Wednesday 07 August 2013
I was recently told a story about a man who had travelled through the mountains of Ethiopia to reach his final destination – a remote village, nestled amongst the hills. Upon arriving there, he was alarmed to note that no men were present in the village, and he feared some awful calamity.
The local women quickly reassured him however: “Today it is Manchester United against Chelsea. The nearest television is in a village three miles away so the men are all there, watching the game.”
Given it was a Sunday and just gone 4pm in the UK, this should have come as no surprise to the man in question. In more than 200 countries, and in hundreds of millions of homes all around the world, the Premier League is part of the staple diet. The appetite for English football, and for the Premier League in particular, is truly a global phenomenon.
"The Premier League’s reach and reputation is unique in sporting terms"
This is the reason that the Premier League is a natural partner for the Government’s "GREAT" campaign. GREAT aims to showcase the very best of what our country has to offer in international markets, in order to encourage the world to visit, study and do business with the UK.
It aims to reaffirm our international reputation, whilst generating jobs and growth for the UK, and is a key part of the Government’s prosperity strategy. In each of these areas, the Premier League has a story to tell.
The Premier League’s reach and reputation is unique in sporting terms and it is undoubtedly one of our country’s most recognisable assets. So it’s fantastic that Richard Scudamore has been able to join some of our trade trips over the last 18 months to help bang the drum for Britain, most recently joining the Prime Minister and a delegation to India.
And what is startling on overseas trips nowadays, is the common currency which the Premier League provides. Whether you’re at a hotel reception in Kuala Lumpur or in a taxi in Buenos Aires, the chances are they will have heard of Steven Gerrard or Theo Walcott – and have plenty of opinions on how they are best deployed!
This is an example of the "soft power" which underpins the GREAT campaign, and is why the Premier League’s relationship with the British Council is so important. Influence and attraction are essential tools of modern foreign policy – and the Premier League delivers these in spades.
The British Council partnership with the Premier League has allowed for the creation of Premier Skills. This unique initiative has seen Premier League football coaches work in Asia, Africa and the Americas, and improve the coaching and refereeing ability of 1,500 local coaches. In turn, they have gone on to build their own football projects and reached out to 400,000 young people in their local communities.
"Influence and attraction are essential tools of modern foreign policy – and the Premier League delivers these in spades"
And the pull of the Premier League is clear from the fact that almost one million foreign fans came to the UK last season, and spent over £700 million whilst here.
But the Premier League’s story is not just an international one, of course. At home they provide over £1 billion of revenues to HMRC, put tens of millions of pounds into community activities and provide opportunities for millions of children through their Creating Chances work.
Whether it is helping deliver the Olympic legacy through Premier League 4 Sport, tackling crime through Kickz, aiding literacy through Premier League Reading Stars, improving business skills through the Premier League Enterprise Academy or improving this country’s reputation through delivering a world class product, week in, week out, one thing is clear: The Premier League is GREAT.
Prime Minister David Cameron has personal experience of witnessing the popularity of the Premier League around the world:
"All over the world, people are following English football. I remember taking the Premier League trophy on a trade visit to Malaysia, and business leaders from all over East Asia came to this dinner. And I thought, 'What an honour – all these people coming to have dinner with me, I must be such a big draw to get all these business people.'
"They all wanted to come and have their picture taken with the Premier League trophy. It wasn't me they were coming to see at all!"
This article is taken from the Premier League's 2012/13 Season Review. To read more from the review, click here >>