder Ronaldinho led to toothy grins all round.
We’re a little concerned that this deal might lead to division within the Chelsea camp, as it’ll obviously be easier to market some Chelsea players in the US than others. Without wishing to be mean-spirited, marketing the impish Frank Lampard, a man with his own mobile TV channel, Frank TV, will be a simpler task than selling hard-faced John Terry, who has all the personal glamour of a bus driver (can you see him at the Oscars?). On the other hand, Didier Drogba, famed for his on-field acting abilities, is probably ripe for diving as soon as he gets on to the red carpet.