Danny Rogers: PR team manages Triesman affair well

How incredible that a private conversation between the chairman of the 2018 World Cup bid and a female companion at dinner could lead to potential failure of the whole enterprise.

Danny Rogers
Danny Rogers

Lord Triesman's fall from grace at the weekend is a tawdry case study in Britain's unique inter-relationship between powerful individuals and the media.

Many of the usual characters and institutions were involved: Mail newspapers, Max Clifford, High Court judges and, once again, the Football Association. Unfortunately the FA has started to look a little too accident-prone in this sense.

Were Triesman's private comments to a 'friend', about alleged collusion between countries with rival bids, really in the 'public interest'? At face value, probably not. However, there is an underlying story here about Triesman's 'judgement', that vague phrase that has sounded the death knell for so many senior figures in British public life.

Reading the commentary by senior sports writers, who know Triesman well, there are hints at growing hubris and misjudgement from the Lord. The Telegraph's Henry Winter, among the most respected football journalists, simply called Triesman an 'idiot'. Twice.

In the bid team's favour, they acted decisively once it became apparent the damaging story was to run on Sunday.

Thankfully there is a lot of comms experience within the bid, from board member Keith Mills (formerly the founder of Air Miles and CEO of the 2012 Olympic bid) to chief of staff Simon Greenberg (ex-director of comms at Chelsea FC) and Adrian Bevington (long-serving FA comms executive).

Along with Lord Coe and bid CEO Andy Anson, this PR team isolated and dealt with the Triesman affair along classic crisis management lines. They apologised swiftly to all affected and launched a major Fifa charm offensive this week.

I believe England's bid is not as damaged as some media are saying. There is a long way to go in the battle until votes are cast in December. But there is no doubt the enterprise is now under intense pressure and scrutiny.

The behaviour of the England team, staff, and supporters, at the World Cup in South Africa will be a major factor in whether the globe's most-watched sporting event will 'come home' in 2018. Moreover, the FA is now crying out for genuinely inspired leadership, which would give a welcome boost to its hard-working comms professionals.

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