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
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
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
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