Ian Monk: Don't believe all the England hype

So the dogs bark and the show moves on again.

Ian Monk
Ian Monk

As general election mania (or torpor) recedes, so the media will turn as inevitably as night follows day to the World Cup.

Just as certainly as it was The Sun Wot Nearly Won (or Lost) it for the Conservatives, so the tabloids will be straining to apply the winning touch to England's World Cup bid.

PROs, advertisers and brand managers will leap on to the media bandwagon to promote their wares. It's a great opportunity for flag-waving, tub-thumping stunts and gloriously shameless promotion. Football is virtually the only national identity left.

Sales of millions of pounds of TV advertising is predicated on English advancement through the tournament. Football boasts a global community. But which brand can honestly say that it would prefer its ads to be shown in the middle of a Ghana vs USA fixture than any match involving England?

At the same time all England fans should pray that the hype does not run too far ahead of the reality of our team's ranking of eighth in the world, one place above Croatia and four behind the Netherlands. Not to mention Brazil, Argentina and Spain.

Such reality checks, though, do not sit easily with the millions invested in World Cup sponsorships, spin-offs and sales hype. The pressure on the players from the national media is immense. Many will view the scale of their monetary rewards and conclude that pressure comes with the territory.

They have a point. But should that pressure really extend to the sort of mass media demonisation of players who miss penalties or get sent off?

Football, always close to showbiz in the current tabloid mindset, will this summer supplant Britain's Got Talent as the provider of raucously intrusive front pages and stories of on and off-field anguish. Already unfounded internet rumours abound in attempts to whip up 'human dramas' around high profile players.

The headlines are being written, cameras are rolling, sponsors are all around the pitch. They think it's all over. Let's hope it isn't for England.

- Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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