LONDON: The England soccer team's dismal failure to qualify for the Euro 2008 tournament is more than just an embarrassing dent in national pride. It will also hit Britain's largest commercial broadcaster where it hurts most.

Pundits believe that ITV is likely to find its advertising coffers around £10 million ($20.7m; €13.9m) lighter next summer as marketers stay away in their droves.

The tournament, to be hosted in Austria and Switzerland, will no longer be a 'must-see' event for England fans (neither the stalwart nor fair-weather variety) and the lack of interest among TV viewers will be a significant blow to the broadcaster.

Comments Kevin Alavy, head of analytics at media agency Initiative: "It is very important to ITV whether England qualify because when the national team play, to a degree the whole nation stops. It is therefore a hugely attractive property."

The 2004 tournament in Portugal drew a peak UK audience of almost 25 million for the England team's glorious defeat in the quarter finals at the feet of the hosts. According to Initiative the average TV audience during the championship was 19 million.

The loss of these relatively huge numbers of viewers will be sharply felt.

Alavy continues: "Euro delivers young and upmarket men, valuable demographics ITV has traditionally struggled with, which in turn helps with negotiations with media agencies over advertising."

ITV Sport, for its part, is trying to stay positive, emphasising English fans' apparent keen interest in matches featuring other European sides.

Hyped a desperate spokesman: "During the 2006 World Cup, the group game between Poland and Ecuador - on paper perhaps not the sexiest of ties - averaged almost 6 million viewers and peaked at 7.3m on ITV1."

He must be hoping Sweden v Romania whips up the same frenzy of excitement next year.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff