Valencia set up office in S'pore

New Valencia commercial and marketing director Peter Draper believes success can be achieved by investing in young players.
New Valencia commercial and marketing director Peter Draper believes success can be achieved by investing in young players.ST PHOTO: DEEPANRAJ GANESAN

Club expects to close gap with Real and Barcelona over the next five years

With Singaporeans as owner and executive president, the obvious location for Spanish La Liga club Valencia when they open their first overseas office would be in Singapore.

Owned by Singaporean businessman Peter Lim and headed by Chan Lay Hoon, the club announced yesterday that their Asian headquarters will be located at Great World City.

Englishman Peter Draper was also appointed the club's new commercial and marketing director to help set up the office, and he revealed yesterday that Valencia hope to increase brand awareness of the club to tap on the vast potential of the Asian market.

Speaking to The Straits Times at the The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore hotel, the 63-year-old said: "The fans in Asia, and especially Singapore, love football and, with our owner being a Singaporean, common sense was to set up the office in Singapore.

"Last season was great for the club under the new Asian ownership, and it is fair to say we got a lot of attention from around the world, so we want to build on that and expand further."

AMBITIOUS PLANS

It is fair to say we got a lot of attention from around the world, so we want to build on that and expand further.

PETER DRAPER, Valencia's new commercial and marketing director

IN FOR THE LONG HAUL

First, we need to ensure that we qualify for the Champions League every year, because that is important for us to ensure we have revenue. It is impossible to be as big (as Real and Barca) overnight, but we are in this for a long run.

DRAPER on closing the gap with Real Madrid and Barcelona

SINGAPORE MATCH LIKELY

We are working on it very hard but there are a few obstacles at the moment. Definitely, we want to be here next year.

DRAPER on Valencia playing a friendly in Singapore

In a region where most fans identify Spanish football by only its two towering giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, Draper will have his work cut out trying to break the marketing stranglehold of their two rivals.

Barcelona already have an office in Hong Kong for the Asia-Pacific market. Real are also growing their presence in China, with their first team playing lucrative friendlies in Guangzhou and Shanghai, on the back of a deal to sell their merchandise on popular online retail platform Alibaba.

"They are two of the biggest clubs on the planet, but if you look at what Valencia achieved on the pitch, you can say that we are around their level," said Draper, who was the group marketing director at Manchester United from 1999-2006.

"We have to do what we can to close the gap off the field and we aim to do that over the next five years.

"First, we need to ensure that we qualify for the Champions League every year, because that is important for us to ensure we have revenue. It is impossible to be as big (as Real and Barcelona) overnight, but we are in this for a long run."

Draper also believes that the secret to a successful climb to the top of Spanish football will be to invest in Valencia's youthful players.

With an average age of 24.06, they had the youngest squad in Europe's top five leagues last season.

Their key players - Shkodran Mustafi, 23, Joao Cancelo, 21, Paco Alcacer, 21, Jose Gaya, 20, Rodrigo Moreno, 24 and Andre Gomes, 21 - are all below that average age.

Said Draper: "When I was at United, I saw the Class of '92 come through the ranks, and it was youth players like them that helped to form the connection between the fans and the players.

"I see that at Valencia as well, where the bond is unbelievable."

After a troubled period under previous owners, Valencia turned things around last season, finishing fourth to qualify for the Champions League.

Draper also confirmed that they are looking to play a friendly in Singapore next year as part of their pre-season preparations, although he added that talks are still in progress. "We are working on it very hard but there are a few obstacles at the moment. Definitely, we want to be here next year," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2015, with the headline 'Valencia set up office in S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe