In a few years, Emirates is going to be sponsoring everything. Do you like donuts? How about Emirates Dunkin’ Donunts. Do you enjoy having “Fly Emirates” written on everything? That last sentence might have been brought to you by Emirates.
How about the FA Cup?
Well, actually this one may be happening sooner rather than later.
According to “reports,” the English Football Association and Emirates have agreed on a $46 million, three-year sponsorship deal. That means, in short, that the Emirates FA Cup is in your future.
So what exactly does that entail?
Well, Emirates, based in the United Arab Emirates, is a subsidiary of The Emirates Group. The Emirates Group is wholly owned by the Investment Corporation of Dubai, which is a Government of Dubai entity. So for the uninitiated, if this deal goes through, England’s most magical tournament will effectively be brought to the masses by the the Government of the United Arab Emirates.
Ex-UK Minister of Sport Richard Caborn called it “commercialization gone mad.”
“You have the greatest name in football that has so many memories for so many people and you are just selling it off. If it is about getting extra money for the grassroots, then I think the FA needs to go back to the drawing board and have another look at this.”
I wonder how Caborn feels about selling the right to slap logos and silly fonts on the front of jerseys. I wonder how he feels about selling the rights to stadium names so that people can make money and buy things/players. I wonder how he feels about the old Carling Cup, the new Capital One Cup, or the sponsor boards behind every England national team presser.
England, like most other nations, has been selling every inch of space available, on anything with a surface, to the highest bidder for years. That’s why it’s hard to find the time to be outraged about Emirates or Emirati government figures adding the FA Cup to its growing list of marketing partnerships. The money train left the station a long time ago.
But this exercise does make me wonder one more thing: is the incredulous reaction a response to the idea of selling the FA Cup name rights, or is the purchaser the problem? Unfortunately, people aren’t very specific with their anger proclamations.