A future Google Zeitgeist report will surely vindicate my otherwise baseless assumption that the David Beckham issue is the biggest sports story in the universe right now. Even the American New York Times has a view on Becks — much to the chagrin of some of its more Yankocentric readers.
(San Antonio who? I thought Spurs played up Seven Sisters Road in Tottenham!)
The British media are in full hysteria mode on this story, hiding nuggets of interesting information amid the mass of baseless speculation. Last Thursday, while the Guardian ran some predictably facile drivel from Julie Burchill (why anybody pays her to write is beyond me), the Times found an excellent angle:
… the selling of Beckham isn’t about football any more. Rather, selling the world’s most marketable footballer, whose personal brand has become so big that it eclipses the national team and threatens to overshadow [Manchester] United itself, is all about marketing opportunities, both for Beckham and for whichever club buys him.
As Peter Gandolfi, the head of sports marketing at Nationwide, an England team sponsor, says:“This is not a straightforward agreement between two football clubs. We are talking about the movement of a commercial colossus.”
Beckham is a multimillion-pound industry: selling football shirts for his club; enticing mobile phone users to Vodafone; injecting spice into computer games; helping along his wife’s faltering pop career. His face is even used to market engine oil to millions of drivers in Asia.
The credit goes not only to United and media-savvy Victoria Beckham, aka “Posh Spice”, but to his advisers at SFX, a sports marketing agency that is part of Clear Channel, the $25 billion (£15 billion) US media group.
The men who strike Beckham’s key contracts are Jon Holmes, SFX Europe’s group managing director, and Tony Stephens, the licensed agent assigned to Beckham. Also involved is SFX’s marketing executive, Jamie Jarvis, and Simon Bayliff, another agent, while Caroline McAteer, of the Outside Organisation, an entertainment PR agency, ensures that the Beckhams as a couple always stay in the news.</blockquote>
It gets more interesting: Manchester United, a public company, are being investigated by the FSA for allegedly disclosing information significant to the price of its stock improperly. Oops.
Oh, and there’s the OBE, the Posh “kidnap” saga, the EasyJet dispute as sidebars, too.