Why the England football team remain a hot ticket across the globe

 
Adrian Bevington
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England players retain a high profile due to the international popularity of the Premier League (Source: Getty)

I can see the score up in lights even now, 16 years later: Germany 1, England 5.

Working that game at the Olympiastadion remains one of the highlights of my 17-year association with the Football Association and the England side.

It was the first time Germany had lost a home qualifying fixture for many years and gave a new-found confidence to a young emerging England team under Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Read more: Defoe eager to use England recall to book World Cup place

Media duties took on a different complexion that night in Munich.

I recall Michael Owen swapping his prized hat-trick worn match shirt with defender Jorg Bohme at the end of the game, and having to go into the deflated German dressing room to ask for it back!

England v Germany has always been one of the great match-ups in international football, even if for many Germans the bigger rivals are the Dutch.

I only had to look at the number of famous faces in the stands when the teams met again at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa to remind myself that this is a game that genuinely commands the attention of people around the world.

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England enjoyed a 5-1 win over Germany in 2001 (Source: Getty)

Historically, England have won very few knock-out fixtures outside of Wembley. Yet our national team remain a huge draw, both in this country and overseas.

This is increasingly rare in international football now. For example, when Italy played the Germans in a November friendly, the San Siro was only two-thirds full.

That is unlikely to be the case in Dortmund on Wednesday night. England’s ticket allocation sold out before Christmas.

Even our development sides such as the Under-21s attract crowds that I know other senior international sides envy.

Hot ticket

The fact is that the England side, despite its travails, is still a great brand.

They shift tickets, they engage commercial sponsors and they sell broadcast rights – all of which is good for governing bodies Uefa and Fifa and our international opponents.

And they know it. A fixture against England, no matter how they play, is a hot ticket for other national federations.

This is down to a number of factors – our history as a footballing nation (with Scotland, we were the first national side), the global recognition of our players due to the power of the Premier League, our passionate travelling support, and the global media coverage the side commands.

This appeal is something I know the FA doesn’t take for granted. There is no guarantee it will carry on for ever. People’s supporting habits can change.

But I have confidence that the values that manager Gareth Southgate and technical director Dan Ashworth are ingraining across the set-up will deliver good results sooner rather than later. I really do.

The FA is also making sure that England retains its appeal in other ways.

Its use of social media and its multi-platform approach is part of a wider FA plan to improve access to the team.

This won’t deliver results on the pitch but it does help to ensure that the England side remains relevant and of huge interest globally.

Adrian Bevington is a judge for the BT Sport Industry Awards at Battersea Evolution on 27 April. Find out more at www.sportindustry.biz/awards

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