Tempting Fate

What’s wrong with this picture (and please bear in mind that I posted this around 11AM on the day of the Cup Final!)?

The eagle-eyed among you will note that

  1. the pic of the cup is wee bit rubbish and
  2. No one has actually won the FA Cup in 2014 at time of writing.

I’ve seen this yesterday and there was a lot of stick for Arsenal on the internet for it.

Arrogant!

They cry.

Presumptuous! Counting your chickens before they’re hatched!

And so on and so forth.

While there may be an air of that (Lukas Podolski drew a blank when asked a question in the press conference about Hull striker Matty Fryatt for example), the sad reality is that in modern sport, this is pretty much standard practice. While no footage of branded busses has emerged, Hull City have already booked their open top bus parade as well.

I first spotted this practice when France won Euro 2000 and they had pre-printed t-shirts with a message that I now forget. I remember thinking “what would have happened to those to t-shirts if they’d lost?”.

They’d have probably made unique souvenirs- a dutch friend of mine said they’d done a show where they’d looked at trinkets made to celebrate the 2010 World Cup final win. Sadly for them they lost.

This is not restricted to the sporting sphere, of course, I remember seeing on the news one porcelain company pre-empting Wills and Kate’s engagement in 2009 (which they didn’t), and no doubt there are lots of royal daughter things in a landfill somewhere.

So why do they do this if there’s a risk they might lose? The answer is that the potential financial reward of the team winning- as fans look to celebrate success by buying souvenirs- outweighs the costs associated with making the merchandise, and also the potential for looking a bit silly.

Take this trailer for an England Six nations DVD that never saw the light of day:

England did not win the Grand Slam in 2011. However, had they beaten Ireland on the final day, the ad would have aired properly rather than leaked online by a disgruntled employee and folk would have gone out and bought the DVD and made a packet for the RFU.

The question of why the stuff has to be available immediately after the event is another issue- why can’t the cup winners wait until next week to celebrate? The answer is that a week is a long time in this 24-hour news world. By the time next week comes, Sky will be building up its Champions League final coverage and the FA Cup parade will maybe get the odd five minutes here and there. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me today if ITV started promoting its World Cup coverage during the first half of today’s final.

There are many, myself included, who find themselves ill at ease with such a justification since it seems awfully cynical and points towards sport being primarily a money-making vehicle, but unfortunately that’s the way it is.

Though, I must say, it doesn’t stop it being a good laugh when it goes wrong…

 

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