There are some in the media who hope that the “snubbing” of our Japanese players will reduce the level of interest in our club in that part of the world. Imagine that. That interest has brought benefits to Scottish football. They would rather it disappeared.
But their hopes are in vain. Even without Hatate and Kyogo being in the team, they were the talk of the Japanese media in the run up to the international fixtures. The Kirin Challenge Cup as it is known this year has seen their side play two games; they drew one and lost the other. Although their national coach is sticking to his guns, fans aren’t happy.
Now we’re being talked about in South Korea as well, as their new star talks the club up and shines on the national stage. We would be mad if we didn’t go back there in the summer and try and scoop up his countryman Cho Gue Sung. Even if we fail, it will show that our interest in their markets weren’t a one off. That will increase our profile.
Nobody excepts us to “conquer” the markets in these countries. There are players from South Korea and Japan playing in Big Five leagues for huge clubs. But we’re on the radar over there now and we are becoming known for our Asian contingent.
And this is not like days gone by, when we tried to break into that market by signing the likes of Cha Du Rei and Du Wei and Kiki Mizuno. The players we are signing now are players with profile over there, players who are doing the job for us on the pitch.
These aren’t wild punts designed to give us a brief uptick in the local media. These guys are over here making a difference. Next season they will play in the Champions League. That’s big. That’s huge. That opens the door for us more than a crack.
We should be putting our shoulder to that door and barging our way in. A tour of the Far East for the summer, Korea and Japan both. Arrange games against their biggest teams. Take the trophies over there and let the locals see what their countrymen won.
Bend the ears of the sponsors. Take shedloads of kit over there and invite the schools to the games and hand out tons of merchandise for free. Grab this by the throat. Make a pitch that nobody over there can ignore. The EPL clubs think they have the monopoly on the market … to challenge that you need to think outside the box, and we should.
The summer will be the perfect time to strike.
We have a major opportunity here and I am sure that the commercial department knows it full well and does not intend to let it pass us by. Adidas must see the possibilities too, and should be helping us out.
More than anything else, Ange and the team are what really sells this.
The exciting football we play should be put on show against their best. It would be good to do that especially without European qualifiers to play. A test … and a lucrative opportunity rolled up with it.