Enter Henry: What Does it Mean?

Perhaps the worst keep secret in American soccer circles is the imminent arrival of Thierry Henry to the New York Red Bulls.  The all time leading French national team scorer, Henry is a gifted player and a recognizable name.  The question for the Red Bulls and MLS, is what his signing will mean for the team and league. In the first year in their new stadium with attendance solid, but underwhelming, Henry may provide the boost needed to fill Red Arena and drive New York’s soccer team to a championship.  It has long been accepted wisdom that a successful New York franchise is one of the keys to a successful MLS (although listening to sports radio in New York would suggest otherwise).

We think that there will be a marked increase in road attendance with Henry in the league for matches in which Henry plays.  MLS teams will likely market Henry much as they marketed Beckham. .  He is a recognizable star to most soccer fans and with each MLS team getting only one visit from the Red Bulls per year, he will be a major attraction.  He may also become attractive to sponsors in the United States (he already has a relationship with Gillette). It will be interesting to see how Henry’s image is used by league sponsors to market their products.  Will he become a household name to mainstream sports fans?   This is an exciting time for the league and one that will provide an array of fascinating business issues over the next few months.

The new DP rules represent a turning point in MLS.  Teams can now take bigger gambles, with bigger players and bigger dollars.  Over the next few weeks a number of “big name” players will enter the league, raising the level of play and the profile of MLS.  Henry is the start, and we think, an important piece of the MLS puzzle.

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One Response

  1. It is tricky indeed to keep sponsors happy when your career is ending although by going to a new territory will revive your athlete life completely!

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