Did Manchester United Ban Players From Using Social Networks… Or Alert People To Fake Accounts?

from the and-does-either-make-sense dept

ethorad alerts us to the news that the UK football/soccer club Manchester United put out a statement insisting that none of its players use any social network accounts. The club apparently says that it’s just stating a fact — to stop people from thinking they’re communicating with real players when they’re actually talking to impostors — rather than forcing the players off of social networks. However, the BBC notes that there were three ManU players who were believed to have real Twitter accounts, and all have suddenly disappeared — which suggests the real issue is that ManU banned players from using social networks to connect with fans. If that’s true, it seems incredibly short-sighted. Yes, players need to be careful when communicating publicly, but blocking them off entirely doesn’t help make fans any more loyal.

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Comments on “Did Manchester United Ban Players From Using Social Networks… Or Alert People To Fake Accounts?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Make fans any more loyal? I struggle to see how having a Twitter account could make fans more loyal. In fact in several cases its just made fans disloyal, Ryan Babel and Defoe being two examples. Loyalties lie with clubs, not individual footballers so I struggle to see where the loyalty aspect is coming from. Whether Manchester United have banned social networking is a choice entirely up to them as players may make comments that reflect badly upon the club etc. They have been media trained through the club in most aspects but with online social networking a lot seem to see it as a different medium entirely, it’s the same thing when the media report on whatever you say.

Jerry Leichter (profile) says:

Loyalty to who?

I can understand the rationale. (I don’t particularly agree with it, but it’s understandable.) The team wants loyalty to the *team*, not to the individual players. There’s a kind of “co-opetition” between individual stars and the teams they play on. On the one hand, stars bring fans to the games, which is what makes teams money – so the teams want to build up stars. On the other, when stars build up enough of a following independent of the team that they can walk to another team and take their followers with them, they get a very strong bargaining position relative to the team.

The conflict plays out in all sports. Look at baseball in the US. For years, the teams had complete control on who could play where. Salaries remained low, even for the biggest stars. Then the teams were forced to allow free agency. Salaries for the stars exploded. The teams no longer captured all the profit.

From the point of view of an intelligent team, the right thing to do is to somehow have an official team presence for its stars. They want fans interested and following – but in a way that’s tied primarily to the team, and secondarily to the player.

Now, what they *want* and what they can, in practice, *get* are two very different things. Since it isn’t clear they can retain control over things like Twitter followers, the natural response is “live without ’em”.

— Jerry

The Gaffer (user link) says:

The original story that revealed the Man United players who had their Twitter and Facebook accounts shut down can be read here: http://www.epltalk.com/man-united-shuts-down-twitter-and-facebook-accounts-for-its-footballers/14922

I find it curious that the Manchester United spokesperson in the BBC article says that “it wouldn’t have been us that stopped them” from using Twitter and Facebook. So if it wasn’t Man United, who was it? Are the players smart enough to know how to suspend their Twitter accounts and wipe all of the content from their Facebook walls? I doubt it.

As a follow-up to my original investigative article, I published a post yesterday which lists 30 Premier League footballers who do have currently active Twitter and Facebook accounts. That post can be found here: http://www.epltalk.com/list-of-30-premier-league-footballers-on-twitter-and-facebook/15242

The Gaffer

Dave (profile) says:

Greeen & Gold protests?

I wonder if this might have something to do with the ongoing “Green & Gold” protests against Malcolm Glazer, Man United’s American owner who bought the club with borrowed money, then saddled the club with the entire debt and raised the price of everything to pay it off, which angered lot of supporters. Perhaps Glazer is trying to cut off any potential communication between players and protesters, which might result in someone saying something stupid that gets broadcast to the world. (Tom Hicks Jr. resigned from the Liverpool FC board recently after sending a profanity-laced email in reply to a fan.)

Sam (profile) says:

You obviously are not a red devils supporter then.

Anyone who wants to know what any of the marquee players at Man Yoo are up to can just read the tabloids honestly. Supporters of Manchester United are generally more interested in the performance of the club than being a ‘friend’ of any of the players on a purely superficial level.

Just ask any of the 12 year old kids walking around Old Trafford on a game day with their six packs of beer if they care what “party Dimitar” had for breakfast.

Red Devils supporters (in manchester anyway) are predominantly club over country types. Meaning they care more about their club winning trophies than England winning the world cup. I’d say their loyalty isn’t going anywhere.

Jake (user link) says:

Until one of those players actually goes on record and confirms he used to have a Twitter account, I’m going to give Manchester United the benefit of the doubt. Sport isn’t a leg-up to a college education in Britain the way it is in the States -sporting scholarships are pretty much unheard of here- so there’s less incentive for youngsters whose main ambition isn’t to go professional to spend time on the field or track instead of studying.

And much as it pains me to admit it, there’s a certain amount of truth in the stereotypical view of an inverse ratio of intelligence to enthusiasm for sport. I wouldn’t credit your typical Premiership footballer with the wit to make use of Twitter; as my late grandfather once put it, “their brains are in their feet.”

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