Japanese Star Has Enormous Following

Last updated : 17 August 2005 By Matt Bottom
Bolton Wanderers insist any commercial spin-offs from Hidetoshi Nakata's signing will simply be regarded as an unexpected bonus.

Nakata's signature may open up a lucrative market in the Far East, where Wanderers toured pre-season, but boss Sam Allardyce said that was not his main consideration.

"I really don't see us capitalising on it. But if we can it would be magnificent," he said.

"Hidetoshi is one of the top men to come out of Japan - and because he's come to Europe and done well, more and more people over there are going to turn their attention to Bolton Wanderers. There is such a lot to tap into in Asia.

"If that comes along later and he ends up paying for himself then fine. We need the money more than anybody else.

"But we didn't make a bean out of Akinori Nishizawa, so I'm not banking on it."

Wanderers' spokesman Danny Ruben said: "We are expecting some demand because he is the biggest name in Japanese football.

"Wherever Nakata goes, the fans tend to follow. But at this early stage, it's difficult to say how popular the Bolton Wanderers brand could be over there.

"There is potential. But we need to understand more about the market before we can put any plans in place - and, of course, Hidetoshi has to make an impact on the field.

"The fact that he will only be here on loan to begin with obviously has a bearing on how we handle that side of things.

"But football is the priority. The reason he is here is because he can play."