Arsenal could desperately use an official Asian feeder club. The benefits are obvious, even to someone who doesn’t understand businesses. Asian feeder clubs are to be the future of English, and maybe even European, football.
Obviously, there are different types of feeder clubs. Some take players on loan until they are granted a work permit or just to give younger players experience. Others directly help the club in transfers by giving first-option clauses on their players to the parent club. Some are associated just to help financial growth through merchandising, with the parent club usually playing a match at the feeder club’s home ground each pre-season.
There are huge benefits in all of these types of feeder club. Arsenal would be able to utilise any of the three stated above and maximise their potential as a club. The first option, to take players on loan can be beneficial to player and club.
Young players can gain experience against top players who are starting to move there and they can also experience first team action more regularly. The work permit problem that some Asian players may have is also covered by this, and it means that Arsene Wenger will not have to lose out on a player due to work permit problems. This way, he can sign the player and loan him for one, maybe two, seasons until conditions for a work permit are met.
Furthermore, the older players on Arsenal’s books, who may be wishing to move on, can be loaned to these Chinese clubs to put them in the shop window. If the player can impress in a league that isn’t yet of a high quality, Arsenal may start receiving bids for players that they can’t sell to European teams. The chance to earn a big money move to China may appeal to some players too, so they may welcome the loan.
The second type of feeder club, with the first option clause, would be the most intelligent type to seek out. The amount of world-class Asian players produced each year isn’t that high, however it takes just a couple to turn Arsenal from Champions League chasers to title challengers. Asia is a massively untapped resource in football. The amount of high-quality footballers produced is so low because there is not too much interest over there yet, in terms of professional leagues in each country. Obviously, China is starting to evolve as it pours more money into football and others may soon follow suit.
An influx in high-quality players could be the outcome of one or two top European teams having a solid link with certain teams. It gives more Asian footballers an incentive to do well, with the knowledge that you may be the next export to Europe.
The third type of feeder club, the merchandising partnership, could benefit Arsenal too. Arsenal is really missing out on a huge financial gap in the market that Manchester United has hogged for so long. The pre-season match against Manchester City, hosted in China, was a start, and both teams are now realising the potential that this massive continent has for the top European clubs.
If Arsenal could take even 10% of Manchester United’s market share in Asia, it would give Arsenal some serious financial strength and also cripple their rivals slightly too. It is no secret that Manchester United’s Asian links have contributed to their success over the years, from finances, support, and players.
The Gunners can’t be too slow to make their move as this opportunity won’t stay around forever. The football leagues across Asia are starting to improve and, in a few years time, the top producers will have earned enough renown to have been contacted by other top European clubs. These clubs may not wish to enter into formal links before the league has grown and produced more talent, but this is when Arsenal are most likely to get their first-choice of clubs.
The chances of a Chinese club accepting any proposal is very high. Many of them would do anything for a chance to associate with Arsenal as the club has a history and is amongst the top in Europe, both things that appeal in the Asian market. This would then cause more people to support that club, knowing their heroes may play for the famous Arsenal.