Skip to content

Undue influence?

Following hot on the heels of the Italian football story comes another sporting tale which should make us shake our heads in wonder, and probably would do were it not that it will pass most people by unnoticed. Had the comments in question been made by a representative of a betting company, all hell would have broken loose in the media, Jacques Rogge would be calling for no-fly zones to be imposed over Gibraltar and Malta, and FIFA and UEFA would be demanding bookmakers be banned from watching television after the watershed as the most effective way to bring deep-rooted problems to an end. As it is, they have been made by a sponsor from a different industry, so they barely make it onto the club pages of BBC Sport.

The story is that Standard Chartered’s sponsorship manager, Gavin Laws, wants Liverpool to buy Asian players so that his bank, their shirt sponsor, can further their brand in the region. Is that a reasonable commercial request, or is it unacceptable influence from an individual and an organisation which should have no right whatsoever to meddle in the internal affairs of a club just on the basis that its name is on their shirts?

Defenders of the comments will doubtless argue that good players can be found in Asia as much as anywhere else, and that Mr Laws is merely stating a preference if all other things are equal. But can it really be considered acceptable for a sponsor to believe it is “not that important” if their club misses out on a place in European club football’s most prestigious competition because its matches are played when their target audience overseas is asleep; and seems happy for there to be issues on and off the pitch because that fact generates publicity? What does Standard Chartered think a quote like this says to the club’s fans: “I would have thought that Liverpool have had more exposure around the world this season than anybody else……Without the turmoil at the club there wouldn’t have been the publicity”?

I’m all for a company progressing its brand by attaching it to a sport, or an individual club. But surely the first requirement of any organisation which does so is that it should not meddle in any way in the running of the sport, or the club; nor comment on its performance, the competitions it enters, or who runs it.  In my view, it’s a great shame that comments like these should have passed without any apparent response.


Posted in Regulation.

Tagged with , , , , , , , .

0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

You must be logged in to post a comment.