Sunday, September 16, 2007

Football chiefs plan new remembrance packages

Marketing executives from Premier League and Championship football clubs are finalising plans to launch new remembrance packages for those families that suffer the tragedy of losing a young member. An inside source said that the clubs are keen to maximise their exposure in all markets and that tragic events that get worldwide news coverage are a rich source of exposure for both club merchandise and shirt sponsors.

“Football is trying to modernise, to increase its appeal with the media and with families and, like many sports, is keen to ensure it gets maximum exposure for its brand and the logo of its sponsors,” said a source close to one club. “Traditionally a few lucky families have been able to bask in the reflected glow as their child is led out with the teams as a mascot. Whilst clubs can now charge several hundred pounds a time for the honour, the number of children that can be accommodated per game is obviously limited.”

Recently there has been an increase in the sensationalist media coverage of the tragic deaths of children, many of whom come from football loving families, and it is this that has led clubs to try to ensure that families' wishes are able to be catered for.

“There can't be many children in the country who have not been photographed in a replica football shirt, available from all good club shops along with a wide range of other merchandise,” said the source. “As soon as the papers print these pictures football feels it has to respond. However there may come a time when the numbers of families involved simply cannot be accommodated.”

The clubs are working with actuaries to provide debentures for families who wish to have their child remembered just before kick-off with more expensive packages offering a selection of players available to make public announcements or attend funeral services. No decision has been made about the inevitable request for players to be pall bearers, although it is said to be “pricey”.

“It is obviously a sensitive area, and one that the clubs are treading carefully on. However players taking time out from training is not something that is easy to arrange. Neither is finding three or four who will not be hungover, to act as pall bearers.” said the source. “However a great many parents want their children remembered in the aggressive and alcohol fuelled thoughts of thousands of football fans awaiting the latest episode of foul-mouthed and disrespectful deceit that takes place on the pitch.”

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