By Tony Attwood
- The two faced approach of football regulators to corruption
- It’s the same old problems at Arsenal. But what are the same old problems?
PR and advertising have for many a long year been dirty words in England with the notion that both trades aim to turn things into what they are not and fool the public. The most common response when people are asked to discuss both trades is that “I can see how other people could be fooled by that, but I’m not”.
Perhaps as a result of that perception, Arsenal don’t really seem to have an image maker – and that’s maybe because they feel they don’t need one (or maybe they do have one and he or she is not very good at the job). After all Arsenal Holdings Ltd (not Arsenal Holdings plc as Wikipedia seem to insist) has a fairly mundane set of objectives as set out in its annual report, noting “that the company operates a Premier League football club and is engaged in a number of property developments.”
In its last published accounts it reported a loss of £107 million.
This is, in my view, where Arsenal have slipped in recent years, for by not having an image maker, or indeed an image-making team, the club has put itself utterly at the mercy of the media to create the image of the club. It has willingly done that and the result has been a disaster.
Indeed if that media were as positive about Arsenal as they are about other clubs, and if they were willing and able to ignore various little side issues about Arsenal as they are about other clubs, then Arsenal would be fine. But sadly the world is not like that.
For while, on a daily basis one reads and hears very little about what the Saudis who own Newcastle do, or what the Abu Dhabi United Group who own Manchester City are up to, Arsenal tend to be turned on for topics which although important pale into insignificance when comparerd to human rights abuses in the middle east.
Thus when Kroenke launched My Outdoor TV (MOTV) in the UK, a channel which in addition to such benign activities as angling, was also said to include films of classic English bloodsports, there was uproar.
Quite why and how an organisation like the Kroenkes can get their PR so wrong is hard to fathom, but the fact is that after that cockup over MOTV, the family still didn’t seem to get a grip on PR.
So while Manchester City have ensured themselves a comparatively peaceful ride even when involved in gigantic cock ups like trying to hire social media influencers to help improve their image, Arsenal are picked up at every turn. There was some derision but when Man C fans chant through the silence to commemorate the dead at Hillsborough the criticism was muted and very short-term. And as for picking up on the Der Spiegel stories about their finances, much of the media found outrage hard to come by and serious reporting impossible.
Thus P Morgan gets free regin to rage against Arsenal, and his latest bout of blustering in which he demands Arteta is sacked is by and large par for the course, But there seems to be very limited organised PR to counter this.
Instead Arsenal got itself involved in crypto currencies in such a way that the UK’s advertising regulator has banned two promotions for “fan tokens” from Arsenal Football Club – another PR cock-up.
These self-inflicted wounds are bad, and there seems to be nothing within Arsenal that is promoting the club’s positive aspects and achievements, as with for example Arsenal in the Community, or in terms of football, its heritage, and its improvements of late.
Thus the media is encouraged to knock the club endlessly, in a way that it doesn’t do with other clubs, because the media knows there will be no comeback.
We therefore get daily headlines such as “Report: Arsenal had real interest in signing £40m PL star in January but they dithered and missed out” from TBR. There’s no evidence but the story is so common people now believe it.
Which is not to say that Arsenal should be responding to individual stories, but if they could be 1% as effective as Manchester City and Newcastle United are in managing stories about the human rights policies of its owners, the media coverage would be utterly different.
Of course part of the problem is that Arsenal is plagued by Arsenal Supporters Trust which has a long history of putting out anti-Arsenal stories which the media lap up, but even so the club surely could do better.
I wonder why they can’t, or won’t.
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- Fifa establish their unchallengable right to change football rules as they go
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