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Rebranding the Football League
By: Bill Osborne
The Football League has announced that they are to be re-branded. The purpose being to boost the popularity of league football and to increase its profile.
One of the major changes will be the renaming of the first division with one suggestion being "the Football League Championship"
The changes will take effect during the autumn as the league attempt to market their 72 clubs as an attractive and more competitive alternative to the super-rich Premiership.
The league have hired advertising agency TBWA - who helped to reinvent clothing firm French Connection using the FCUK logo - to conduct a major 'brand revitalisation exercise' on their behalf.
It is hoped that the rebranding will increase the profile of the Football League and narrow the gap in money, exposure and popularity between their members, especially in the First Division, and the 20 top-flight clubs in the Premier League.
The Second and Third Divisions restyling may become the new First and Second Divisions.
Although crowds and television audiences for Football League matches have been rising steadily, there is a growing tendency for young people to support Premiership clubs that may be many miles away rather than their local First, Second or Third Division side.
First Division clubs have long campaigned for more autonomy to help it to boost commercial revenue for its 24 members.
Stewart Regan, an executive with brewing firm Coors, has been hired to the new post of First Division director, with a brief to increase the profile and revenue of clubs who will become the flagship of a revamped Football League.
Richard Masters, the League's commercial director, told Observer Sport; "This is all about refreshing and strengthening people's perceptions of the Football League, which are already excellent, rather than trying to pretend that the League is something it isn't. We want greater control over our own destiny, a greater distinction of what the League stands for and greater recruitment and retention of supporters."
"This is a very important long-term exercise as it's our opportunity to enhance people's perceptions of the Football League and its competitions for the seasons ahead. Our aim is to establish an identity which reinforces the many positive perceptions football supporters hold about the League and also excites and entices the supporters of the future to our clubs."
The League chairmen will meet on 29 April to debate a whole series of revamps proposed by TBWA, who are busy developing their plans. Final decisions will be taken at the chairmen's annual summer meeting in June and changes implemented by the start of the new season in August. The profile of the play-off finals will be increased, especially the one for a place in the Premiership. END
Billo says: Although this is an excellent move by the Football League to increase their profile and harness modern marketing methods and tools, one would hope that the changes do not inadvertently create a gulf between the first division and the two other divisions in the league similar to that which presently exists between the first and the Premier division.
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