The Olympic Committee has announced that David Beckham will not be selected for Team GB. With Brand Beckham playing such an integral part in the win of Britain's Olympic bid, The Drum wonders if the decision is a bit of a slap in the face for Beckham, and one which will have a knock on effect for ticket sales and the general feelings surrounding the games. Or is team GB manager, Stuart Pearce justified in not including the 37-year-old out of sentiment and gratitude for his services for British football. We ask sports marketers to give their views on the topic of the day and wither it will have long term effects for the 2012 Olympics.
Many may argue that alongside Lord Coe, David Beckham was the face of the British Olympic bid. With cameras panning to him after every announcement, his endorsement was a key factor in the success of bringing the games to London this year. Whilst helping to lead the games to Britain’s capital, he made no secret of his desire to captain the GB team, and has admitted that he is "disappointed by the decision" to omit him from the tournament.
With fans across the world expecting Beckham to play as big a role in the Olympics as he did in bringing it to London, it is little wonder that so many have found Stuart Pearce's decision to exclude him from the line up shocking.
"I think it's a colossal disservice to somebody who worked exceptionally hard to bring the games to the city," Patrick Kavanagh, head of sports sponsorship and marketing at Bananakick told The Drum. "I think they [Olympics Committee] have embarrassed themselves greatly; it's more than a brand, it's about national pride. He has done more for the British game, bringing pride to the British game and become a great ambassador for it, and I think they've let him down and I think they've let themselves down on an international level."
But Kavanagh doesn't think that his rejection from the squad will have serious issues from a sales perspective: "I think where the issue comes in is just the spirit, pride and leadership around the team."
Lawrence Broadie, managing director for Merchant Soul, agrees with Kavanagh on the feelings of disappointment that the decision has brought but believes that "it will not affect the games overall."
He added: "in terms of football, where I think there are still around 1.2million tickets available, it might have some part of an effect,” adding that in comparison with Beckham’s international fame, the choice of the “relatively unknown” Welsh striker Craig Bellamy was “strange”.
Broadie concluded: “I'm not sure the British public at large are necessarily expecting a gold medal from a GB team."
Alan Ferguson, managing director of The Sports Business, also shares his views the controversial decision has had in terms of marketing: "The Olympics have had the best marketing value out of him, and will continue to use him to effect. The fact that he is not playing, in a marketing context, I don't think would have too much impact other that losing them some sales from people who might have bought a ticket to see him play. He was integral to the marketing of London and will continue to be, but should he have been included in the GB team? Probably not. But was that name used to encourage people to initially buy a ticket? I don't know." Ferguson raises an important point here, as Beckham made the shortlist of 32 players, but was overlooked for the final squad with just three weeks to go.
Ferguson and Broadie both highlight the problem faced by Pearce, should a team be made up of strong players or sporting personalities? Which one will draw in a larger crowd? Many consider Beckham to be both and Broadie continues by saying: "From the point of view of Stuart Pearce, who was employed to win a gold medal with the GB team, we can't start messing around with sport integrity and commerciality on something like this. Looking at it purely as a football fan I think it's disappointing. If i look at it as a sports marketer I think it's disappointing, as Beckham tends to transcend divides across the world. But if I was coming at it as a football coach, maybe it would be a different situation."