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Sport: Teams and leagues look to score big in new markets

By Steve Keating

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The quest for trophies may be the number one objective of every sports franchise in the world but boosting revenue is a close second as clubs and leagues focus as much on the bottom line as scoreline.

FC Barcelona, Olympique Marseille, Germany's Bundesliga, baseball's Chicago Cubs, the NFL and NHL all underlined their global ambitions at the Sport Business Summit in New York and the importance of building a brand in a competitive sporting landscape.

For the NHL, which is waffling on its participation at next year's Pyeongchang Winter Games, it is the 2022 Beijing Olympics and a gateway into the coveted China market that is the carrot being dangled by the International Olympic Committee that could ultimately sway the league to come to South Korea.

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It is soccer's glamor clubs that are aggressively eyeing new global markets with Barcelona leaving no revenue stream untapped as the club targets revenues of 1 billion Euros ($1.08 billion) by 2021.

"We are at 700,000 Euros so time is running," Francesco Calvo, Chief Revenue Officer at Barcelona told Reuters on Wednesday. "We are open 24 hours a day.

"Asia is the fastest growing continent so we are very focused on Asia and understanding how we can grow our brand, our grassroots everything in Asia."

The Spanish soccer giant recently opened an office in New York and will soon open one in Sao Paulo and China.

Bayern Munich has offices in New York and Shanghai while the Bundesliga continues to sow the seeds for global growth through smart broadcast partnership and an integrated, international marketing approach as it looks to challenge the Premier League.

While European soccer clubs are left to manage their own brands in the United States it is the leagues that control most the marketing rights.

The Cubs and Barcelona are iconic clubs that have been in operation for more than a century with rich histories but work with very different branding mechanisms.

Barcelona became a global brand for its success while the Cubs notoriety comes from a losing history that saw the team lift their first World Series title in 108 years last November.

"One of the opportunities is not only to take our brand, but baseball in general outside the U.S. a little more," Cubs president Crane Kenney told Reuters. "It's difficult for us to take our brand across borders without the league support because all the marketing and rights really belong to the league.

"The model is European football, it is the right way to reach fans. I thought Francisco’s (Calvo) presentation was excellent on that.

"We’re probably neglecting some of that."

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(Additional reporting by Larry Fine)