The Blue Bird and The Red Devil

Okay so what I’m about to tell you is something that I am immensely proud of and something that is as much a part of me as the city I was born in. It may cause some of you to judge me, so much so that some of you may never grace the pages of this blog again. I dearly hope that isn’t the case.

I’m a Manchester United fan.

For those of you who don’t know, Manchester United (Man Utd) is a football club from the north west of England that plays in the English Premier League and has arguably been one of the most successful clubs in world football. But Man Utd are much, much more than just that. They are a global organisation that operate through what they refer to on their website as “three principal sectors – Commercial, Broadcasting and Matchday”. So besides being a squad of elite athletes and coaching staff, Man Utd is an incredibly large and complex organisation that creates revenue for their global brand via such things as sponsorship deals, merchandising, new media content delivery, ticketing and broadcasting. Now whilst an organisation as diverse as this that potentially has employees from the boardroom all the way to the ticketing office using social media, the purpose of this post is to highlight how the Club can avoid the risks that its ambassadors (the players) could inadvertently expose them to.

To draw from this list of “Top 5 Mistakes Footballers Have Made on Twitter” whilst also drawing from those defined by Malcolm Burrows’ blog post the most common risks could include:

  • Loss of Confidential Information
  • Defamation
  • Reputation

Man Utd has 16 players on their verified Twitter member’s list all of which who theoretically have access to a wide variety of confidential information, player fitness, match day tactics and training regimes to name but a few. Couple this risk with the racially charged comments recently made by Rio Ferdinand on Twitter it is clear that there needs to be either better training on the acceptable use of social media among the players or a more stringent social media policy; probably a combination of the two. Comments made by Man Utd Manager Sir Alex Ferguson suggests that they do have a policy in place as he states that the club has “given instructions to the players that they cannot talk about Manchester United”, but clearer guidelines would surely need to extend to the sorts of comments that the club finds unacceptable as well as those in breach of confidentiality agreements.

Success is something that has driven this club since it was formed in 1878 and for this to continue and for the reputation of the club not to suffer I believe that while embracing all that social/enterprise media has to offer, there needs to be a greater focus on teaching the club’s ambassadors of its proper usage. Thereby educating them on the positives it can foster and hopefully preventing the temptation to use it as a soapbox so they can keep the devil on the emblem and not on their shoulders.


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About andrewdcook

Project Manager/Animator/Beer Snob

4 responses to “The Blue Bird and The Red Devil”

  1. PrapatW says :

    Hi Andrew, I think you got a very good example for legal risks. These football players are very popular and everyone use social medias to some extent. They will be engaging with their fans though social medias a lot. The social medias policy really help to control thiem of what they can say to their fans.


    Prapat W.

  2. shaungoossens says :

    Hi Andrew,
    We have both written about professional athletes. It is understandable that disappointed fans take their agitation out on the athletes who then in turn post something that wasn’t thought trough.
    What would you include in a policy as a solution when an athlete is harassed?
    – Shaun

    • andrewdcook says :

      That’s a great question Shaun. I was looking at one of Wayne Rooney’s tweets the other day and that guy just cops it from so many people that it’s understandable how someone can just snap. I would suggest that a blanket “No negative tweets” policy, sort of a “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it at all” approach. This comes back around to the training I believe people should be given to when using twitter as part of their profession. I found your post fascinating too btw as I think it will be very interesting to see the developments between now and the next Olympics.

  3. bidah1990 says :

    Hello there,

    Its a very nice blog well done mate
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    Best wishes,


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