An escalating number of crises appear in the sport industry in general and the football industry in particular that make the area of crisis communication an increasingly important matter in both the everyday running and the long-term viability of football. However, the sensitivity of the topic makes an extensive analysis on current practice in crisis communications a particularly challenging task. This study examines how crisis communications is managed by investigating the current practices and techniques employed in English Premier League clubs, as they were presented by communications professionals employed in the clubs. The analysis of the clubs’ practices underlines the lack of proactivity and presents the most popular strategies of crisis-communications management: “Wait for the dust to settle” and “React promptly before the noise grows.” In addition, an underdocumented technique is examined: the use of the informal personal relationships between the employees of the clubs and the members of the media. This study also introduces the “crisis communications management in football” model, which illustrates the practices identified through this study and can potentially act as a guide for crisis-communications analysis in a number of other industries.
The author is with the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, UK.