The biggest PR & partnership disasters in Premier League history

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of light-hearted social media jostling to get people talking.

Using Twitter and Instagram in a fun and innovative way is something football clubs and brands alike have become pretty good at. It can humanise corporate entities, and make fans feel involved in conversations they would otherwise be excluded from.

Dulux, though, maybe read the room next time…

The UK’s favourite international paint brand were announced as Tottenham’s latest commercial partner on Thursday. Within minutes – literally minutes – they were on Twitter giving it large about the club’s lack of silverware.

Obviously, they didn’t realise just how much of a sore point that is for supporters, or how seriously the posts would be taken. Intended as a bit of light-hearted fun, it’s been universally panned by Spurs fans, and there are already questions being raised about the viability of the partnership going forward.

Still, cute dog though.

While the first few hours of the Spurs-Dulux collaboration have been a bit of a bin-fire, it’s worth remembering that it is by no means the worst PR misstep in Premier League history. Oh, far from it…

Ayoze Perez: not a fan of Wonga, apparentlyAyoze Perez: not a fan of Wonga, apparently
Ayoze Perez: not a fan of Wonga, apparently | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Newcastle’s shirt sponsorship deal with payday loan company Wonga was announced in 2012 to almost universal outrage.

There were moral concerns: this was a company that profits heavily from high-interest, short-term loans, and striker Papiss Cisse initially declared that he would not play with the Wonga logo on his shirt.

There were also aesthetic concerns: Newcastle would literally have to play with the word Wonga displayed on their chests. In vibrant blue.

The club promised the Wonga money would help them compete at the top of English football. Four years later, they were relegated and the partnership was ended.

Portsmouth's Sebastien Schemmel sports the Ty brand Portsmouth's Sebastien Schemmel sports the Ty brand
Sebastien Schemmel sports the Ty brand | Dave Etheridge-Barnes/Getty Images

Who’d have thought a Premier League club teaming up with a company who made most of their money from a children’s toy line called ‘Beanie Boos’ would not have gone well?

It’s safe to say Ty missed their target audience with this one.

They pulled out all the stops to make it work: they even released a special ‘Pompey Bear’ which hardly anyone bought, before the two went their separate ways in 2005.

Paolo Di Canio did not go as Sunderland hopedPaolo Di Canio did not go as Sunderland hoped
Di Canio did not go as Sunderland hoped | Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Paolo Di Canio was once pictured doing a Nazi salute while playing for Lazio. He has described Italian dictator Benito Mussolini as a ‘deeply misunderstood individual’ and has been quoted by press in Italy declaring himself a fascist.

So yeah, his appointment as Sunderland manager was…divisive.

The Italian kept the Black Cats up in 2012/13, but the negative PR emanating from his management style – described as ‘brutal and vitriolic’
by CEO Margaret Byrne – was soon too much to bear.

He was dismissed five games into the following season, six months after being appointed.

John Pantsil of West HamJohn Pantsil of West Ham
Those shirts only came in one size | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

When West Ham teamed up with XL in 2007, things initially looked promising. They were the third largest holiday operator in the UK, and a three-year deal worth £7.5m in total promised to boost the coffers significantly.

Then, just days after Gianfranco Zola was appointed manager in 2008, the company went into administration. West Ham terminated the agreement soon after, and were left having to patch up the front of their shirts so they were no longer advertising an old sponsor,

Things get even messier when you realise that West Ham’s owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson was also the main shareholder of Landsbanki…one of the banks that financed XL Leisure.

Just not a great look all round.

Back in April 2020, as the full weight of the coronavirus pandemic was beginning to be felt, the UK government announced a furlough scheme designed to keep workers in jobs while the country shut down.

The idea was that the government would pay 80% of the salary of any non-essential staff who companies couldn’t afford to pay themselves while operations were paused.

You’d think top end Premier League clubs, and their multi-million pound profit margins, wouldn’t have to take advantage of that.

But Liverpool and Tottenham both did…initially.

Both clubs were slammed from all sides, with fans and pundits alike blasting a lack of solidarity and a reluctance to take responsibility for ensuring their ground level staff are paid.

It was the definition of a PR catastrophe and both clubs soon reversed the decisions.


Sergio Ramos has ‘said goodbye’ to Real Madrid after rejecting Florentino Perez offer

Sergio Ramos ‘has said goodbye’ to Real Madrid ahead of a now inevitable free transfer this summer, according to one reports in Spain.

The 35-year-old has played for the Madrid giants since 2005 and has won it all. In almost 700 appearances, he’s lifted five La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues, and is hoping to add one more of each before the season is out.

Any trophies Ramos gets his hands on this season, however, may be his last in Madrid. He’s out of contract in the summer, and while it was previously reported that an agreement was close, doubts have crept in since the turn of the year.

ABC claimed in February that Real had set him a March deadline for signing a new contract, which included a two-year extension and a 10% pay cut. If that was the offer, though, it seems to have left Ramos bemused.

El Chiringuito’s Josep Pedrerol claims that things went south after Ramos sat down with Florentino Perez following their win over Atalanta last month.

They say that Ramos told the president that he ‘wasn’t interested’ in the terms of the new deal, and was subsequently told that if he didn’t sign, they would have to plan ahead without him for the 2021/22 campaign. In response, it is claimed that Ramos then told Perez to go ahead.

Pedrerol’s dramatic claim ends by proclaiming that with this latest exchange Ramos has already ‘said goodbye’ to Real Madrid.

It will be a sad end to his career in the Spanish capital if the club captain does walk away for free, but he can have few regrets if he does. He scored his 100th goal for Los Blancos earlier this season, and will be remembered as one of their all-time greats.

