Friday 10 August 2012
The Premier League’s significant contribution to British tourism was celebrated as part of a series of events marking the London 2012 Olympics.
The media briefing was organised by VisitBritain for the 7,000 non-accredited journalists from around the world who are in London covering the Games to highlight the factors that make Britain great.
Former footballers Andy Townsend and Gareth Southgate, who now work on Premier League TV’s overseas coverage, were in attendance to discuss the League's worldwide appeal with reporters from the likes of South Africa, China and Nigeria.
"Every now and again we have to stop and count ourselves very, very lucky that we have such an amazing product right in front of our noses every week," Townsend told premierleague.com.
"Every now and again we have to stop and count ourselves very, very lucky that we have such an amazing product"
- Andy Townsend
"It is a great advert for Britain. If you speak to anyone around the world about the UK I bet you the Barclays Premier League will come up in conversation.
"The Barclays Premier League is as tough as any international competition and is blessed with so many great players.
"The way it's supported plays a key part is why it is so popular but also we do have a very competitive league, fans recognise that and they like that.
"When you are a player it is not so easy to enjoy but doing what I do now, watching the matches, talking to fans around the world and seeing how much it means to them, it is something now that I appreciate a lot more."
The Barclays Premier League is the world’s most watched league with matches broadcast to 720m homes in 212 territories worldwide.
The universal appeal of the competition can also be measured by the fact that 935m across the globe follow the Barclays Premier League, with 615m supporting a club.
Southgate, who played for Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, believes the Barclays Premier League is a hugely positive tool for promoting Britain.
"You only have to be involved in some of the phone-ins to see for yourself the worldwide interest," he said. "And off course when you go to matches you see supporters from all around the world that come and watch.
"The atmosphere in the stadiums is fantastic and the quality of the matches has improved massively"
- Gareth Southgate
"That's enormous in terms of bringing people and tourism into the country and ultimately making the Barclays Premier League the global product that it is.
"It is something that puts our country on the map. When you travel around the world, everyone is aware of it. That is important and it does make you proud to be involved in it."
Southgate believes the competitive and unpredictable nature of the League is an important factor in attracting and maintaining global interest.
"It's a very well-run competition," added Southgate. "And also the excitement of the matches is unique, the amount of goalmouth action, the style of the game, the fact that every team is competitive.
"If you are 3-0 ahead in a game, nobody gives up. Teams keep going right until the end no matter where they are in the table.
"The atmosphere in the stadiums is fantastic and the quality of the matches has improved massively since I started playing with Crystal Palace.
"If I look at the standard of the League then compared to now, you just can't compare it really in terms of the quality of the football, the stadiums, the attendances, the atmosphere, the players and coaches from around the world, so it’s been a massive progression."
VisitBritain, the British Tourist Authority, and the Premier League and have been in partnership for the last four years to help promote Britain overseas using links to the League's clubs and players.
The VisitBritain website even has a Premier League section where players such as Clint Dempsey, Sandro, Ali Al Habsi and Ahmed Elmohamady talk about the areas where they live and work.
"It's a perfect partnership," said VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe. "It's one where each of the organisations has something that the other can borrow from.
"The Premier League was interested in the reach that we have to overseas consumers and we were interested in the huge global appeal and the sheer numbers of people that are interested in the Premier League and the players.
"We know that people are passionate about the football teams they follow and they’re passionate about the players.
"Because the Barclays Premier League is the most international of all the leagues then for virtually all of our priority tourism markets and many more besides, there will be a player or two that are playing in the competition at any given time.
"That gives us a fantastic opportunity to follow that connection and off the back of that promote the destination where the club is located."