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Charlier Talks Nets, Globalization and How To Get Around the Cap


SportsPro Magazine is Britain's most prestigious sports business monthly. In Building the Bridge to Brooklyn, it  takes an extensive look at the Nets franchise, using copious quotes from CEO Brett Yormark and the team's French-born, US-educated, Russian-speaking chairman of the board, Christophe Charlier. 

In those quotes sprinkled throughout the lengthy article, Charlier lays out an aggressive strategy for the Nets on the court and on the balance sheet.  The 39-year-old Penn grad lays out how the Nets will front-load contract offers to get around the salary cap; how Deron Williams changes the franchise; how Barclays Center will improve the Nets' bottom line; Russia's team; the benefits Nets players will get from globalizing the brand; and what his role is.

"Fundamentally the desire is to win an NBA championship," he explained. "I'm tasked with actually making a business out of that desire."

On using front-loaded offers to get around restrictions on the salary cap:

"At the same time, there are things you can do in terms of salaries: you are allowed to make upfront payments, so you can front-load the salaries in cash, which is something that we're prepared to do to recruit the right players."

On Deron Williams:

"I think we surprised the world by getting him. He has more assists in his first three Nets games than any player in
their first three games for a new team in the history of the NBA. And that's quite telling. He's an amazing player. We hope through Deron we can show some other players that we're the team to play for."

On his role with the Nets:

"Fundamentally the desire is to win an NBA championship. I'm tasked with actually making a business out of that desire."

On how Brooklyn changes things from a bottom line:

"Just from some of the discussions we had with the sponsors, for the same signage and for the same exposure, we can add multiples in terms of sponsorship fees. We expect that fans will also be prepared to pay more to see the team in Brooklyn and that applies across the board - local TV in New York included. There's value creation
from stepping in when no-one else believed in the project and immediate value creation from going to Brooklyn in the Barclays Center."

On Russia and the Nets:

"I think our aim is to make the Nets Russia's home team. But we're still in the early stages there. The Russian fan is a very knowledgeable fan in that you're not going to trick them into becoming a fan unless you're winning."

On the benefits players (and the Nets) get from globalization:

"Our view is that we need to differentiate ourselves from the other teams. There's a bit of scepticism still about what we're doing with the Nets, but the real idea behind the globalisation is to offer our players and our organisation a
much bigger stage than what any other team is currently focusing on.

"On any other team you play for, your fanbase is a city or, at most, a state, and in most cases not even a whole state. Not only are we Brooklyn; not only are we New York; but we want fans around the world to think of us as their team - that's why we brought the team to China, we brought the team to Russia and we brought the team here to London - and that creates for the players, well, jetlag, but it also creates some amazing sponsorship opportunities. They will be able to derive a lot of marketing benefits personally from having a much wider audience follow them, which we think while they're players is important, but more importantly when their career ends, they will have become a well known personality, worldwide brands in their own right. You look at someone like David Beckham, or you look at Anna Kournikova, who had success on the field and on the court, but certainly have much greater visibility and much greater revenue streams coming from their marketing arrangements - much, much more than their sporting performances.

"That's what we want to offer to our players.

"Don't get me wrong, we still want to win the championship, and quickly, but we want to offer our players a combination of winning and being marketable. Then you can become a Michael Schumacher or a Roger Federer and that's an amazing opportunity for a player."