By Barry Janoff
November 29, 2016: Armed with official alliances from more than two dozen of the top soccer clubs worldwide and what it calls an “unprecedented opportunity to reach the estimated 3.5 billion football fans across the world,” multi-media platform Dugout.com has launched to provide exclusive interviews, information, videos and player access to fans, followers and others under its soccer umbrella.
The people behind U.K.-based Dugout.com, led by president and co-founder Elliot Richardson, also envision the site as soccer’s answer to Facebook and other social media destinations where visitors can connect, interact and network about their common interests.
Initially, however, it appears that Dugout.com is not designed to handle breaking or top news stories related to soccer, such as the one involving the plane crash on Monday (Nov. 28) that claimed the lives of most of the members of Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense.
Early marketing supporters include Allianz and Coca-Cola, according to Dugout.com.
Kate Burns, a former executive based in Europe for Google, AOL and Buzzfeed, was brought in over the summer as evp. The site's marketing mantra: "Football. Inside Out."
Among the 27 clubs currently aligned to work with Dugout are AC Milan, Arsenal FC, AS Roma, Chelsea FC, Club América, FC Barcelona, FC Bayern Munich, Juventus, Liverpool FC, Manchester City FC, Real Madrid CF, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. (See full list below.)
Dugout said it has also agreed to partnerships with many of the world's best-known footballers. Each club and player has a dedicated Dugout profile and landing site to upload content and interact with fans.
Among the players so far aligned with the site are Gareth Bale, Edinson Cavani, Joe Hart, Alexis Sanchez and Neymar.
In addition to clubs and players, Dugout.com said it is partnering with "leading football influencers and legends to create their own profile pages and produce content exclusive to Dugout users."
Soccer icon Pelé is featured in a promo spot, "This Is Dugout," although it was not indicated how involved he would be with the platform.
"Dugout was devised and built for the fans," Richardson said in a statement. "The game today is truly global and fans don't just want to watch matches in their own country — they want to follow their favorite clubs and players across the world, on and off the pitch.
"That's what Dugout offers — unrivaled access for fans to see behind the scenes of the clubs and into the lives of the players," said Richardson.
Dugout said it intends to help grow the already substantial fan bases and social media followers of the teams and players with which it is aligned.
In some cases, that would seem like a daunting challenge.
Barcelona, for example, has 19 million followers on its Twitter account and 94.9 million Likes on Facebook. Real Madrid has 21.2 million Twitter followers, 92.9 million Likes on Facebook.
Dugout is counting on soccer fans to cross lines and track more than their favorite team. According to the Web site, "The trend of following multiple clubs — on average 4.6 clubs per person — was revealed in polling of 24,000 fans worldwide.”
Dugout said the research also found that fans now "support individual players, meaning that these stars help grow the global fan base of every team they play for during their career."
"Dugout offers unrivaled access for fans to see behind the scenes of the clubs and into the lives of the players."
"We are very happy to be a part of this innovative new venture as we strive to engage our ever-growing support," Chelsea FC chairman Bruce Buck commented on his club’s Web site. "Dugout promises to be an important step forward for fans around the world who want to see some of the very best content Chelsea and other top clubs have to offer."
Francesco Calvo, FC Barcelona chief revenue officer, wrote on his team’s Web site, "Through Dugout, FC Barcelona has a new channel at its disposal to be closer to our followers. Currently, digital content in relation to football is a window into the best news stories, images, galleries, statistics and videos of the best teams and players in the world.
"Dugout will amplify even more our content with new formats that will put the fans at the centre of the action," said Calvo.
Visitors can personalize their Dugout accounts to receive information regarding specific clubs, leagues and/or players.
Dugout is accessible on desktop, tablet and mobile and will be available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese and Bahasa Indonesian.
Dugout Soccer Alliances (to date):
AC Milan, Arsenal FC, AS Monaco, AS Roma, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea FC, Club América, Dinamo Zagreb, Everton, FC Barcelona, FC Bayern Munich, Galatasaray, Heart of Midlothian FC,Juventus, Liverpool FC, Manchester City FC, Manchester City Women FC, Olympique De Marseille, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid CF, SC Corinthians Paulista, Southampton FC, Stoke City FC, Sunderland AFC, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United.
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