Red Bull hare interested in a huge £200m takeover of West Ham, according to reports.
In a move that would surely spark yet more frustration amongst fans who are already unhappy with the current rebranding and increased commercialisation of the club, West Ham could find themselves the latest subject of Red Bull’s football club portfolio.
They currently own Red Bull Salzburg, RB Leipzig, New York Red Bulls and a club in Brazil, though they are looking to offload the Sao Paolo club.
Any takeover bid would require them to relinquish control of clubs in Europe due to UEFA rules, which states multiple club ownership is no allowed just in case the clubs come up against each other in European competition.
However, nothing is stopping them from becoming major shareholders and effectively bank rolling the club’s current ambitions.
No one would be unhappy with such a proposition, though the fact its Red Bull who appear to be the ones most likely to do so is a tad worrying.
It’s not surprising they are interested – location, a new iconic stadium and a historic London club like us will also make investment an attractive option – but there would need to be strict guidelines put in place to ensure the club’s identity is not demolished.
Red Bull are famous for conducting a complete overhaul of branding and sponsorship when they invest in football clubs.
The most recent example is their purchase if German fifth division club SSV Markranstadt, who were promptly renamed RB Leipzig, given a new identity in terms of club colours and crest design and then handed an £85m transfer kitty. They were promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time last season and until recently, were unbeaten at the top of Germany’s top flight. However, they’re currently the most hated club in Germany as a result.
So it’s clear Red Bull have the ability to change a club’s fortunes almost over night, but the way in which they do things is not what we want.
A £200m investment would be most welcome, but the club will need to ensure it remains West Ham United Football Club, continues to play in claret and blue and keeps the history and origin of the club crest.
By all means, Red Bull can buy naming rights for the stadium, whack their logo across the front of our shirts and starting selling cans of their energy drink all over the stadium, but that’s just about where their commercial branding take over would need to end. The rest would have to be behind the scenes and out of sight of the fans and the rest of the world.
Imaging being called RB Hammers, West Ham RB or, even worse, Red Bull London. It would spark the end of West Ham United as we know it.
So while the club should consider a huge investment, such as the one reportedly incoming from Red Bull, they must also do so with care and thought for the fans and the club’s history.