European Super League: the anatomy of a PR disaster

There’ll be much poring over the entrails of the European Super League’s (ESL) failure to get off the ground this week – the biggest PR disaster in decades some think.

So who was in charge of PR? Well the PR agency was InHouse Communications, a friend of UK PM Boris Johnson since it handled his successful PR campaign to be London mayor. They’re obviously pretty well-connected politicos but that didn’t stop Boris abandoning them when, by opposing the ESL, he could detract the media from allegations of Tory ‘sleaze.’

There’s little evidence that InHouse, despite its political experience (they seem largely former ‘special advisors’ or SPADS) knew anything about football. But it was the football community that scuppered the ESL deal.

In truth, it’s unlikely that anyone told them what was going on once the deal began to unravel.

It’s also quite enoghtening to read the mea culpa statements from the offending football clubs. Those from Tottenham boss Daniel Levy are the most heart-rending, talking about the football “pyramid” etc. Trouble was, didn’t sound like steely Daniel, more a silver-tongued spokesperson on speed.

PR is a perfectly acceptable, reasonable way for companies and individuals to cast their activities in the best light by helping the media with (admittedly biased) ‘information. So a company expert in sports might have been a better bet.

The influx of politicos into PR, for whom the PM’s mobile number is the end game, isn’t doing anyone any favours.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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