England are producing some of the best football they have played in years and are demonstrating to everyone that they do have the professionalism and capability to go all the way to the final of the World Cup, even if Tuesday’s match was painfully tense to watch. The country as a whole, brands and players are all capitalising on the success from the past two weeks, so it begs the question: what could actually happen if football did come home?

Viewing figures for Tuesday’s game drew the biggest TV audience since the London 2012 Olympics, with 24 million people tuning in to watch England’s dramatic win. This, coupled with the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) estimating that spending will rise to £2.7bn if England makes it to the final, and Zenith forecasting the tournament will boost global adspend by US$2.4bn, highlights the massive draw the World Cup brings and the opportunity for brands to reach consumers. There are, however, brands that don’t want to spend the big bucks to sponsor at the tournament, but still want the sales uplift that the association with the spectacle will bring. For example, Paddy Power supposedly leaked ‘live’ footage of a Russian polar bear being emblazoned with an England flag. It also announced the move with a full-on newspaper wrap in The Metro. The ad read England ‘til I dye’. It will be interesting to see how Paddy Power, and other brands which have taken this approach, hijack a World Cup win for England – expect a lot of ‘Vindaloo’ and ‘It’s Coming Home’ to be incorporated.

It is almost guaranteed that the players and coaches will be involved in a large number of these brand hijacks. Both Harry Kane and Gareth Southgate have the valuable attribute of appearing genuinely nice, decent people which helps mitigate the risk usually associated with personal endorsement deals. The fact that most of the England team have also come across this way will open a lot of doors for all of them too. Specifically, for Captain Kane, he would achieve iconic status if he were to return from Russia with a Golden Boot, and it is likely that this will be reflected in further bonus payments from existing sponsors, but also in a range of new and lucrative commercial opportunities that would arise from his confirmation as the golden boy of English sport.

This World Cup has been one of the strangest of all time, and not just in terms of the big teams going out so early. The rise of social media since the last tournament has allowed a host of hilarious memes to become wittier and more insightful than a highly paid pundit, and stories from Instagram and Snapchat capture moments that photographers or TV cameras have failed to. This is a trend that will almost certainly carry on post-World Cup. And if England do answer our prayers and lift the trophy, then I for one am banking (and hoping) on ‘Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home)’ to be number one for the rest of 2018.