When Sheffield FC were formed way back in 1857, they became the first football club to be independent from any school, hospital or other organisation. Other teams soon followed with Notts County being the oldest remaining professional club. These clubs made up from the fabric of communities, towns and such, run by families, businessmen, volunteers to name just a few, but all run with a committee type set up.
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This model of football club has existed since records began until the last twenty years. The crash of digital TV back in the mid to late 90’s ruined teams who had already spent TV money which never came. Cue administrations, winding up orders, points deductions, transfer embargo’s and strongly worded letters from the Inland Revenue! Now we see clubs being bought by money from overseas. Owners from all over the globe ploughing their hard earned Dollars, Rubies and Euros into the coffers. For the not so glamorous clubs, fan groups are taking over. Membership schemes which promise the member a vote. So what about franchise based clubs and, in particular, Red Bull?
Now Red Bull (who from now I shall call RB) boast a massive portfolio of sporting franchises. Rally, BMX, Diving, Formula 1 and now seemingly football. In early November the press were reporting that RB were interested in buying West Ham United in a deal set to be worth around £200 million. So would a franchise be such a bad thing? RB currently have four clubs around the world. Let’s have a look at the clubs.
Red Bull Brasil – Formed by RB in 2007 in the fifth division in Brazil. In ten years have achieved two promotions and two championship winning seasons. The team sit currently in the Campeonato Serie A2, the division below Brazils top league.
New York Red Bulls- Founded in 1995 as New York MetroStars and with only the one MLS Eastern Conference Regular Season winner’s trophy to fill their cabinet, RB brought out the club in 2006 and went about changing their fortunes. Their honours since have included Eastern Conference Regular 2010, Play off Winners 2008, Atlantic Cup 2009, 2010, MLS Cup Runners up 2008 and Supporters shield for best overall season record 2013, 2015. Recent players have included Thierry Henry, Wright-Phillips brothers, Dani Rodriguez and Rafael Marquez.
Red Bull Salzburg- The first of the franchise teams. Formerly SV Austria Salzburg and based just down the road from RB headquarters, their finances were a real mess. In stepped RB. Salzburg were founded in 1933 and had limited success in the Austrian Bundesliga. Three title wins in the mid 90’s and a Uefa Cup final defeat was all the club could boast in over 60 years. Since 2005 though the club would no doubt of had to build a bigger trophy cabinet. In the eleven years that RB have owed the club, six have been as champions and the other five as runner up! Impressive to say the least.
RB Leipzig- German law on advertising means that RB literally have to be called that. Due to the regulations of the DFB the name Red Bull Leipzig for marketing reasons was forbidden so they were called RB (short for RasenBallsport). Also the logo was forbidden. But this club seem to be the jewel in the RB crown. A fifth division team in 2009 (formerly SSV Markranstädt) they set about climbing through the divisions and with four promotions in seven seasons, they now sit second in the Bundesliga, just three points behind Bayern Munich at the time of writing. Having been tipped for relegation, they are again yet proving the doubters of the model wrong.
So can it work in England? The statistics show that it’s definitely more fruitful being owned by the energy drinks giant. We all know that stats don’t always win you games/titles, but Red Bull gives you wings, so who knows?