Ugly comms blights the beautiful game

It's hard to stay neutral about the beautiful game. Football fires the blood, although not last weekend's Charity Shield match, to which Wigan Athletic turned up, but didn't play.

Ruth Wyatt: 'Even a jane & John levelPR practitioner could have told Allam to tread carefully when describing his plans to Hull's fans.'
Ruth Wyatt: 'Even a jane & John levelPR practitioner could have told Allam to tread carefully when describing his plans to Hull's fans.'

Sitting in the supposedly neutral area at Wembley Stadium with two undercover Man United fans, I had ample time to reflect on the various PR problems in football thanks to the stupefyingly dull on-pitch proceedings.

Let's start with the rebranding of Hull City as Hull Tigers. As if renaming a football club to sound like an American baseball team wasn't bad enough, giving the following interview to the local paper - the local paper! - is unforgivable.

'Hull City is irrelevant,' said chairman Assem Allam in the Hull Daily Mail. 'My dislike for the word "City" is because it is common. City is also associated with Leicester, Bristol, Manchester and many other clubs. I don't like being like everybody else. It is about identity. City is a lousy identity. Hull City Association Football is so long.'

Lousy, common and irrelevant - three great adjectives with which to enrage local loyalists, who no doubt would rather be concentrating their energies on their team's return to the Premier League than dealing with their chairman's extreme case of foot in mouth disease.

Football is big business for sure; brands must be leveraged certainly, but even a Janet & John-level PR practitioner could have told Allam to tread carefully and speak tactfully and respectfully when describing his plans to the club's fans.

Tact and respect are in desperately short supply for my beloved club's deeply unloved striker Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan forward whose virtuosity with the ball is regularly eclipsed by his talent for getting banned through bad behaviour could really do with a personal PR professional.

Or a gag.

One minute he is blaming the media for making his life here in England a misery; the next he is using them to apply pressure on Liverpool to sell him to Arsenal.

As James Pearce put it in the Liverpool Echo: 'If Suarez believed his attack on Liverpool FC would smooth his passage to Arsenal he was sadly mistaken. All Suarez achieved in going public over his burning desire to quit Anfield and move to the capital was to prove that he has no shame.'

I'd add that it also proved how much good paying someone a fraction of his wages to advise on media relations and reputation management could do for him.

ruth.wyatt@haymarket.com

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