Monday 15 June ~

You may have heard that Michael Owen’s management company, WMG, have circulated a 34 page brochure to potential employers. There is no truth in the rumour that it comprises a covering note and 33 pages of medical reports. Owen’s injury record is mentioned, of course, alongside a section entitled “tabloid stories and the truth” which seeks to address the perception that Owen is injured most of the time and that he has long since decided that moving to Newcastle was a mistake. There are also sections on his career achievements and goalscoring stats, and a page listing 21 virtues that constitute his brand value. Some of these points are uncontroversial, including that he is “sincere” and “good looking”, others more contentious, notably that he is “charismatic” and – here it comes again – “fit and healthy”.

Sam Rush, WMG’s chief executive, says that the review seeks to highlight Owen’s “commercial benefits and international name awareness”. Indeed, this justification for what amounts to a long begging letter highlights a general trend towards footballers being marketed as individual sportsmen rather than people who function as part of a team. This isn’t a new development – players’ contracts have long since included deals for their “image rights” – but it is becoming more widespread because many football fans around the world clearly follow players rather than specific clubs; Real Madrid’s acquisition of David Beckham was partly prompted by the expectation that he would be a major boost to their marketing in parts of South East Asia where he already had an enormous personal following.

But this only serves to highlight how far Michael Owen’s star has waned. When he played for England at the 1998 World Cup at the age of 18 it might have been expected that he would be a globally-renowned name for the rest of his career. Instead, despite two big money moves, he has been in steady decline since his early-20s principally because of all those injuries that his agents understandably want to play down. In 2009, the Michael Owen brand is not likely to shift extra merchandise in Tokyo or Seoul. Unless of course he was to be called back into the England squad – which is only likely if he has an injury-free season and manages to convince a clearly sceptical Fabio Capello.

WMG have had their catalogue translated into Spanish and Italian and it has been sent to a handful of Premier League clubs – but not newly minted Sunderland as Owen is believed to not want to remain in the North East. “Through circumstances he find himself,” says the brochure, “about to make the biggest decision of his football career.” WMG neglect to mention it, but he might even be forced to more than halve his weekly wage to just £50,000. Some people have it tough.

Comments (7)
Comment by The Exploding Vole 2009-06-15 13:24:59

"...a page listing 21 virtues that constitute his brand value."

Christ, am I getting old.

Comment by Also Sprach Zaratoro 2009-06-15 15:28:24

On behalf of Liverpool fans everywhere, let me be the first to laugh like a drain.

Comment by jackofalltrades 2009-06-16 05:32:03

Take a look at the brochure:

On the front cover we see Michael being treated for injury while playing for England, and in the main picture we see Michael Owen immediately after missing a sitter for Newcastle - you can't accuse them of glossing him up can you?

Incidentally, "doesn't want to remain in the north east"? He was NEVER in the North-East, in body or spirit - take a look at his Wikipedia entry; he used to fly by helicopter to work everyday from Cheshire.

£118,000 per week - that's £45 million he's cost Newcastle over his contract, and for what return? Well, the brochure does somewhat shoot itself in the foot when - to combat the charge that Owen is a treatment-table-hugging stay-at-home loafer - it tells us that Owen actually played in 77% of Newcastle's games this season...oh dear...

Comment by ian.64 2009-06-16 08:15:33

I still contend that Michael Owen is the football equivalent of Oein McLove from Father Ted, wrapped up in that little world where only he reigns supreme and where no-one else exists except those who can give him sweets and gifts and make his life comfortable.

The only thing puzzling about that brochure is that someone like Jamie Redknapp didn't get in on the act and put a 'Michael Owen is available' type supplement free in his magazine, ICON, the flash publication for footballers who like telling other footballers what expensive country house they've just bought.

Comment by jackofalltrades 2009-06-17 07:00:19

ooh, and another thing....

Back in the day, before Ashley and Newcastle fell out, Ashley let the news leak that he'd been trying to renegotiate Owen's contract with a heavy pay-per-play bias, with tons of extra cash for goals, appearances and the like, which would - based on his previous record - have actually given him substantially more money than he was actually on, albeit on a basis that everyone could feel comfortable with. Owen refused, demanding instead a continuation of his huge weekly salary - end of negotiations.

I would suggest that until matchstick-legs climbs down from his ridiculous 'pay me £4 million per year regardless of whether or not I kick a ball for you' stance, he will struggle to get a deal with any sensible club.

That still leaves a few though, dunnit?

I have a morbid fear that Owen will sign for someone half-decent, and end up playing really, really well for them, remaining injury-free, while on half the money he was on at Newcastle - that really would rub our nose in it.

Comment by fbrazolin 2009-06-18 15:31:51

Doesn't it come with a DVD as a bonus?

Comment by chrismrbb 2009-06-19 07:48:03

How about he comes to MLS to replace Beckham.

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