International: Elite football lobby group G-14 hires H&K for support

Brussels: Football lobbying group G-14 - made up of Europe’s most influential clubs, including AC Milan, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich - has taken on external agency support for the first time in its three-year history.

The elite football body hired Hill & Knowlton’s Brussels operation for lobbying support ahead of a number of upcoming European Union issues relating to the sport.

H&K’s initial priorities will be to provide counsel on the next European Union Treaty, which is set to include an article on sport.

The agency will also advise G-14 members on issues surrounding the Television Without Frontiers directive, and potential involvement in the European Commission’s upcoming European Year of Education Through Sport campaign.

H&K Brussels was also identified earlier this year as one of the agencies in the running to pick up the PR element of a £1.2m communications push surrounding the EC education initiative, with a decision expected imminently (PRWeek, 7 March).

G-14 communications manager Geneviève Berti said: ‘We are not politicians, but representatives of football clubs.

‘Our members wanted a complete analysis of the EU Convention on the Future of Europe with regards to the article on sport, so we sought experts to help with stakeholder mapping and so on.’

H&K public affairs manager Philippe Blanchard will lead the account, reporting to Berti and G-14 secretary-general Thomas Kurt.

G-14 launched in 2000 to help safeguard the interests of Europe’s top football clubs.

The group started with 14 members, but has since invited four more clubs to join.

Blanchard said G-14’s role was becoming more important as football is ‘increasingly discussed’ at the EU level.

‘It needs a guide through the legislative environment, advising on what is and is not important,’ he added.

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