Jose Mourinho (editorial use only)

”I’d have been able to drink that Carling if it hadn’t been for that darn refereeing conspiracy”

From 1993 to 2001, the Carling Premiership was graced by such luminaries as Alan Shearer, Matt Le Tissier and Eric Cantona. So strong was this branding partnership that most fans of my generation are still convinced it’s called the Premiership (it’s not, it’s the Premier League now).

With the Premier League ditching current sponsor Barclays and deciding to push the league worldwide with ‘clean’ branding, like American sporting competitions the NFL, NHL, MLB, and so forth, big-name competition sponsorships are drying up. Who wants to sponsor the much-derided League Cup in this day and age?*

Furthermore, the biggest-name sports sponsorship has hit a rocky patch recently, with the FIFA controversy scaring more than a few of its multibillion-dollar backers, notably including AB InBev and Coca-Cola. If competitions are going ‘clean brand’ and no-one’s willing to touch organisational sponsorship until the FIFA controversy dies down (if it ever does), what avenues are left to sponsors wanting to associate themselves with the most popular sport in the world?

Well, Carling – long-since deposed Premier League backers – have in an ingenious move signed up the League Managers Association (LMA), the trade union for football coaches up and down the land. With the media and fans long since moving past talking in a positive way about footballers and their years of media training (“it was a good game and I think we played well”), the compelling storylines have moved off the field, to the last realm of the loose cannons.

Now, Carling hopes, whenever we think of Mourinho v Wenger or hear Louis van Gaal make another baffling statement, we’ll think of Carling, who will join the LMA for a “number of consumer promotional programmes”. The company already runs a programme offering heartbroken fans the chance to trade in the shirts of their recently-departed heroes for a new bit of kit free of charge, and so was already dabbling in the transfer market. Now Molson Coors wants to take the leap into coaching.

Imagine the opportunities! Jose Mourinho, fresh from identifying another conspiracy against his plucky team of billionaire underdogs, sitting in the LMA headquarters (also sponsored by Carling, weirdly enough), knocking back the Carling while shouting at no one in particular. Brendan Rodgers, who will only buy his Carling at a higher-then-average price from one particular supermarket in Southampton, using several cans to explain the offside rule to a terrified Eddie Howe, who’s new to all this.

What I’m saying is, to find the good sponsorship opportunities you have to go to where the good storylines are, to the places that hold perennial attention for the public. What dominates the airwaves every single weekend? Not just football, but the managerial merry-go-round, the head coach arguments, the bosses raging against the latest dodgy penalty given against their team. If Carling can get a slice of this endlessly entertaining pie, they may just have picked themselves up an absolute bargain for less than the price of an average British midfielder.

*Capital One, apparently, although it will forever be the Coca-Cola Cup to me.