Liverpool, Raheem Sterling, and a media war

What a dispiriting couple of days this has been.

Regardless of whether you believe Raheem Sterling is or isn’t owed the wage he’s asking for or whether is or is not entitled to pursue silverware away from Liverpool, the coverage of this episode has been very draining.

And, actually, it’s also been very artificial.

What we’re seeing at the moment, is a very deliberate, very obvious attempt to devalue the player.  When this controversy first began, the tone was suspect; rather than focusing on the likely protagonist, agent Aidy Ward, the press took aim at Raheem Sterling himself, going to great efforts to portray him in a certain way.  He was greedy, he was getting above himself, he was betraying Liverpool…it was all about him.

This isn’t a new situation, of course, and anybody with even a passing interest in football will be well-versed in this sort of contract squabble.  But how unusual to see it become so personal.  How rare to see such a brazen, aggressive attempt to dirty a player’s reputation and how short-sighted that seems to be.

Sterling’s camp made the first move here - that’s important to remember - but the response from Liverpool has been absolutely poisonous and has, potentially, soured the relationship between player and club forever.

As should be blindingly obvious, the source of all these incriminating photographs will likely be FSG themselves. They figure, presumably, that by muddying the waters around Sterling’s reputation, they can either scare away interest in him or force him to re-think his contract ambitions.

The tell-tale sign?  The lack of coverage.

Where is the discussion of Liverpool’s maneuvering?  Why, given how many opinion pieces were published in the aftermath of that BBC interview, is there so little analysis of what is, quite clearly, a constructed attack?

Or, are we to believe that several different private sources - each in possession of a series of shisha/laughing gas photos - just happened to approach several daily newspapers within the same week?

Come on, they’re being leaked into the public domain at regular intervals and through carefully selected avenues.

And that’s not to judge Liverpool, either.  Player agents frequently use the press to manipulate situations and create leverage, so why shouldn’t clubs do the same?  He’s under-contract, he’s decided to stray off the reservation, and so - it could be argued - he has had this coming.   The only difference, in this particular instance, is that FSG have been far more savvy than Aidy Ward and their attempts to exert hidden influence have been much more successful.

But it’s still interesting, because it’s as vicious a response as you will ever see from a club.

If you like football, it’s an extremely depressing example of how ruthless the modern game really is, but if you’re interested in public relations tactics it’s a very intriguing saga.

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For uMAXit: Newcastle United, Mike Ashley & an act of sporting vandalism


2 Comments on "Liverpool, Raheem Sterling, and a media war"

  1. Dave Elliot | Apr 16, 2015 at 2:06 pm |

    It is patently obvious that Liverpool learned the hard way with Suarez and his team how not to handle a transfer request. Now with Raheem it is obvious that they have a mole amongst his close friends who no doubt for large sums of money is prepared to drop Raheem into deep s**t. The photos released are a blatant attempt by FSG to make any prospect of any club willing to take a £50+ million chance of him signing for another club practically zero. They have already stated they will ensure he plays out the final 2 years of his contract. Also to make his relationship with the fans fairly toxic. It would also appear that Ibe, a great prospect, is also being drawn into the FSG web. Raheem may be naïve but he is also very street wise. There have been many rumours of players unhappy with Rogers and he has not been backward in coming forward with certain names of players who are not pulling their weight. Is it just coincidence that this has all emerged in Gerrard’s final season?

  2. FSG was in possession of personal photos of Sterling? This has got to be the ‘bizarrest’ explanation yet of this episode…
    How did FSG get hold of these photos which are then leaked out through carefully selected media outlets?
    Or is it that FSG has a policy of keeping people close to its staff so as to obtain potentially damaging material on the mentioned staff!!!!
    Cold war drama this!!!

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