This weekend British newspaper The People, more specifically Alan Nixon, ran a story claiming that energy drink giant Red Bull were looking to purchase an English football team "to take into the Champions League". An inside source was quoted as saying that although a London based club would be ideal, both Everton and Liverpool have apparently been looked at.
To add further fuel to the fire, Ralf Rangnick, the sporting director at Salzburg who was heavily linked with the Everton job this summer, is apparently heading the hunt. Although a takeover is only speculation at this point, it is interesting to examine the potential changes that could come about as a consequence.
Already a giant when it comes to advertising, putting their name into something as globally followed as the Premier League would be a mouth-watering prospect to Red Bull. At present they own FC Red Bull Salzburg and the New York Red Bulls, as well as teams in Brazil, Ghana and Germany, all of whom were subject to major changes after their takeovers. Salzburg was previously SV Austria Salzburg, but their name was soon changed to accommodate the corporate branding.
A similar story occurred in America when Red Bull arrived and they re-branded everything they could to turn the MetroStars into the New York Red Bulls. In the case of Salzburg, the company even went as far to state that "this is a new club with no history" though they later changed this stance in America.
A change in club colours would likely follow as well. Red Bull like their team to be uniform and follow their branding colours to a tee, regardless of the sport. Their branded teams reach far and wide, from football, to Formula One and ice hockey amongst others. Yet all of these teams wear the company colours of red and white emblazoned with their logo to remind everyone who the owners are.
In the case of Red Bull Salzburg, such was the unhappiness at the loss of the traditional club colours of violet and white that two separate fan groups soon emerged. The 'Red-Whites' are those who support 'Red Bull Salzburg', thus accepting Red Bull, and the 'Violet-Whites' who want to preserve their 72-year-old tradition and refuse to support the re-branded club. Later, a new club, SV Austria Salzburg, was soon formed by the ‘Violet-Whites' in protest against the new owners. It is hard to imagine Everton abandoning their cherished royal blue to play in the colours of their fiercest rivals from across Stanley Park.
Red Bull is also keen on using their logo for their clubs, so a crest redesign would surely follow a change in colours. Both the Austrian and American teams they own both share the branding of Red Bull as their club crest, with only the name of the club any recognition of the past. Though they have been embraced in the franchise heavy MLS, in Austria the changes have been less welcome.
Following the disastrous redesign of Everton's crest for this season, and the uninspiring new design chosen for the future, a change in badge would surely cause further trouble. As opinion polls have shown, Evertonians put great value in certain aspects of the badge, namely the wreaths and tower, so to lose these for the fighting bulls of Red Bull would surely not be welcomed with great fanfare.
It is also worth noting that the changes are not solely on the branding side of the clubs. In the case of Salzburg, when the corporation came along they removed the entire management staff, and since the 2005 takeover, the club has had five different managers who often only last a year in the job. These have included footballing personalities such as Giovanni Trapattoni, who left for the Republic of Ireland, and Huub Stevens. Though the league has been won on four occasions, Champions League qualification has been unattainable. This year in particular they were knocked out by Luxembourg minnows F91 Dudelange.
Meanwhile in America, the Red Bulls remain the only team in the division yet to have won anything since its inception. In both cases the takeover has hardly led to stability or success. Everton are a football club that prides itself on its stability, so such an unstable atmosphere more akin to that at Chelsea would hardly be a comfortable fit.
Although this takeover is likely to fall into the ‘never happened' pile alongside other apparent interest, such as that reported from a Middle Eastern group earlier this year, it is interesting to discuss what would happen if such a takeover were to occur. Though the changes listed here are pretty drastic, it does demonstrate that not all takeovers or new owners would be as accommodating as those at, for example, Manchester City.
Aside from the fact that the cost to buy and improve Everton is seemingly very high, would Bill Kenwright be willing to sell to new owners in the knowledge that they would likely change most of what makes Everton the club it is? It is unlikely. Alongside this, would Evertonians welcome such change considering the argument over the badge alone? Again it is unlikely.
Though investment is drastically needed at Everton, to become a marketing exercise for Red Bull and sell our soul in the process, in order to just reach the Champions League, is not the route the club should take. As the old saying goes, good things come to those who wait.