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Derek Llambias: PR offensive? Or offensive PR?

Posted on March 12th, 2012 | 7 Comments |

Derek Llambias.
Derek Llambias: The PR offensive continues.
As Mike Ashley’s current PR offensive continues apace, Newcastle United’s managing director, Derek Llambias, claimed that the club have had some “nibbles” from “tyre kickers” expressing interest in the club’s stadium naming rights offer.

In the latest chapter of the offensive, planned on the back of an announcement of reduced losses in the club’s annual accounts after the sale of Andy Carroll, he claimed to “sympathise” with fans concerned over the stadium’s latest name change. I’m flattered to say that he also took a swipe at my own hypothesis as outlined in several previous stories on this blog. My hypothesis being that the sponsorship offer, including the highly questionable “showcase” idea, has broken so many rules of the golden rules of sponsorship, and is so overpriced in comparison to similar sponsorship deals (with one rather dubious exception in the North West), that it seems to be a ruse, something which has been planned to fail from the start, as it has for well over two years so far to Sports Direct’s benefit.

He also sought to clear up something else which hasn’t gone unnoticed. Although the club have made offers on season tickets, including a much trumpeted price freeze, these also coincided with the introduction of membership charges for season ticket holders, along with a recent steep rise in the fee from £15 to £25. Though the season ticket price may be frozen for those who join the scheme, membership fees have not and could still rise again at the club’s discretion over the next nine remaining years of the price freeze offer.

Getting back to the first issue though, the alleged interest in the renaming scheme, Llambias likened both the club, and the name of the club’s home to a secondhand hand car, speaking of potential buyers and sponsors as “tyre kickers.”

On this he began:

“It has been nibbles here and there. We are trying.

“There are a lot of people out there who will say ‘We can do it, we can do it’. There are a lot of tyre kickers out there though. It is just like people claiming they are going to buy the club – there were a lot of tyre kickers there then.”

As to whether any of these tyre kickers happened to be from the Sunderland area this time, like Mackem hoaxer, Richard Parker (aka multi-millionaire entrepeneur “Rick Parkinson”), he didn’t say.

Like a mesmerist, or a confidence trickster, he then tried to focus fans’ attentions once again on the shiny things which eventual stadium sponsorship may bring, specifically, a hypothetical new player, adding:

“There are big companies out there and the Premier League is a global brand.

“Can you imagine the publicity they will get? It has never been done before.

“We are not trying to antagonise anyone – we are just trying to put a player on the pitch.”

He then looked back at the first botched effort at a rename, the “sportsdirect.com@StJames’ParkStadium” fiasco which lasted for two years, though he claimed at the time it would only be until the end of the 2009/10 season and would never lose the name “St James’ Park”

“We put it out there and there was no interest.

“We took some branding advice. It was not just something where we thought ‘Let’s just do it’. We took advice on it, we took advice on the arena signs as well.”

This stretches credibilty somewhat. The marketing industry, many of whom advise corporate clients on their sponsorship opportunities have reacted with almost unanimous disbelief at how ill-conceived the plan still is, the only exception being the one who acted in a consultative capacity for the club.

Llambias then moved on to the timing of the rename, during a break in home fixtures which would let the fans’ anger subside, then seemed strangely blasé on whether the controversy might have affected the players on the pitch, continuing:

“Some might say ‘Why do it in November?’ But we had a two-week break, the players were away and Mike and I can take the beating.

“By the time the players and manager are back everyone is aware of it, it may affect the game or it may not.”

It was then time for Llambias to move on to the membership charge issue. Whilst he once again claimed to feel the pain of the fans, he reassured them that like the Andy Carroll windfall, all the money would be invested back into the club. In this case he promised that it would be invested in the club’s academy, which recently experienced a large reorganisation and clearout of players as it prepares to apply for “Category One” status as part of the new “Elite Players Performance Plan” or “EPPP”.

Over to Derek once again:

“Here, father and son – if they are season ticket holders – will pay £400 for the season.

“That is £20. It is not huge. Of course you have your travel and your burger which is maybe another tenner.

“That is a day out and that is what it should be about.

“It is about families – it should not be about posing or whatever.

