FA resort to hard sell tactics to fill Wembley
Published 18:43 02/09/10 By Mike Walters
Desperate England bosses resorted to a leaflet drop to spare Fabio Capello the shame of a half-empty Wembley tonight.
Fans arriving at selected League games in London and the south-east last weekend were handed Football Association adverts plugging the Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria in a bid to drum up ticket sales.
An exclsuive poll on Mirrorfootball.co.uk revealed 95 per cent of supporters would rather watch Premier League action than England this weekend, a hangover from the disastrous World Cup campaign.
The FA’s hard sell has been a qualified success - by last night, around 64,000 seats had been sold and they hope the walk-up gate on the night will take the attendance beyond the 72,000 who turned up for last month’s friendly with Hungary.
Officially, FA marketing chiefs are satisfied with advance sales for England’s first-ever Friday night kick-off for a competitive international.
But the hand-to-mouth advertising campaign shows how far Capello’s World Cup flops have fallen from poster boys to leaflet fodder.
Julian Eccles, the FA’s group director of marketing and communications, admitted: “We have been pretty direct in our sales pitch for this game, and if so-called old-fashioned methods of personal contact or pressing flesh help us get the message across.
“It’s not genius marketing, but we want to fill as many seats as possible and we are prepared to explore new channels - as well as a few tried and trusted ones.
“To some extent we are in uncharted territory because we have never staged a major qualifier on a Friday night before.”
The FA had no problem filling Wembley before Capello’s nightmare in South Africa - England’s Wembley send-off against Mexico in May was a sell-out.
A MirrorFootball poll revealed an overwhelming majority of fans would rather watch their team than England.
One voter said: “Watch England? I’d rather watch Accrington Stanley until the FA admit the Italian has not got a clue.”