Captain's blog: Note to Budweiser, 'you do the beer, we'll do the FA Cup.'
Football fans may remember a rather funny advert a few years ago that promoted Budweiser being the official beer of the Premier League.
It started off saying, in an American accent: “When Budweiser became the official beer of the English Premier League, we had a vision.
It then went through a load of wild and wonderful ideas such as amalgamating Manchester United and Manchester City into one club ‘Team Manchester’, moving Arsenal to the Peak District because they didn’t have a good football team there and getting rid of boring nil-nil draws by introducing ‘added-time multi-ball’.
Quite a frightening prospect. However, the advert ended with the sentence “then we thought nah, you do the football and we’ll do the beer.”
Therefore alleviating any fears that big corporate bosses in the United States were about to ruin our beautiful game. The advert was an instant hit with English football fans.
Probably because it mocked the Americans and their lack of knowledge about football. And as it was an American-made advert it was
self-deprecating humour, something, like sarcasm, you don’t normally associate the Yanks being good at.
However, what a difference a few years make. In 2011 Budweiser signed a three-year deal to became the official beer of the FA Cup.
Cue another advert, where the promise to leave the traditions of one of English sport’s most prestigious competitions alone? No, this time the Americans wanted to get involved.
They agreed to sponsor Wembley FC in a bid to help them make it into the latter rounds of the FA Cup.
Now, I’m not against Budweiser putting money into grass-roots football, that should be applauded.
However, when it is all pumped into one club to boost their FA Cup cause alone, it can’t be right. They could have just given the FA some extra prize money for the preliminary rounds, something which has been cut in recent seasons to the detriment of clubs in the lower rungs of the non-league football ladder. The motivation behind Budweiser scheme isn’t right either. Budweiser obviously did this so they could screen the games live in America and boost the interest in the FA Cup with their US audience.
The FA Cup’s uniqueness comes from the fact that non-league clubs can become the giant killers. Budweiser executives were probably dreaming of a fairy-tale third round tie with Manchester United for Wembley FC, or at the very least a first round match with Sheffield United.
Now for those that don’t know much about Wembley FC, they are a side that play in the Combined Counties League – a division which is five steps below the Football League and two divisions below the Conference South, the league Truro City currently play in. Or did at the time I was writing this column on Saturday.
It would’ve be an achievement for Truro, without their financial worries, to make it to the first round of the FA Cup this season, but somehow Budweiser were under the impression they could just swoop into Wembley FC, sponsor them, and it would enable them to go far in the competition. It was ludicrous.
They did have a plan though, it was to give Wembley FC a few former footballers to help them progress.
Former England defender Ugo Ehiogu signed. A good centre-back in his day, but at the age of 39 he hadn’t played competitive football since leaving Sheffield United three years ago.
Claudio Cannigia at 45-years-old was an even weirder acquisition. He hadn’t been seen playing competitive league football since departing Qatar SC in 2004.
Then there was the United States Brian McBride - aged 40 and not seen since playing for Chicago Fire in 2010.
I don’t know if Budweiser underestimated the strength of non-league football in England, but it would certainly appear so. Players need to be match fit and playing regularly to succeed at that level. It is not as easy as some might think.
So it was all destined to fail and the Captain tuned into watch last week as Wembley FC hosted Southern League division one central side Uxbridge in an FA Cup replay.
A hat-trick from Matt Woods and two goals from Nicke Kabamba saw the visitors through.
And this was in the preliminary round of the competition, just two games in. At this stage Wembley were still four games away from making it to the first round of the competition.
Of course Budweiser’s sponsorship of the FA Cup lasts for another two seasons and they may well decide to continue with this crackpot idea next year, but I would like to offer an alternative.
An advert, with an American accent, that says: “When Budweiser became the official beer of the FA Cup, we had a vision. Wembley FC vs Manchester United. Claudio Cannigia in the extra-preliminary round of the competition. US star Brian McBride out of retirement.”
Then the advert could cut to a clip of Uxbridge scoring their fifth goal against Wembley and the voice over could say “then we thought, nah. You do the FA Cup and we’ll do the beer.”
It would be very good self-deprecating humour and as I said before, like picking successful football sides, the American’s aren’t renowned for being good at that.
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