“We do not want to put prices up. People might say we have put membership up on the season tickets, but that is going straight into the Academy.

“It was discounted for the first year but that is going into the Academy because we need to find the money from somewhere.”

Dear reader, you might be different, but I find it hard to understand all of what he’s trying to say here. Is he saying that fans who don’t come to the stadium as part of a family group are “posers” who aren’t as welcome as families? Is he trying to lecture us on what supporting Newcastle United should be, and what it shouldn’t be? Are the new arrangements an attempt to encourage one kind of demographic to St James’ Park and discourage another? A fundraising exercise for the Academy? Or both?

Please enlighten me, if you can?

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NUFCBlog Author: workyticket workyticket has written 1055 articles on this blog.

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7 Responses

  1. I honestly think that its more of us as fans playing blind eyes over the positives.. Dellboy probably couldnt put his sentences worse, but to be honest, our frustration often results in unexpected success by those two upper men..sometimes its just bitter to admit but consider how much we save as fans with this 9year price freeze and just paying twenty more a year..dellboys use of the word poser is a blunder though but i dont think he meant it in the way youre thinking it is worky, just bad pr as you say..now slate me..

  2. I sit in the west corner known affectionately in some quarters as ‘The Library’ At the Sunderland game just after Demba’s missed penalty but before Shola’s goal, a drunken fool came staggering down the steps berating all and sundry for not ‘singing’ blaming us because the Toon looked like being beaten by the mackems! “We should have given our all to support the lads….yes they’re getting beat, but what have YOU done! It’s up to us… it’s our fault”….This following a constant tirade about not ‘loving the toon’ if we don’t stand up when told to, or hating the cockney mafia. ….These idiots seem to think they are more worthy supporters….better because they spend the whole game not watching the players, but watching other fans. Some fans seem to think you’re only a proper fan if you go to away games… Some fans think we’re all mugs if we don’t hate Ashley & Llambias. Some fans have their way of supporting the club and others have their own alternatives….
    It takes all sorts!…………….Pity the died in the wool B&W bleeder who was slagging us off had to leave early like…..he missed Shola’s goal!

  3. Couldn’t agree more JoeSoap – I am exiled in the north west and have family commitments on Saturdays so stand to see more away games than home games – especially as nufc.co.uk is refusing to allow me to buy tickets for the Liverpool home game for some reason – I was in a pub in Lancashire watching the mackems kick seven shades out of our lot and she(a lone mackem sympathiser) was saying I wasn’t a ‘proper’ fan cos I wasn’t there – I expect it from them but not from the B&W’s – but each to their own

  4. Mothboy says:
    March 12, 2012 at 9:49 am

    “Couldn’t agree more JoeSoap – I am exiled in the north west and have family commitments on Saturdays so stand to see more away games than home games – especially as nufc.co.uk is refusing to allow me to buy tickets for the Liverpool home game for some reason”

    I live in London and I too get to see more away games than home games. Now I have to pay an extra £25 membership even if I only wanted one ticket for one game, and one is all I’m allowed. If I wanted to get another one that would be another £25 membership.

  5. I think by “Posers” he meant the well defined ‘Prawn Sandwich brigade’, which is a pretty fair point.
    The wisdom of our MD seemingly having a pop at the high paying corporate boys while trying to increase revenue is up for debate though…

    I think because he’s such a loathsome individual it’s easy to read the worst into everything he says, but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Obviously some of the away fans are going to lose out on this, but it’ll benefit many more people than it harms, so it’s playing the numbers game unfortunately.

  6. John T says:
    March 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    “I think by “Posers” he meant the well defined ‘Prawn Sandwich brigade’, which is a pretty fair point.”

    It’s the “Prawn stotty brigade” at SJP John. ;-)

  7. Fact is the blokes a fkuing Wan*er and keeps putting his foot in his mouth, contradicting himself and in general annoying the fans.
    If Ashley does’nt put a gag on him, no one will believe anything coming from the club, actually probably too late for that and he should also gag Mr. double talk soundbite Pardew, almost as bad.
    Do they really believe people are that ignorant ?
    Fecking insulting!

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