Already the media talk of a ‘crisis’ (Ian Monk), but we should perhaps counter this with some reasons to be cheerful.
While the millionaire players were sunning themselves in Marbella – or embarking on international ‘brand building’ tours – PRWeek has been investigating the communications challenges facing English clubs. The results will appear in a six-page football special in the next issue. But one can already see the effects of proactive PR initiatives undertaken during the game’s quiet period.
On Tuesday, the Premier League launched Creating Chances, a showcase for the CSR work that top-flight football does. Key players from each club attended the launch, almost all of whom were foreign-born. William Gallas (France), Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Norway) and Dirk Kuyt (Netherlands) took an active part.
The foreign influx is often maligned, but – apart from the entertainment they bring – many play an important role in society. Thierry Henry, during his years at Arsenal, was a hugely positive role model for British youngsters. And, from a global perspective, there was a heart-warming story this week about Chelsea striker Didier Drogba. Often criticised as a prima donna, or even a ‘cheat’, it emerges that he played a key role in brokering peace in the Ivory Coast civil war.
An icon in his home country, Drogba spontaneously grabbed a live TV microphone after a World Cup qualifier in 2006, fell to his knees, and begged the warring factions to lay down their arms. A week later, his wish was granted.
What value would one place on a comms initiative like that?
Six-page Football Special in the next issue of PRWeek, published 24 August, after a one-week break