As it gets ready to start work on its new £500m stadium, Everton FC has unveiled a six pillar strategy to capitalise on its growing global fanbase. Tony McDonough reports
Everton Football Club will launch a soccer school programme across 15 US states this summer as it reveals the next stage of its international growth strategy.
As it gets ready to start work on its new £500m stadium in Liverpool’s northern docklands, Everton is looking capitalise on its global fanbase by unveiling a six-pillar international strategy.
This new strategy comes as the club sets up a new international team supported by Jurgen Mainka, former Concacaf Deputy General Secretary and chief commercial officer, to further develop the club’s presence across North America.
Mr Mainka and his team at Miami-based Pulse Sport and Entertainment, which will include a dedicated brand and business development manager for Everton, will act as an extension of the club’s UK-based international team and provide an on-the-ground presence across North America.
He has held senior positions at four Major League Soccer clubs, having worked in the game for more than 25 years. At Concacaf he played a key role in the organisation of the Copa America 100th anniversary tournament, held in the US in 2016.
Everton’s six-pillar international strategy comprises fanbase growth, strategic partnership, brand and business development and the launch of an international academy – while continuing retail expansion and international pre-season tour plans for the first team, Everton Women and under-23s.
The club has delivered a series of activations and digital engagements in North and South America with activity planned for Australasia, the Far East and the Middle East – as the expansion continues despite the impact of the international COVID-19 pandemic.
It will launch a new International Soccer Schools programme (EISS), which will run alongside the recently established Everton International Academy Affiliate programme (EIAAP). The two initiatives will be accessed using a new Everton International Academy web platform.
EISS will begin with a series of soccer camps across 15 states in the Midwest and Northeast regions of the US over the next four months, with plans to expand to other target countries.
The activity will be led and shaped by Everton coaches, and supported and delivered by US-based Community Athletic Solutions (CAS) – the first stage in a plan to develop the programme across the whole country in the coming years.
This weekend (Saturday, April 17) Everton’s Fan Engagement and International departments will stage the first ever virtual event specifically for US fans. EvertonUSA Live – developed in conjunction with the US-affiliated supporters’ club network – will allow US Evertonians to get closer to their club through the day-long virtual fan festival.
Attendees to the online day of activity will hear from players and coaching staff and have the chance to connect with players from Everton’s past including current Everton Ambassador in the US Tim Howard – as well as having the opportunity to ask key figures from across the club, such as director of football, Marcel Brands, questions.
Streamed live across the club’s official social media platforms, the event will be the first of its kind for North American fans. This creative and collaborative approach to fan engagement is a focal point of Everton’s digital engagement strategy.
As a result, the US audience for the official Everton YouTube channel has increased by 743% in four seasons – and there has been a 54% increase in official US account followers on Instagram and a 35.7% increase in official US account followers on twitter.
Ahead of starting his new role, Jurgen Mainka said: “Everton is a unique club and has a strong familial bond with its fans. It has an illustrious history and an exciting future, with a new state-of-the-art waterfront stadium on the way, and I am proud to be part of telling the Everton story across the Americas.
“Building a deep connection with soccer fans across the US is a key part of Everton’s strategy and while the club’s US base will be in Miami, we’ll also be keen to meet fans and prospective partners where they are.”
Everton made significant inroads in Colombia and the US as well as the UK in September 2020, when they announced the signing of Colombian superstar James Rodriguez. The announcement featured on Bogota’s tallest building – the Colpatria Tower – billboards at New York’s Times Square, and on an advertising vessel that sailed through Miami Beach.
External PR and media coverage of James Rodriguez’s signing and surrounding activity generated 500m+ global views and a 433% increase in online traffic to the club’s website.
As well as James Rodriguez, Colombia’s Yerry Mina, Brazil’s Copa America winner Richarlison and fellow Brazilians Bernard and Allan are helping Everton build its profile in the Americas.
Richard Kenyon, director of marketing, communications and international at Everton, said: “We have invested significant time and effort over the last two years researching and devising a long-term international strategy and, despite the ongoing challenges brought about by the pandemic, it has been great to get this underway and to take these steps forward over the last few months.
“North America is one of our key target territories and we are pleased to have reached an agreement to work with Jurgen Mainka who – along with other colleagues working in Miami – will be working with us to secure strategic partnerships and develop associated opportunities.”