Ex-Red Devil scores with €100m football academy
Irish marketing expert togs out for Vietnam in strategy to win FIFA World Cup host bid, writes Simon Rowe
Irish marketing expert Mike Farnan has teamed up with Manchester United legends Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes in an ambitious project to develop Vietnam's sporting infrastructure ahead of a planned bid to co-host the FIFA World Cup in Asia.
Farnan, has 25 years' experience of marketing sports brands internationally, including Premier League clubs Manchester United and Sunderland FC as well as Jordan Grand Prix.
The Dubliner oversaw Manchester United's global merchandising growth from 1996 to 2001, and was responsible for opening retail stores and team-branded Red Cafes across Asia.
Farnan has played a central role in devising Vietnam's ambitious 10-year 'World Cup strategy' that began with the opening this weekend of a €100m football academy in the capital, Hanoi.
The project has been overseen by Farnan's global sports agency Red Strike Marketing and local partner Football Focus Asia.
Backed by Vingroup, one of Vietnam's largest conglomerates, significant investment has gone into the project.
The real estate giant was founded by Vietnam's richest man and first billionaire Pham Nhat Vuong, who is ranked by Forbes magazine as the world's 640th richest person with a net worth of $3.5bn (€2.9bn).
Vingroup's commercial interests extend into retail, logistics, agriculture, education and healthcare.
Located on a 50-acre site on the outskirts of the capital, the new football academy boasts a training ground and modern stadium, several pitches, an injury and recovery centre, sports science facilities, gymnasium, swimming pool and hotel.
"The state-of-the-art academy will be home for up to 300 kids who will, live, sleep and breathe football," said Farnan.
Currently ranked 121 in FIFA's world rankings, Vietnam, which has a population of over 92 million, is looking to develop its young footballing talent with the aim of qualifying for the World Cup and co-hosting the money-spinning event as part of a combined bid by the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The consortium includes Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
Farnan's links to Manchester United helped secure Ryan Giggs' appointment as the academy's first director of football. He will be joined by former teammate Paul Scholes, who has been appointed a skills coach.
"This will be the leading academy in South East Asia and designed to attract not only the best talent in Vietnam but be a hub for regional teams and training camps to come, play and share ideas," said Farnan, who once played Gaelic football for Ballymun Kickhams.
He also spearheaded Dublin GAA's 'Blue Wave' sponsorship and branding project.
"The investment in the Academy is the biggest ever in South East Asia allowing for the installation of the very best equipment and training facilities including a state-of-the-art 360S football simulator machine," he said.
Sunday Indo Business