by Cole Pepper
There are reports that Jaguars owner Shahid Khan will buy a soccer team, Fulham of the English Premier League.
If this happens, what will it mean for Jacksonville?
For starters, there will be (and have already been) those who aren’t informed who will say that this, coupled with the Jaguars playing a game in London each of the next four years means the Jaguars will be moving to London. That is very much NOT what this means.
For the Jaguars, this means that Khan’s interest in owning as much of the London market as possible is now expanded. This should help the Jaguars become more of an international brand. How? Think of it this way. How many Londoners knew of the Jaguars before Khan’s purchase. How many know of them now? And how many will know of the Jaguars after four games in London? Graph those numbers and it looks like a hockey stick.
Now consider Fulham. How many people in Jacksonville knew of Fulham before yesterday? How many Jaguars fans will decide that Fullham is “their” soccer team to root for in the English Premier League? There are so many cross-promotional opportunities. A double header of an NFL game followed by a Fulham friendly, for instance. As a note, the Premier League schedule runs from August to May.
How about some cross-over for Fulham? Fulham plays at Southampton the day before the Jaguars play the 49ers in London. Think that could be a hot ticket?
This could help in sponsorship for both teams as well. Jaguars president Mark Lamping has said repeatedly that increasing local revenue (not money from league agreements) is his top priority. The Jaguars/Fulham cooperative could access a huge number of sponsors for each team that previously, they could not reach. Granted, this will demand fair cooperation between the “boots on the ground” in the sponsorship departments of both, but when Khan says “do it,” it usually happens.
This move can also provide a serious boost for the push for pro soccer in Jacksonville. There is a push to get either a North American Soccer League (NASL) team or a United Soccer League (USL) team. Those would be potential stepping stones to an MLS team in Jacksonville. Having Khan involved in soccer, even in name, raises Jacksonville’s prestige as a soccer city.
There are so many ways to leverage the dual ownership, especially in a city gaining major momentum for soccer, that if Khan does indeed purchase Fulham, it might be one of the more significant business moves of the year for Jacksonville.