sunderland, di canio and the pr perspective

So, appointing a manager with a history of making comments about fascism was never entirely a smart move. But did Premiership Sunderland make a tricky situation that bit harder?

by Eva Duffy

Last Monday was never going to be an average day in the office for communications manager Louise Wanless.

That Saturday her employers, Sunderland Association Football Club, had sacked The Nicest Man in Football™ Martin O'Neill after a defeat to Manchester United, the club’s eighth game without a win which saw the team precariously balanced just above the relegation zone.

The announcement of Paolo Di Canio as the new manager was always going to mean a challenging time for the club’s press office. Even as a player, controversy was never far. Most infamously, in 1998  he earned universal condemnation, an 11-match ban and a £10,000 fine when he pushed a referee during a Sheffield Wednesday fixture against Arsenal, a game I attended and left with a memory of the collective gasp of shock that reverberated around the stadium as the ref toppled backwards in slow motion. 

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