Social media, in particular Twitter, has become known for its ability to break news at lightning speed. For that reason, it’s wise for all businesses and organisations to embrace it.
There remain some cases, however, when it’s not appropriate to go straight to Twitter without making sure that the people most affected by the news are in the know first, as a non-league football club has learned over the last few days.
National League North side Nuneaton Borough (who coincidentally officially changed their name from Nuneaton Town yesterday) tweeted last Friday that they had appointed a new manager in former Barnsley player Nicky Eaden.
— Nuneaton Borough F.C. (@NuneatonBoroFC) June 15, 2018
The only problem was that their existing manager was not aware that he had been replaced. Gary Charles, the former Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa player, tweeted in the small hours of Saturday morning to say that the managerial change at the Warwickshire club was news to him.
Found out through Twitter that I am no longer manager at Nuneaton Borough FC. Not had any contact with the chairman to let me know so I just want to say thank you to the fans for your fantastic support, to the players and staff I wish you all the best for future. Gary👍
— Gary Charles (Ex Professional Footballer) (@GaryCharlesFRJ) June 16, 2018
The mix-up prompted Nuneaton to issue a brief statement clarifying the managerial status, expressing regret at the confusion over a situation the club believed to be clear.
Though it’s unusual for a football manager to learn of his fate via social media, miscommunication amid managerial changeovers has been cropping up for years, and predates the arrival of platforms like Twitter. In 1997, Bruce Rioch found out he had been dismissed by Queens Park Rangers via the BBC teletext service Ceefax. Even more surreal was the case of Gus Poyet’s sacking from Brighton & Hove Albion in 2013, which the Uruguayan learned of while working as a BBC pundit during the Confederations Cup of that year.
More recently, in what was arguably the nadir of a dismal 2017/18 season for our local club Chester, the club attracted a negative social media reaction after parting ways with manager Marcus Bignot in an exchange that took place in the car park of a sport club after a youth team game. Bignot was already due to leave at the end of the season, and the club’s board did apologise for the handling of the affair.
These stories show that communication blunders can happen, and always have done, but in the age of social media, they become magnified. As soon as news breaks, there is a permanent record of it and the public’s reaction. For that reason, social media, while a vital communication tool in 2018, needs to be handled with care and nothing should be committed to the Twitterverse until it is finalised and understood by everybody it concerns.