Gareth Bale, Football Agents and the Art of PR
Gareth Bale, Football Agents and the Art of PRMarch 5, 2019
It has been impossible for even the casual football fan to have missed the coverage over the last few days in the media about Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale. The furore revolves around not only alleged fan unrest at his place in the team but also “quotes” from some of his own teammates, few of them complimentary. For Gareth himself, clearly this is a terrible position to find themselves in, regardless of who’s, if’s and why’s and, being under contract at his club until June 2022. Step forward, Jonathan Barnett, Gareth’s agent and founder of the multi-national Stellar Group sport’s consultancy agency.
Barnett has been quoted across the media in response to the negative coverage Bale has recently suffered. Speaking as his agent, not, crucially, as a conduit for Bale’s own words, he said the following:
“This generation of Real fans will be talking about Gareth’s goals for years to come. Frankly they should be ashamed of themselves. Gareth deserves the greatest of respect. The way the Real fans have treated Gareth is nothing short of a disgrace”.
“In the six years he has been in Spain, he has won everything. He’s one of the best players in the world. Despite what the Spanish press are reporting, he’s happy, he speaks reasonable Spanish and there is no problem between him and the rest of the Real players. The people writing these things know nothing about him. There has not been one single discussion about Gareth leaving Madrid. He isn’t going anywhere this summer”.
“Despite what’s been reported, he’s satisfied, he wants to stay at Real and they want him. Those fans should be kissing his feet. In general, he has been great for the club and for the fans to boo him is absolutely disgraceful. He loves Real Madrid and it must hurt him to be booed. It must”.
“If you look back in Real Madrid history, most of – if not all – of their great players were booed. They are very fickle fans. Raul, Cristiano Ronaldo, Brazilian Ronaldo, Zidane – they got booed at some stage of their careers and I just think it’s wrong. It’s unbelievable”.
“It is about whether he enjoys playing for Real Madrid and he does at this moment. It might well be the time will come that he has had enough but maybe by coming out and saying what I think, some normal human beings at Real Madrid will think ‘hold on a minute, it is wrong what we are doing’ and maybe they will change.
“If he had gone out and had a go at Real Madrid, been rude about the club, done things that are bad, stayed up at 1am – none of that has happened.”
Passionate rhetoric and at a level which demands you have an opinion. On one level you could argue it’s petulant lashing out, but look closer and you’ll see that that Barnett is not just looking after his client’s present, he’s also looking to the future.
The words are carefully chosen: specific examples are given to Gareth’s achievements whilst in Spain, as well as the way he conducts himself on and off the pitch. His name is mentioned in the same breath as some of the greatest players in European football of all-time, yet not in direct comparison. Unprompted, a rebuttal that he will not be looking to leave the club to join the likes of Manchester United or Tottenham, is issued…essentially opening a shop window whilst listing his greatest assets.
No, Gareth doesn’t have a problem with the players and loves the club. The club loves him. He wants to play. At 29, he is at or around the peak for a player in his position. The “fickle” fans are in the wrong – “fickle” is not the worst slur in the world and it would be difficult to argue fans at all clubs are not prone to such black and white views. In fact, has Gareth Bale’s agent, the man who has worked with him for most of his career, the man who engineered the (still) astronomical £86 million transfer to Real Madrid in the first place, once again used publicity to conjure positives from a seemingly dreadful situation?
What do you think – PR disaster or triumph? Let us know!