On December 7th, Newcastle United F.C. announced it had agreed to a strategic collaboration with the esports brand VOV, a subsidiary of Savvy Gaming Group. This deal will see VOV help Newcastle expand its esports presence while the two sides work to engage more with Saudi Arabian gamers.
“Working with VOV will allow us to engage with Newcastle United fans via the popularity of esports and gaming in Saudi Arabia,” said Peter Silverstone, Newcastle United’s Chief Commercial Officer. “Our collaboration with VOV will provide an exciting platform for our fans to engage with. VOV will also lend their knowledge and expertise to the club in Saudi Arabia where we continue to expand the club’s fan base as one of the country’s most supported Premier League football clubs. Saudi Arabia has a young, digitally engaged population and our collaboration with VOV will enhance our efforts to reach this important audience.”
More information regarding this partnership and upcoming collaborations will be announced in the coming weeks and months.
This is not the first time Newcastle has worked with a company that is backed by the Saudi Arabian PIF (Public Investment Fund). Over the last six months, the British soccer team has partnered with the airline Saudia as well as the e-commerce platform Noon.
The Profit‘s Take:
This is interesting even though I have never heard of Newcastle United before. Maybe I’m the wrong audience for this, but this feels like a very small name for VOV. When I heard this, it made me think “Microsoft partners with Joe’s Pizza’s Little League team.” I’m exaggerating to make a point, but that’s the vibe I got from this deal. Maybe I’m not a big enough soccer fan, but this seems lopsided. If you’re spending $38 billion, why are you going for the 12th “most recognizable” soccer team in the world? Shouldn’t you go after number one or two? FIFA is HUGE in Saudi Arabia, so the soccer connection makes sense. But, the reality is, in the United States, there have been MANY missteps by pro sports teams when it comes to esports collaborations. This feels like something out of 2019’s esports playbook. On paper, this seems obvious. But, more often than not, these types of deals have failed. I view this as a misstep.