Today and tomorrow, at London’s Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, 15 cities are pitching to become part of England’s World Cup bid. Each will have a one hour slot to include 15 minutes presenting and 45 for Q&A- which could play the greater role in the decision making.
Hefty, expensive and detailed technical proposals have already been submitted, the result of weeks and months of preparation. However, if London’s successful Olympic bid is anything to go on, and it is, the decision will come down to the panel’s emotional reaction to the live presentations.
Given this, it will be interesting to see how many have learnt lessons from pitch master David Beckham, the man who is singlehandedly rescuing the 2018 bid itself. His exploits were well expressed by Kevin Garside in the Daily Telegraph last week.
“Technical merit counts for little…….A bid must connect with the heart before it can influence the head.”
Beckham lent not just his fame, but his likeability and charm. Without him, England’s bid based on tradition, facilities and romance met with ‘blank stares’ from Fifa. With him came the emotive power of storytelling.
“Then along came Beckham with a human interest story to which all could relate.” It concerned his grandfather Joe (who had died a few days before) and how he had inspired his grandson’s love of the game. Fifa were genuinely moved.
In any business pitch, and for all its excesses football is a business, the ingredients of charm and likeability allied to great storytelling are a potent mixture. Light the touch paper!