The Worst PR Disaster Of All Time…So Far!
20 April 2021
I used to take the kids to watch Birmingham City when they were in the Premier League a few years ago. I’m not from Birmingham and have no connection to the club. But once you start supporting a football club, you can’t stop. And even though they get shafted pretty much every week, I can’t stop myself looking at their results and feeling a little bit sad every time they’re done over.
So, it’s clear that no one involved in the cataclysmic launch of the European Football Super League gives a hoot about football. They can’t do. iNHouse Communications – the PR firm responsible for this dog’s breakfast – has spectacularly attempted to destroy more than 140 years of football legacy in one fell press release. As PR Week reported, the ‘unforgivable tone-deaf land grab’ could inflict a fatal wound on our national sport. Football is becoming a commodity rather than a resource. A resource for communities. A resource for helping grow grassroots football as the cash trickles down from the Premier League’s TV deal.
Regardless of the money – and despite the fact that the only people who don’t realise that football clubs are businesses are the fans – the emotional connection most people have with their team always supersedes any spreadsheet obsession the instigators of the league may have. But despite the stupidity of the proposals, there’s absolutely no doubt that iNHouse Communications has monumentally misjudged the emotional and historic side of their argument and sheer level of hatred attached to the idea.
Football is about allegiance; it’s about something intangible that can either make you feel good or make you feel very, very bad. It was once about geography: living close to your local team. Now, in the age of globalisation, it’s acceptable to be a Manchester United fan and live in Penzance or Peru. But one thing connects them all: one simple drug. Hopium. Hope that your club can do a Leicester and win the Premier League…or maybe just get through a few rounds in the F. A. Cup. This made-up competition, with no relegation is hollow, valueless and, in simple terms, demonstrates a total lack of integrity and understanding about what it means to be a football fan.
After this, I would hate to be the boss of the PR agency charged with pitching for any new contract in the future. The mishandling of this launch, the complete failure to understand what football means to the fans and the reluctance of the owners to even talk about the idea condemns them to a future of ignomy, ignorance and – one can only hope – total and utter embarrassment.