Charleston Battery chief Mike Kelleher speaks on partnership, selling Hibs gear in South Carolina, and what USL side hopes to learn

Charleston Battery Chief Operating Officer Mike Kelleher believes Hibs can learn just as much from the USL Championship side as they can from the Easter Road outfit after the two teams struck up a partnership earlier this month.

By Patrick McPartlin
Wednesday, 18th November 2020, 12:15 pm
Charleston Battery and Hibs have agreed a strategic partnership
Charleston Battery and Hibs have agreed a strategic partnership

Speaking on the Soccer Down Here podcast Kelleher, who has two decades of experience working with football clubs in England and the USA, revealed that the seeds of the partnership had been sown as early as 2018.

Kelleher said: “I was introduced to Ron Gordon two years ago and we stayed in contact. He had an interest in buying a European club and when it came up, it was Hibs.

"His son moved to Charleston four or five months ago. Ron sent me an email and said, 'My son Ian is moving there, he's very much involved in Hibs, and I'd love to get you two together'.

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"It started with that conversation and now here we are with a full-blown partnership.

"Ian and I have a weekly call or coffee and it's been unique having someone who works for a European football club on your doorstep. We've also had some Zoom calls with Hibs’ Sporting Director Graeme Mathie. It's been excellent.”

Kelleher revealed that there were already areas of interest for the South Carolina-based club.

He continued: “Sometimes partnerships are at different levels; it might be commercial, might be football-related but I think having that direct dialogue with the owner opens it up to anything we want to do.

"The headline is the players who are going to train with Hibs and players potentially coming the other way but we have a huge opportunity to learn, to broaden our horizons, and see how they run their organisation.

"We are keen to see everything but there are a couple of specifics: how the football side of things is set up; how they scout players, and sport science and how they manage that.

"Also how they structure a sponsorship deal, and what their community outreach is like. They've got another big professional club in their city, we've got other things going on here that we compete with so it's interesting to see how they handle that and their relationship with other clubs.

"I have good connections with a number of clubs but there would be no point looking at an English Premier League side – it would be like going to see how Atlanta United is run, which is a level or three above where we're at.

"It's about what's achievable, what's attainable.”

Kelleher suggested that the burgeoning relationship could lead to Hibs merchandise being sold in the Palmetto State.

He said: “There's a lot to be learned cross-continent. There are a lot of things we do well in this country; not just through the USL Championship but marketing, branding - even community outreach.

"We've already had discussions about stocking Hibs gear in the Charleston Battery store. I think it's something that will very much happen.

"There are a lot of things we can pick up, even if it's small, and adapt to the culture and environment we're in.

"There are aways things to learn and I think it's open-minded on both sides. I think Hibs will be looking to see what we're doing and how they can add that to what they do."

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