Reflecting on the failure of the England team in the 2010 World Cup, this article examines the changing cultural and economic place of sport in the New Labour years. While apparently successful over the last thirteen years, UK sport’s paper-thin economic model accurately reflects two aspects of New Labour’s cultural politics. Firstly, it demonstrates the failure of the fantasy new economy based on the sale of rights rather than material goods - the ‘cultural industries’ model. Secondly, it emphasises the problematic status of public culture, especially in ‘England’, a geographical entity whose imagined community is based on sports teams and very little else.
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