Signing of Michael Owen set to help boost profile of Stoke City
STOKE City fans are hoping the club’s capture of Michael Owen will help further boost the profile of the Potters.
And marketing experts believe the 32-year-old’s arrival at the Britannia Stadium could reap a financial reward for the club with interest in the former Liverpool striker remaining high.
But Stoke supporters were left sweating on Owen’s arrival after fears were raised the deal could be scuppered by red tape.
Both the club and Owen were forced to spend yesterday waiting for confirmation from the Premier League that the Chester-born forward could be registered in City’s 25-man squad.
A collective sigh of relief followed in the afternoon as news from the league’s board confirmed Owen, below, could officially become a Stoke player.
Now supporters hope the one-time Real Madrid forward, who scored 40 goals in 89 appearances for England, can replicate the sort of form that made him one of the country’s most lethal finishers.
Supporters’ Club secretary Nic Mansfield, of Penkhull, said: “I think it’s a good signing but we don’t know what his fitness is like at the moment.
“However, he has been one of the country’s best players over the last 15 years.
“We just hope he can keep clear of injuries and I am sure that fans will take to him.
“I saw some footage of him scoring a late winner for Manchester United against Manchester City. I am hoping he can do the same for us.”
Stoke fan James King, aged 24, of Trentham, who works in the front of house team at Trentham’s Toby Carvery, said: “This signing signals our intent. I have had friends, who are not Stoke fans, texting me saying that his arrival at the club is a real coup.”
Fellow Potter Sue Bryan, of Meir Park, practice manager at Meir Park Surgery, added: “I think it can only lift the profile of the club with having a front two of Peter Crouch and Michael Owen.
“We have been all over the news because of this signing and we are usually the last to be mentioned.”
And the move hasn’t just sparked interest among football fans.
Businessman Mark Lesniak, joint managing director of Festival Park-based Lesniak Swann – an integrated marketing and communications agency – believes the move could be a financial winner for the Potters.
He said: “I think it’s a huge deal. If he costs the club £1.5 million per season I think they will see a return on that fairly quickly.
“I know people who got into football because of Owen. Shirt sales will be a big one.”
Owen’s decision to join up with the club has also sparked plenty of reaction on social networking sites.
Former Manchester United and England team-mate Rio Ferdinand wrote on his Twitter account: “Congratulations to Michael Owen on achieving his dream of playing for Stoke. We’ve chipped in and got you a present” – and attached a photograph of a pair of stilts.
Fellow footballer Joey Barton also tweeted a tongue-in-cheek comment over City’s perceived aerial tactics, saying: “Good luck at Stoke. Get practising your heading, lad”.
But Owen, who has amassed roughly £24 million in transfer fees over his career to date, can expect a warm welcome from his Stoke team mates when they return from international duty.
Goalkeeper Asmir Begovic wrote: “Welcome to the team! Happy to have you mate, see you next week!”