He will have the chance to get his hands on a fifth Champions League after Real advanced past Liverpool to make the semi-finals, where they will face Chelsea.

Ramos played no part against the Reds due to injury but is expected to return in time for the semi-final first leg in two weeks.


Dulux embarrassingly troll Tottenham after being unveiled as ‘official paint supplier’

What’s worse than Tottenham announcing that they have a new ‘official paint supplier’?

That same supplier choosing to publicly troll them just minutes after seeing the deal is confirmed.

Spurs took to their website to unveil a partnership with Dulux, who have been given the totally necessary honour of supplying all the paint Spurs will use over the next few years, and they were probably really happy with the whole agreement.

And then they checked social media…

One user joked that Dulux could provide the paint for the cabinet, which has not seen a new trophy since the 2008 League Cup, and incredibly, Dulux joined in on the banter by posting an ‘advert’ for an unused trophy cabinet with Spurs’ crest on it…nice one…

On top of silverware digs, Dulux joked that they’d have to wipe away all the dust before painting the cabinet and even claimed that the famous Dulux dog would do a better job at centre-back than Jose Mourinho’s current crop of defenders.

Just because Mourinho likes throwing centre-backs Davinson Sanchez, Eric Dier, Joe Rodon and Toby Alderweireld under the bus, that doesn’t mean it’s okay. You know, unless that bus is a lovely shade of Duck Egg Blue.

What has come of the world? If you can’t trust your own official paint supplier, who can you trust?

The partnership with Dulux is designed to give Spurs a ‘competitive edge’, with the right colour scheme seen as the key to success in both football and interior decorating – two very similar fields.

The stadium might look pretty, but was it all worth the dent in Spurs’ ego?

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PSG want Neymar contract renewal before Champions League semi-final

PSG are hopeful of announcing a new six-year contract for Brazilian forward Neymar before they meet Manchester City in the Champions League semi-final on April 27.

After months and months and months of speculation, the wheels are now in motion for Neymar to extend his stay at the Parc des Princes after his agent confirmed that the 29-year-old wants to ink fresh terms in the near future.

Neymar feels at home in Paris | Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Neymar himself recently suggested that an agreement was all but finalised, admitting: “The contract extension with PSG is no longer a topic.”

While most reports have centred around a new contract which will run until 2026, L’Equipe (via GFFN) state that Neymar has actually agreed to a deal which will run for an extra year, committing himself to the Parisians until 2027 – when he will be 35 years old.

The agreement was struck back in February and the delay has only stemmed from the final legal details of a contract of this magnitude. With so many clauses to agree to, things were always likely to drag on – but PSG are now confident that things are almost sorted.

The hope is that an official announcement will be made before City come to town for the first leg of their Champions League semi-final in late April.

Neymar proved his worth to PSG in the quarter-final triumph over defending champions Bayern Munich. He bagged two assists in the 3-2 win from the first leg, before putting on a magnificent show in the return fixture which was not marred by the 1-0 loss.

“We have invested a lot in the club to win the Champions League and all the trophies available,” PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi told RMC Sport (via Sky Sports) the team booked their place in the last four. “Neymar and Kylian [Mbappe] have no excuse to leave. We really have everything to win all the tournaments.

Neymar, Kylian MbappeNeymar, Kylian Mbappe
Mbappe’s future is also up in the air | Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

“We have a great team today. We have respect for the others but we are there with them. We are working. And it is not over. We need to continue, to remain calm because the Champions League is not finished. We need to work more each day. The belief is there. The secret is work. The details make the difference too.”

With the Neymar deal all but done, PSG’s focus will now turn to Mbappe, who is set to enter the final 12 months of his deal and has been heavily followed by Real Madrid.

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Real Madrid team bus damaged by Liverpool fans prior to Champions League clash

There’s a lot to be said for creating an intimidating atmosphere prior to a big game.

Not only is it a chance to get yourself riled up and excited for the match, it can also unnerve the opposition and possibly hand your side the advantage – something which has never been proved to actually work but, well, we do it anyway.

One set of fans who’ve become synonymous with such displays prior to a big occasion are Liverpool fans. You remember the mass gatherings outside Anfield pre-COVID?

Anyway, it seems fans of the Reds have decided that not being able to attend grounds isn’t going to stop them rattling their side’s opposition, and so some idiots have decided to damage the Real Madrid team bus as it made its way to Anfield for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

Like seriously, what’s the point? Breaking bus windows prior to a game because you think it’ll help your team win? Do you even know what football is? Do you even know how the sport works?

Jurgen Klopp and Zinedine Zidane will be vying for a place in the Champions League semi-finalJurgen Klopp and Zinedine Zidane will be vying for a place in the Champions League semi-final
Jurgen Klopp and Zinedine Zidane will be vying for a place in the Champions League semi-final | Angel Martinez/Getty Images

In a short video uploaded to ESPN’s official Twitter account, a man can be seen scraping away the shards of tinted glass from the outside of the window caused by whatever was thrown at the bus.

Liverpool have released a statement condemning the incident: “We condemn unequivocally the actions that led to Real Madrid’s team bus being damaged during its arrival to Anfield this evening.

“It is totally unacceptable and shameful behaviour of a few individuals. We sincerely apologise to our visitors for any distress caused. We will work together with Merseyside Police to establish the facts and identify those responsible.”

This is the not the first time in recent years that Liverpool fans have taken their pre-game ‘atmosphere’ creation a bit too far.

In 2018, prior to a Champions League clash with Man City, Reds fans hurled objects at the Cityzens’ team bus, smashing windows in the process. The club were subsequently fined by UEFA for the trouble.