Introducing our first ever guest blog’ Andy Neild at Viva Sport, PR specialists for the sports sector, discusses the Harry Redknapp debacle and the importance of maintaining brand value in the field of sport.

Over to Andy…

Harry Redknapp has always had something of the Arthur Daily about him. Often portrayed as the cheeky chappie who likes nothing better than doing a deal, Harry has also worked minor miracles at a number of football clubs.

No surprise then that Redknapp has been widely tipped to become the next manager of England, not least by the man himself.

However, the focus is now Redknapp the man as he faces the most important match of his career: Inland Revenue v Future England Boss. The fallout could shape whether Harry becomes the FA’s choice or not.

Redknapp’s whole reputation is on the line in the case currently taking place at Southwark Crown Court. It’s that, rather than the outcome of the Premier League title race, that will decide his career fate. This headline-grabbing case has already produced some incredible testimony but for us at Viva Sport it perfectly underscores the value of having the right name and reputation and how that can impact on your commercial value.
Footballers as a breed had been a little slow on the uptake in this respect but since the David Beckham brand explosion some of them have started to wise up. Becks is without question the perfect illustration of the ‘footballer as brand’ but the Redknapp case shows that each individual in the modern game has a brand value and a name to protect. Too often the crisis management is left to the clubs, who ultimately are only looking their name and not the individual’s, which we reckon is fair enough.

Despite the Beckham experience, the importance of ‘brand value’ is lost on too many players, who, thanks to social media, are more at risk than ever before. They need help in ensuring their image is protected and this doesn’t just mean from a legal perspective but from a media one too. Judicious placement of the right stories with the right messages is a key part of any branding strategy and that’s just as true of sporting brands as it is with other commercial names.

A wise PR move is without doubt a wise career move too. We can all think of players ‘with baggage’ who have subsequently seen their transfer values fall accordingly, regardless of the skills they possess. But looking beyond the field of play an individual’s commercial value can be severely damaged if they fail to get the right team around them to look after their name.

It’s a lesson Harry may find to his cost in the weeks ahead.

For more information about proactive brand/reputation management, contact us at Viva Sport.

If you are concerned about defamatory comments that have been made against you and would like legal advice on defamation, please contact Daniel Draper at Farleys.