West Ham sponsor Betway apologises for tweet criticising Michail Antonio
West Ham United's official shirt sponsor, Betway, has apologised for criticising Michail Antonio on social media during the club’s Premier League season opener.
The betting firm posted a scathing comment on the midfielder’s performance in defence as the team lost 2-1 to Chelsea on Monday night (15 August) with Antonio giving away a penalty in the process.
Antonio has been an accident waiting to happen in defence, #WHUFC fans will hope that's the end of the experiment. pic.twitter.com/IeGp4zz1qM
— betway (@betway) August 15, 2016
Sponsors are increasingly experimenting with new ways to engage with fans across social in an effort to be seen aligning their own interests with those of the fans. However Betway’s efforts failed to strike a chord with the club, which was understood to have been upset with the criticism.
Following the post, West Ham and Betway held a conference call the following day to discuss the tweet.
The betting firm has since apologised for the comment, telling Sky Sports News that, while they have a team of passionate writers who provide impartial opinion across all sports, the tweet regarding Antonio was “inappropriate in light of the company's relationship with West Ham”.
Misha Sher, Head of Sport and Entertainment at MediaCom, highlighted the importance for brands to “be authentic and connect with the fans” but warned that they should “never publicly criticize or question decisions of the manager”.
“There is nothing to be gained from this other than potentially alienating the club and its fans. Fans want to know that brands associated with the football club are behind the team 100%, unless the brand’s image is in some way compromised by the behaviour of a player. It was good to see Betway quickly resolve this with an apology, avoiding any further undue publicity.
Betway agreed a £20m three year shirt sponsorship deal with West Ham in February last year and has built on this with its Academy of Football series which aims to deliver value beyond awareness by offering fans a unique insight into their club.