It’s been a rollercoaster of a week in football, with news of the European Super league dominating international headlines and causing a huge uproar amongst governing bodies, politicians, players, fans and even royalty.
Within 50 hours of the news breaking, the plans for the league were beginning to shatter.
There is no question that this has had a dramatic impact on the relationship between the clubs involved and football fans, with the vast majority voicing opinions that the organisers and 12 founding clubs were ruining the game and that owners were simply ‘greedy’. They were set to take £200-£300m each, leaving the pyramid system in tatters, with no support for other smaller clubs and grassroots.
The cons of the league could be discussed and debated for hours, but what’s next? How do the clubs go about rebuilding their relationships with fans?
Football represents history and traditions, a community built with fans at the heart, but their owners are businessmen who need to make their investment viable. Unfortunately in this case, the arguably out of touch members of the board, have really misread the room.
PR and social media have a big part to play in the fall out from the European Super League.
The demise of the European Super League was somewhat of a whirlwind, with the power of social media humiliating those founding clubs and their owners, whilst the football world tuned in to their social media feeds to watch those live-stream moments, reactions and events as they happened. Social media not only speeded up, but also amplified the rapidly de-railing train of events, where usually news would emerge day-by-day, the community received hour-by-hour, or minute-by-minute updates.
Social media and fan power both had their roles to play in the 4-day Super League fallout, with the crisis communications teams of the clubs picking up the pieces and hurriedly releasing statements from the owners. This was the opportunity for owners to give genuine apologies to the fans and own their mistakes, but not all statements have been received well, with many receiving a further backlash. There is still much work to be done to build trust again, mend relationships and prevent any further alienation.
However, clubs now must pick up the pieces and their moves must be focused on their fans and about giving back to their much-loved communities. For once, the business of football must take a step backwards, at least for a time.
We all know the age-old phrase, “Clubs are nothing without fans”. Even with return to stadium plans in place post COVID-19, fans are already feeling distanced and will need to feel welcomed back with open arms, but the bitterness from this fall out will be felt for a long time and won’t be fixed overnight.
“I’m eager to see how the clubs plan to restore trust and to watch the response from the football community as the story continues to unfold” – Ruth Grimoldby, Senior Sport PR Specialist.