We are always discussing the ever-changing real estate landscape at Redwood Consulting, but sometimes the conversation steers towards other topics and personal interests. Following the announcement six English football clubs will form a ‘super league’, five of our Redwood colleagues put their own opinions and thoughts onto paper – with a little comms twist.

  • Freddie Rosen (Chelsea fan) discusses the importance of stakeholder engagement and consultation
  • Esme Roberts (Manchester City fan) reflects on the origins of football and why a ‘super league’ threatens the future of the game
  • Tom Belger (Manchester United fan) examines the need to carefully manage brand and reputation
  • Vasu Guigan (Arsenal fan) looks at the ‘super league’ from a UK vs International perspective

Having previously heard from Freddie and Esme, we now hear from Tom…

Manchester United and Liverpool were two of world football’s most respected clubs. Both have had their successes, winning 39 topflight titles between them, and both have had tragedies, the Munich Air Disaster, and more recently for Liverpool, Hillsborough.

What has brought respect and supporters to these clubs is the way in which they have always come through these adversities to constantly compete at the highest level of the game. Whether that has been through strong minded managers such as Bill Shankly, Matt Busby, Alex Ferguson, and Jurgen Klopp, or heroes on and off the pitch like Bobby Charlton, Kenny Dalglish, Steven Gerrard, and recently Marcus Rashford.

Both clubs have fans scattered around the world, Liverpool managed to sell out the 100,000-seater Melbourne Cricket Ground during a pre-season tour, while United hold the record for the highest attended football match in US history. The appeal to build a league which can allow these clubs to exploit that is understandable, but the owners need reminding how and why these teams became the reputable mega-brands they are today.

Both have earnt support from their achievements on the pitch, and by beating the very best to win Premier Leagues and European Cups. The new ‘Super League’ takes away the requirement to work hard for the right to play in the biggest games, and it is that lack of competition that really grates on proper football fans.

From a reputation perspective, these plans were announced near to midnight on a Sunday. United could not even bring themselves to post the news on their social media accounts. It has since been buried under a heap of stories on their websites. Neither clubs’ owners have directly spoken to the media about the plans and instead have thrown their managers under the bus, making them face the press without even informing them of these grotesque plans.

This cowardice, or ‘bottle merchants’, to quote Gary Neville’s passionate rant has destroyed the reputation of these once great clubs. Gone are the days where Alex Ferguson or Bill Shankly would run these powerhouses with an iron fist. Now it is the faceless men in suits calling the shots with cowardly midnight media announcements and ‘no comments’ to the cows come home.

It takes over 100 years to build a super club, but a ‘super league’ can destroy a reputation in a matter of seconds.