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How AFL clubs deal with an internal crisis



AFL players represent the club they play for both on and off the field so when something goes wrong, the reputation of an AFL club can be called into question. Similar to a celebrity endorser, the actions of an AFL player can have a detrimental impact on the AFL and the club in question. Being able to appropriately respond in a situation where there is considerable media scrutiny is vital to successful crisis management.

Just recently star players have become embroiled in off field incidents which left their clubs red faced. Embattled Richmond player, Dustin Martin was again in trouble after he allegedly threatened to stab a female with a chopstick at a Melbourne restaurant on the 6th of December. Whilst back in October, Jake Carlisle, after recently being traded to St Kilda, was allegedly filmed taking an illegal substance.

These types of incidents are not rare at football clubs these days. They call into question the integrity, reputation and culture of AFL clubs and therefore, should be managed before they escalate. The actions and behaviours of football players can become synonymous with the culture of the club in the eyes of the public and the media.

Responses to incidents such as these vary from club to club and are usually criticised heavily by the media. Not only does the football club come under fire but so does the AFL as an organisation. Being able to handle a crisis whilst simultaneously maintaining brand reputation and integrity is key to successful management. It might seem that after the ASADA fiasco and the current investigation into Dustin Martin’s actions, the AFL isn’t doing so well at juggling both.

The Martin case in particular has seen some ask whether the AFL and Richmond are more interested in brand management than integrity. Whilst others have labelled their response as ‘woeful’.

Bad brand management during a crisis can lead to further damage. The AFL and Richmond’s response to Dustin Martin’s latest actions has escalated a crisis that could have been successfully managed. Richmond should have taken note of St Kilda’s response to Jake Carlisle’s incident.

If your club or organisation is struggling to manage brand reputation during a crisis, Briggs Communications offers specialised services dealing with reputation and crisis management. Call us today to speak with one of our experienced consultants or book a free consultation.

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