TEAM GB manager Stuart Pearce is adamant ticket sales and merchandising will be far from his mind as he prepares his squad to compete for success at London 2012.
Pearce has been fiercely criticised for his decision to omit former England captain David Beckham from his squad despite the midfielder’s influential and dedicated support of London’s bid to host the Olympic Games. Many observers consider Beckham to have been a key ticket seller for a sport in which Team GB do not traditionally feature and therefore fear his absence will consequently be a significant disappointment for those hoping to witness the denouement of a stellar career, and though Pearce has admitted to admiring Beckham and sympathising with the fact that he will miss the Games, he has defiantly defended his position by insisting that ticket sales are simply not his concern.
“In regard to ticket sales and merchandise: I’m a football man and I pick solely on football ability,” said Pearce. “I have to back my opinion and that’s what I have done.
“I’ve got a list of names written down now, who I think ability-wise are good enough to do a job. I didn’t pick on personality, I didn’t pick on ticket sales and I certainly wasn’t picking on nationality.
“To be honest I cannot tell you how many players there are from England and Wales. The 18 players are all Olympians now and that’s the only way I view them.”
Pearce was a senior figure under Fabio Capello when the latter was the England manager and, while the Italian included Beckham as part of his backroom staff during the 2010 World Cup when he was injured, Pearce has insisted that Beckham will be extended no such courtesy, even though though he has undoubtedly displayed a genuine passion for the Olympics.
“That won’t be the case with regards to David,” he said. “With what he's done to bring the bid to these shores, I for one would champion him for what he's done for the cause. But we only have seven passes [for backroom staff]. We have no passes for that.
“The players have to be prepared to come through the door on form alone and that happens to be the case with staffing too: they have their role to play.”
Olympic rules permit the inclusion of three players over the age of 23 and Beckham’s omission comes with the inclusion of former Manchester United team-mate Ryan Giggs, Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy and, somewhat surprisingly, Manchester City defender Micah Richards.
Pearce’s squad comprises of five Wales internationals and 13 Englishmen. The squad does not include any Scottish or Northern Irish players but within those selected lies a hint of how he may wish to play.
Steven Caulker, Neil Taylor, Joe Allen and Scott Sinclar were among the key players in establishing Swansea City in the Premier League during a season in which they were widely praised for their pleasing brand of passing football. That no other club features more than two players suggests Pearce’s tactics may well replicate those of the Swans.
Full Team GB Olympics Squad
■ Jack Butland, England
■ Jason Steele, England
■ Micah Richards, England, over 23
■ Steven Caulker, England
■ James Tomkins England
■ Craig Dawson England
■ Ryan Bertrand England
■ Neil Taylor Wales
■ Ryan Giggs, Wales, over 23
■ Aaron Ramsey, Wales
■ Scott Sinclair, England
■ Tom Cleverley, England
■ Joe Allen, Wales
■ Jack Cork, England
■ Danny Rose England
■ Craig Bellamy, Wales, over 23
■ Daniel Sturridge, England
■ Marvin Sordell, England