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Fall-out from football failure

The World Cup sent our industry into overdrive with more sponsorship surveys, brand benchmarking, and tournament trackers than you could wave a stick at.

Even we jumped on the band wagon with "World Cup Webbers" and blogged until all research angles had been exhausted. But those results are already today's fish and chip paper. We're moving on, as is the sporting stage.

What seems to stand the test of time, however, is the fallout from perceptions of how individuals and national teams performed. With so much money invested, what is the subsequent impact that this has upon sponsorships? It seems that, in addition to the effect of these "uncerain economic times", some sponsors are wary of making big money decisions in the wake of the England team failure. So how far reaching could the fallout from a bad tournament be for football, and will the Premiership suffer?

Well, the FA must be slightly perturbed that they didn't bite Nationwide's hand off a year ago for a £20m four year England team sponsorship deal before their awkward tournament demise. They are now playing friendly matches sponsor-less, but searching.

In contrast, Tottenham Hotspur is changing the way shirt sponsorships are conducted; exploiting two shirt sponsors in one season, yet it has four England players. With one agreement already in place (a meagre £20m for rights to only league games) and the cup games sponsorship deal to follow, astute and sizable deals are certainly still out there.

But given their poor performance in the World Cup will those England players now treading Premiership pastures be adversely affected by events in July?

Frank Lampard has had 5,000 unsold special edition gold plated iPod's melted down to recoup money from the raw material. Even though it was for charity, and not personal profit, it clearly demonstrates that people aren't best pleased with the Lampard brand. But Rooney is still scraping in a modest £760,000 a year for image rights so it's clearly not all bad.

Irrespective, for some, confidence has been knocked. So for those few stepping away from the arena of football in search of new opportunities… enter athletics. England win medals in that — it must make sponsorship sense. And, for the first time since their debut in 1934, the European Championships are now to be a biennial event which surely means more opportunities for brands to align themselves with success.

It's not a level playing field though; there will always be more money in football, even if England loses. It's our national sport. It's what tugs on heart strings week in week out. It's 1966, and it's Bobby Moore. However, while sponsors like passion and heritage they also like winners. Team GB are setting themselves up for exciting times as winning brands look to capitalise on their success.

 

Michael Webley
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2010