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Fact, fiction and football

Fact, fiction and football


In the TV hit Succession, a made-up media mogul accidentally buys Hearts FC. It’s turned into a real-life good news story.


Hi, I’m Andrew and this is the Playmaker.

One story every day to make sense of the world of football.

Today – Succession, Hearts, and what happens when the fictional becomes real.


It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that Succession, the wildly popular HBO satirical series charting the backstabbing and conniving of media mogul Logan Roy and his family, launched its third series this week.

The series sees Logan Roy’s children vying for his attention, and most importantly his fortune.  It was in Series Two, that we saw see one incredible scene unfold…

I’m liking the look of Hearts… or Hibs.

“Yeah? Hearts – that’s my Dad’s team.”

“I got you a present. We got you a present… we bought the Hearts.”

“I’m Hibs.”

“You’re Hibs. Really? Are you sure?”

Succession – Now TV/HBO

The scene involves Roman Roy, the swaggering younger son of Logan, trying to impress his Dad by buying his favourite football team, Hibs. Only… he buys Hearts, their fellow Edinburgh-based arch rivals.

It’s a classic Succession cock-up, but that small scene has now had a real world impact.

This week, Hearts unveiled a new, limited edition shirt, with a new sponsor. On the front of the shirt, the name Waystar Royco appeared – that being the fictional media corporation owned by Logan Roy in the show.

It all sounds a bit meta, admittedly. A fictional brand, from a fictional show, that may or may not be loosely based on real life characters, is now emblazoned on the shirt of a real life football club.

It’s not the first time something similar to this has happened – fans of niche football kits may remember Atletico Madrid signing a sponsorship deal with the movie company Columbia pictures in 2003.

Each time a new release came out, that film’s artwork was slapped on the front of the kit. So you had Fernando Torres darting about with Spider-Man, or Hellboy, or Resident Evil 2 on the front of his shirt. Football really had no commercial boundaries, even back then.  

But while the Hearts/Waystar Royco shirt is a nice publicity stunt for the new series, there is more to it than just an opportunistic partnership…

Emma I’m absolutely shattered, same as Robbie, I just can’t believe it’s happened, a young man, 36, I think his wife’s just had a young baby, it’s just… we’re here enjoying a game of football, when that hits home it’s absolutely tragic, tragic news. We’re all really genuinely upset and our thoughts are closely, obviously, with his immediate family. Terrible news…

Ally McCoist, Premier Sports

Marius Zaliukas was a club legend at Hearts. He spent seven years at the Edinburgh club, in which time he became club captain, playing 193 times and helping them win the Scottish Cup in 2012.

In 2013, he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease – he died last year, aged 36. 

Hearts are ordinarily sponsored by the Motor Neurone Disease Scotland charity, and though they were temporarily displaced by the limited-edition kit – which isn’t going to feature in an actual Hearts match – the club are going to auction off some of the Waystar-Royco shirts to raise money for the charity.

Which is a good deed the Roy family could only dream of doing. 

Today’s episode was written by Andrew Butler, and produced by Studio Klong.