Sunday, March 11, 2007

The 2017 League run-in - Postern

EK05 from chilly Manchester lands at around 7am, Dubai-time. Sitting comfortably in Business Class, the 28 players and staff from Bolton Wanderers will be checking into their beachside rooms in less than an hour, around the time Emirates' Heathrow flight delivers the Arsenal squad. It is a pleasant 28ยบ.

For Craig Bellamy, the 37-year-old Bolton manager-cum-spokesman, there will be just enough time for hair and make-up before heading off for the day's first press conference. His Communications Team will brief him on the expected barbs from his aged counterpart, Arsene Wenger, ahead of tomorrow night's top-of-the-table clash.

With the 78,000-seater Dubai Sports City stadium sold out, both managers will be encouraged to act the showman for the TV viewers. Last month's Dubai fixture, Tottenham v Birmingham City, failed to beat the NBA's 76ers-Magic clash in the global ratings. Despite a week-long promotion featuring the best efforts of Spurs' tub-thumping David Ginola, viewing figures fell-off after a goalless first half.

The League's principal sponsors – Emirates, SAB Miller and Visa – are demanding a better show this time round. Bolton-Arsenal may well be the deciding game of the 2017 Premier League season, but Sky still needs sexy sound-bites to sell to channel surfers in Emerging Markets. They're selling this one as 'Fire and Ice'.

For Arsenal, this will be their fifth League appearance of the season in Dubai, and their 14th in the three years since Emirates stumped up $1.5billion to stage 10 games a season in the Gulf. They will tack on a one-day meet-and-greet for fans and sponsors in Mumbai before heading to Munich for a one-match quarter final against Bayern in the Champions League. Bolton, last year's English champions, have opted out of Champions League in favour of a promotional tour with Shanghai Telecom. Bellamy is now one of the most recognisable faces on Chinese TV.

Cheer squads from the official Bolton and Arsenal supporters clubs have been arriving throughout the week, many of them stretching the trip into a week-long holiday. Dubai expects to bump football tourist numbers by 15% this year, adding $850m to the economy. The Liverpool-Manchester United game on New Year's Day brought in $120m alone.

Football is the star attraction but by hosting the 2015 Rugby World Cup, along with the bi-annual 20/20 Cricket World Cup and annual golf, horse racing and tennis championships, plus warm-weather training facilities, and three of the World's Top20 golf courses, sports-related business is now one of Dubai's key drivers. One US branding specialist recently estimated sport adds $5billion per annum to the value of 'Brand Dubai'. Delegations from Dublin, Moscow and Tallinn have come to town to study the business model.

Back in Bolton, Garry Hardaway, manager of Real Trotters, won't be watching the game. Just three years after being formed his team of amateurs have a chance of promotion from the Northern Counties Division 2. A crowd of 1,500 is expected for the game with Witton Albion.

The TV cameras will be there. Hardaway has a production meeting with Channel 4 to discuss script changes.

14 comments:

MotM said...

Bloody Blogspot just ate my last post!

Anyway - horribly possible, even probable. I try this sort of stuff myself, but use a sledgehammer rather than this velvet prose style. Will it really take ten years? I fear five.

More humour here already today than in 12 Big Blogger winners.

andrewm said...

Very hard to predict the future of football, but this is as likely a scenario as anything, and well-written.

Zephirine said...

Horribly convincing! and a skilful take-off of typical journo style. Thanks Postern.

If you put this one in for BB, they should have picked it - it's thought-provoking as well as funny.

I've just found out that 3 of the West Indies cricket grounds have been refurbished for the World Cup with massive financial investment from China.. still thinking about the implications of that...

MotM said...

Zeph - there are huge signs outside the grounds to this effect in English and Cantonese. Great to see some of that mountain of cash China holds being spent on this, but given the number of nations involved each with a UN seat, I'm inclined to be cynical.

Zeph said...

Strange to watch the new empires doing what the old empires used to do, ie buy up the world...

postern said...

thanks all. Motm: 5, 10...i reckon there are serious sports marketing agencies running this idea past Kenyon right now.
no worries with it not getting picked, but i tried to write the kind of article that i like reading: something that invites comment.
and what's behind the Chinese stadia deal? hopefully someone will have something for us this friday...

bluedaddy said...

Nicely sustained piece. I particularly liked the ultra-cynical pay off line.

olivier said...

offsideintahiti said...

What do you mean 2017? I thought this was the preview for next season. Mouth watering.

50KaWeekSub said...

Had a similar idea myself for a blog - futuristic scenario; this was well written and succint and a perfect blog debate; good stuff.

I wish GU would go for blogs that create debate and not the "I want to be a journo A-level coursework," that seem to constitute the majority of "winners."

postern said...

totally agree 50k. i suppose what i wanted to generate here was thoughts on the following:
1) how soon, if ever, before the Premier League sells games to foreign hosts?
2) the role of 'characters' as team spokespersons
3) the marketing of English football in Emerging Markets - what threat baseball/basketball, Serie A, etc

MotM said...

50K / Postern - Wholly agree.

It's a Big Blogger not Big Journo competition and while there is some overlap, the GU team have gone almost exclusively for Big Journo winners.

That's why it's more fun here, notwithstanding some excellent writing over at GU.

50KaWeekSub said...

Leaving everything else aside - the thought of Craig Bellamy in charge of anything is just plain wrong folks...

honolulu said...

Compelling scifi, the genre it is seems closest to and could actually be the beginning of a proper short story- do you have plans to expand it?

Really imaginative, I enjoyed it.

postern said...

Honolulu - not sure where i'd go with this piece but, if one of the purpsoes of these blogs is to stir debate, I like the freedom this scifi genre offers.
i've done a piece this week on why London 2012 needs to include Darts

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