In general, a key part of public relations is having the ability and inclination to see an opportunity to raise your client’s profile and run with it writes NLD writer Tom Snee
Although non-league football still only gets limited coverage nationally (despite the great work of sites such as this one), the proliferation of social media has meant that suddenly everything your club does – good or bad – becomes sharable.
Bungay Town for example are getting quite a rep across the non-league community for quirky mini-stunts. Following on from their offer of free mushrooms on the last Non-League Day – no, seriously, free mushrooms – the club took a light-hearted but cutting dig at the recent well-publicised ticket price hike at Liverpool by listing the admission price on their matchday poster for their game against Bradenham Wanderers as £77.
The poster made a splash across Twitter and even made the print media. Reports suggesting that one man and his dog walked out of the game on 77 minutes remain unconfirmed however…
In contrast, highly-sharable posts have cost a manager his job this month. Former professional striker Leon Knight has long been known in social media circles for his…colourful style of tweeting, and went a step too far for his board when posting several memes about the ongoing Adam Johnson case – not only a legal minefield, but terrible exposure for Barnton, the North West Counties League club he had been doing a decent fist of managing.
Given that the club had already hit the headlines locally for a bizarrely worded match report that suggested opponents Hanley Town won games through “play acting and crying” (and worse) before being pulled down with a grovelling apology, Knight’s comments were a PR disaster too far.
For what it’s worth, I’m not 100% convinced the two incidents are completely independent of each other…
One story to keep an eye on for next six weeks or so – “controversial” manager Steve Evans has been announced as the man handing out the gongs at the Evo-Stik NPL Player of the Year Awards in April.
The reaction from fans to the fact that a convicted fraudster has been chosen to follow in the footsteps of Howard Webb and Joe Royle in presenting the awards has been overwhelmingly negative.
A strange choice from the event organisers for sure…
Finally for this month, a word on leagues extending their seasons. The Northern League season has officially been extended by a week until 7th May, with the league getting formal ratification from the FA.
Given the fact that postponements have dogged every single league across these fair Isles – leaving many clubs with the prospect of playing three games a week for the last two months of the season – it’s a fair question that fans ask as to why this isn’t done more often.
Usually, the suggestion on social media is that “the league” act autonomously in not extending the season and do it out of some agenda for or against certain clubs, but the fact of the matter is that the desire to extend the season has to come from the clubs themselves.
Often, clubs are incredibly keen to ensure that the league season starts and ends on a pre-determined date, allowing them to budget for paying players over a set period of time. Many clubs go into a sort of hibernation mode the day the season finishes, with only ground maintenance or improvements happening until the new season’s budget kicks in.
As a result, the number of clubs pushing their league management committee to extend the season is limited.
As is often the case, fans need to lobby closer to home before blaming “the league”.