Premier League set to move PR in-house

The Football Association’s Premier League is moving its press office in-house next month at the end of its final year-long contract with Westminster Strategy.

The Football Association’s Premier League is moving its press

office in-house next month at the end of its final year-long contract

with Westminster Strategy.



The agency has run the League’s PR account since 1994, initially under

former WS deputy managing director Mike Lee. WS continued to handle

basic press office duties after Lee’s departure six months ago to become

a strategic adviser and chief spokesman for the League’s

recently-appointed chief executive, Richard Scudamore.



The departure of Lee followed that of other Premier League account team

members Tom Engel, who left to become a special adviser to education

secretary David Blunkett, and John Zerafa, now public affairs head for

broadcaster ONdigital.



The contract, subject to a fee split in Lee’s favour since his

departure, comes to an end in March. Lee is looking to recruit a new

person to run an in-house media relations operation. As it stands, three

WS staff handle day-to-day media enquiries, although these already work

on other accounts and will be transferred fully to them in April.



Press cuttings, news releases and basic press office duties will be

handled by the team Lee is setting up, which will report to Scudamore.

PR Week understands that there are no plans at this stage to hire

another agency for the account.



In addition to overseeing the creation of an in-house press office, Lee

and Scudamore are looking at linked plans to advance the League’s

customer relations capacity. Plans are being made for ’supporter

consultations,’ forging links with audiences other than the press,

including the Government and the general public. A new position of head

of marketing will be created to manage this aspect of the communications

brief.



The Premier League has not retained agencies other than WS since its

foundation in 1992, although it has used agencies on a project basis,

including Freud Communications’ launch of the League’s Hall of Fame in

1998.



Uncertainty surrounds Lee’s long-term plans. Industry figures have

tipped Lee, and his partner, outgoing Lambeth council chief executive

Heather Rabbatts, to start up a public affairs consultancy of their own.

As PR Week went to press, Lee said: ’No decisions have yet been made on

that’.



Analysis, p8.



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