English football would lose £50 million if they failed to qualify for next year's World Cup.

The Mail on Sunday says such is the economic importance of making it to Brazil - where England play a friendly in Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium tonight - that the FA have been warned of a commercial "disaster" if Roy Hodgson's stuttering side become the first England team in 20 years to fail to qualify for a World Cup.

"Not qualifying for the World Cup would be nothing short of a disaster," said Nigel Currie, the director of sports marketing agency Brand Rapport and an expert in commercial deals in sport. "Brands go in cycles. They are popular at any given moment and then they become unpopular.

"The England brand is popular but is on the way down and will take another serious knock if they do not qualify. The showpiece tournaments are the time when England sponsors are thrust into the spotlight as the national team come out of the shadow of the Premier League.

"England missing a World Cup removes that opportunity and highlights the possibility of it happening again. This would make any sponsors wary."