The latest Twitter related saga in football comes with Joey Barton using the service to air his opinion about his club, Newcastle United. The not-so-positive comment led to Alan Pardew, the club’s manager, making Joey available for a free transfer.
Footballers seem to continually find themselves in trouble, but to my mind I am baffled as to why.
The clubs should be looking to help the players use the service in the appropriate way. If they don’t want team selections or confidential information ‘leaked’, write it into their player’s contract that they will be bringing the club into disrepute, just as any other employer would.
A club should not prevent a player from having an opinion, we’ve had enough of players who just do as they say, pick up their paycheck and go home – it’s about time the clubs encouraged their players to interact with their fans.
If I were to tweet negatively about my employer, yes they may get a little annoyed, but they will respect my opinion. If however I were to tweet industry secrets, I’d probably get a decent telling off and a warning.
What the issue highlights is football clubs’ unwillingness to relinquish control of the PR that surrounds them. They only want their perception of the club to be listened to, not what the players think of the club.
Indeed, if they don’t want a player to say bad things about the club, don’t give them a reason to! The club must do better at getting the player to buy into the philosophy and fight for the club with every ounce sweat on the pitch and charisma off it.
Issuing ridiculous ultimatums to players will only worsen the situation. Fans deserve that connection with players, and what’s more, I think the players want to deepen that relationship too.