The backlash against the Super League is a “perfect example” of how to destroy trust and reputation in the blink of an eye - BCI

Customer trust is essential for all organizations – regardless of size and industry. A customer that trusts your brand will not only buy your products/services but will also recommend them to others.

Building trust is not easy keeping it and protecting it is even harder, according to Marianna Pallini, digital marketing manager at the BCI. As the Sage of Omaha, Warren Buffett, famously commented: ”It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that you’ll do things differently.” 

According to Pallini, the case of the European Super League (ESL) is a perfect example of how to destroy both trust and reputation in the blink of an eye.

“In 48 hours,12 football clubs were able to generate one of the most disruptive events in the history of football and destroy their image at the same time,” she writes.

”Regardless of whether you are in favour or against, the announcement of the formation of the ESL came as a shock to everyone. But what was more shocking was the confident attitude of the 12 clubs, which seemed to have not considered the impact that this decision would have had on their own fans/customers.”

There was a significant backlash to the announcement with fans, UEFA, FIFA, former players, media and even politicians stating their disapproval towards the ESL with calls to boycott it. The clubs involved were accused of acting in ‘pure greed’ and not respecting football traditions and the feelings of their own fans.

The clubs’ PR strategies were a disaster. The ESL launch was also accompanied by a radio silence from most of the clubs involved with little attempt to explain.

“The decision created such a disruptive effect and a powerful backlash that by Tuesday evening two teams had started proceedings to pull out of the ESL. By Tuesday night four others followed and then by Wednesday more followed and some started issuing apologies … but the damage had already been done,” says Pallini.

Trust will be a major issue for all the 12 clubs - both at European and domestic level.”

“Trust has been broken with the fans but also with football organisations such as the FA, UEFA, and FIFA,” she adds.

”These clubs have not only lost the trust of their fans but also their peers (other clubs), and in doing so have significantly reduced the negotiating power that they once had.

”Although apologies have been issued by some clubs to do some level of damage control and regain the sympathy of the fans; this is unlikely to be enough. Some fan groups have welcomed the apology, but others believe that the clubs have shown their intent and that an apology will not ‘do the trick’.”

Rebuilding trust and tattered reputations will take time and there could be further resignations, she predicts.

”This could bring in new top-management and it could work as a ‘breath of fresh air’ that could wipe away that ‘greedy intention’ perceived by most fans, but again this is unlikely to be suffice, with some calling for the owners of these clubs to now leave and further demonstrations are predicted, especially when fans are allowed back into stadiums.”

”There are also reports that suggest giving fans a stake in their clubs, similar to the German model, which could help clubs understand footballing traditions better.”

”Whatever the outcomes at these clubs over the next few months, this is certainly a prime example of how easy it is to do reputational damage in the blink of an eye.”