By all accounts, the hedge fund titan made a great start this week to his new career as a sports owner.
He fronted up to the franchise’s long-suffering fans (and the media) in a modest pullover and delivered a simple message:
“I will turn you into winners!”
Subtext: “Who knows, one day we may go past the Yankees and become the team that puts Big Apple baseball back on the map.”
Even better, he wrapped it all in altruism with the line that led the New York Times coverage: “I’m doing it for the fans.”
Certainly, those pulling the PR strings in Cohen’s appearance deserve praise for a terrific, multi-run first inning.
In fact, Cohen may well be following the playbook that the equally deep pocketed owner of English soccer franchise Manchester City, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, did when his group bought that club back in 2008.
For decades before that, the working class fans of gritty underdogs City had looked enviously across town to the smug and storied aristocrats of Manchester United (read the Yankees). Not only did United seemed to win the league every year, they also spawned the most famous glamor boys of the beautiful game, the likes of David Beckham, and later Cristiano Ronaldo.
Then came the new owners from Abu Dhabi and all that changed.
Like Cohen, the fabulously wealthy Sheikh and his advisers had some simple messages for fans when they took charge:
1) Yes, we will invest a load of money – but it’s not about only money.
2) We will manage the club far more professionally than it has ever been managed.
3) We will first create a climate of success and achievement off the field of play – then results will come on it.
4) None of this will happen overnight. (It took Manchester City four years after the takeover to win their first Premier League title but now there’s no doubt which is the town’s top club. Cohen, meanwhile, suggested 3-5 years for a Mets World Series win.)
5) Finally, this is ultimately about you, the fans. We will bring you the sporting Nirvana you have craved deep within your soul through all the years of hurt. You will just have to know how to deal with success when it finally comes!
All of this sounds like a pretty good blueprint for Cohen’s messaging and strategy as he moves forward on his journey with the Mets.
If Cohen can deliver to the Mets half the success that Sheikh Mansour has brought to the blue part of Manchester then they’ll be toasting him in Queens for many years to come.