The 11 of Hearts

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To slightly butcher an American saying, Gareth Bale has “a lot of skin in the game”. When I say this, I mean that for a player whose transfer is apparently somewhere between very likely and undeniable (depending on the News outlet), he has an awful lot of non-football reasons to remain in this country, if not necessarily at Spurs. His shy nature and close family have already been discussed at length by others, but I’m more interested in his business connections. It was revealed a few weeks ago that our Welsh Prince has decided to launch his own brand, based around his well-known goal celebration – the heart-shaped finger thing. The brand would also include his shirt number, 11, in the centre. Yesterday, we were informed that this brand has successfully been trademarked, paving the way for a merchandising blitz. But, one must surely question how successful such a business campaign would be for our main man, if he ceased to be our main man?

At Spurs, he is worshipped like a God. He can do no wrong. Our fans would happily lay down in a puddle for him, to keep his prized left foot from getting wet. With this set up, his brand couldn’t possibly fail – I’d buy all kinds of junk if it had Bale’s sigil on it: hats, t-shirts, key-rings, condoms. Anything and everything! BUT, what if he went to Real Madrid? What if the big fish became a Galactico? There have already been small signs that the Real players and Fans aren’t convinced Bale’s worth is equal to his valuation. He could also go the way of previous Spurs star Modric, who has completely fallen off the grid since joining the Madrid giants. Even assuming that Bale makes the first team regularly, his God-like status will be diminished just by standing next to his new team mates, including Ronaldo, Benzema, Ramos, Casillas, Ozil and the rest. It’s like a kid who gets really good grades and is the smartest at his/her school…but then he/she is accepted at Cambridge University, and is no longer the smartest kid in the classroom. It may well be a good move from a football perspective, but it’s not exactly the best way to launch a new brand. Why buy Bale when you have already been buying Ronaldo?

Of course, it’s not only Gareth’s new brand that applies to the theme of this article – he also has to consider the other business contracts he has signed up to. He’s the new face of BT Sport – I’m sure just about everyone has seen his face plastered on a billboard somewhere, complete with crisp Spurs kit. His image has also been used by others, best highlighted by the gargantuan image of Bale wearing our new kit (which I received in the post 2 days ago, and love so much!) hovering over Time Square, one of the most famous places of the modern world. Oh and let’s not forget the Welsh Wizard appearing on the front of the UK edition of FIFA 14…IN A SPURS SHIRT!

It might seem too late to be making these arguments, given that Bale’s transfer has frustratingly been designated “impending”, but these things do matter to us as fans, and should matter to Gareth as a mature adult. I have no doubt that he’d be willing to torpedo his own brand, break all ties with BT, royally piss EA Games off, and even sacrifice his right testicle to get a shot at his boyhood dream of playing for Real Madrid. But, he’s not a boy anymore. He’s an adult with important commitments, both business and personal. This is all without even mentioning his commitment to serve 3 more years with us, as per his contract!

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