Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rams welcome businessmen with the worst website ever

GSE is here! GSE is here!

As we so-very-briefly reported on over the weekend, Derby has joined the ranks of the Yank-owned, their fate now in the hands of General Sports and Entertainment Group.

They're a company shrouded in mystery, one that's seemingly snuck in overnight with foreign, anonymous investors and a cast of former-NBA executives to join current chairman Adam Pearson on the boad of directors.

So what does it all mean?

As Mihir Bose pointed out in his BBC blog yesterday, doing a bit of business like this is a smart, sweet move. It's a purchase for £50 million, about 20 of which goes to the existing directors, 15 covers the 30-year mortgage on Pride Park, and 8 to cover the existing debt. Factoring in roughly £10 million for players and acquisitions, and the club's looking firm again [especially when you consider the exorbitant price tag on so many other clubs in the EPL, like my Liverpool].

GSE went for Derby because they're the first "global brand" they could get their hands on. We can get to that claim in a minute, but the sweetness for GSE lies in the mighty parachute payment doled out by the EPL to relegated clubs [payments in the amount of £6.5 million over the club's first two seasons in lower leagues, although a figure that's set to rise to £11.2 million per year for clubs relegated in 2007–2008]. So, whether Derby fulfill their prophecy of slumping back down to the Coca-Cola wastelands, they'll still make a nice payday and stand the best chance of springing right back up.

Bose also points out the planning permission to develop the area around Pride Park, which will surely net them some increased revenue in a developing area.

But this is all information best found elsewhere. I'm more concerned with the dog-and-pony show that is GSE.

Who the hell are the General Sports and Entertainment Group?

Well, cursory review brings us to their website, which is an absolute fucking mess. Branding is so important in this day and age, and GSE's online presence is terrible. Like, absolutely terrible.

Their "About Us" page gifts us with this gem:

"General Sports and Entertainment is a multi-faceted sports and entertainment firm with a national reputation for excellence. General Sports was founded with the notion that the most effective way to build a successful business is through developing strong, sound relationships. We are convinced that there is no better way to build strong relationships than through the power of sports and entertainment."
If that isn't a lot of words saying absolutely nothing, I don't know what is.

Try to navigate their site with the sound turned up, and every page you click on yields a terrible .wav soundbite of a whistle being blown, someone yelling "PLAY BALLLL!", a golf club being swung, or a crowd cheering. It's amazing stuff, straight out of the web 1.0 range when you factor in the mess of generic clip art that also festoons the site.

Ragging on the web site is one thing, but I'm still confused as to what they do. They name things, host events, consult on stuff and place executives in jobs.

In addition, their team ownership record is questionable, at least according to their own website copy: from 1999 to 2006, they owned the Fort Wayne Wizards, a single-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. Sure, they turned that team's finances and organization around during that time [so their website proudly proclaims], but this is the EPL we're talking about now. From Fort Wayne to Derby? I don't see it just yet.

GSE chairman, Andy Appleby, has gleefully spent his first couple of days in charge trumpeting all the ways they differ from the likes of Hicks and Gillett, two egotistical businessmen that admittedly have much stronger portfolios and track records than Appleby himself.

Jewell's happy to have them, and happy for the assurances that his job won't be shopped around behind his back. That's more than I or Benitez can say, that's for sure.

All I can say is that GSE looks rank amateur, if their online presence is to be believed. One can only hope Derby doesn't feel the burn in the long run.


E-town Hooligan said...

Spot on. Nuf said.

hockalees said...

That website indicates to me that someone in the organization has a kid who needed a summer internship.