A professional cricketer must keep in mind that as an employee of its county and a member of the ECB the player has a fiduciary duty and a policy requirement to behave properly at all times. A player must be reminded that under the ECB Conduct and Behaviour directive 3.3 it must not “conduct themselves in a manner or do any act or omission at any time which may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket or which may bring the ECB, the game of cri
MANAGING A CRICKETER’S BRAND AND RESPONSIBLY USING SOCIAL MEDIA
For the purposes of this advisory guide a reference to social media includes Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Snap Chat.
A duty to behave properly at all times
A professional cricketer must keep in mind that as an employee of its county and a member of the ECB the player has a fiduciary duty and a policy requirement to behave properly at all times. A player must be reminded that under the ECB Conduct and Behaviour directive 3.3 it must not “conduct themselves in a manner or do any act or omission at any time which may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket or which may bring the ECB, the game of cricket or any cricket or group of cricketers into disrepute”
It is worth pointing out that to behave properly is both a proactive and reactive requirement. Failure to respond can be interpreted as a breach of the ECB directive.
Benefits of responsible use of social media
In addition to being a representative of its county the cricketer is also master of its personal brand. The most successful players have carefully developed a brand using social media in a savvy and responsible way. They are careful before any posting is uploaded and they do not respond to controversial topics.
The two most popular cricketers on social media are Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni. According to information that is in the public domain Kohli earns £120,000.00 from brand endorsements. His brand endorsements include Adidas, Audi and Tissot.
A careful examination of Kohli’s social media profile shows that combined with his on field achievements his social media activity is carefully constructed in order to produce a complete package. His positive tweets, training insights, acknowledgement of fans, and clean character make him an ideal brand ambassador.
Effect of irresponsible use of social media
The repercussions for an irresponsible use of social media can have a devastating effect on a player’s brand and career. It can also bring the team and the game into disrepute.
The recent case of Alfie Barker, a non-league footballer, and his abusive tweets to Harry Arter of Bournemouth FC is an example of how a tweet can end one’s career while still in its infancy.
In addition to losing one’s job a player may end up in court for a claim of defamation. This can be really serious.
The Defamation Act 2013
A judge commented in a 2010 case that “the misuse of private information on the internet is becoming an increasingly common form of wrong doing”. It was felt that legislation needed updating to cover internet defamation. A few years later the Defamation Act 2013 was passed.
Under the 2013 Act for defamation to be proved there is a requirement for companies and individuals to show serious harm was caused as a result of a false statement.
Under the 2013 Act a player can be sued for a defamatory posting on social media within one year of the post being disseminated. This means that the threat of legal action can loom over a player for up to 12 months of the defamatory post. As some cricketers have found out, a successful action for defamation has devastating financial consequences on the unsuccessful party.
The law of defamation has now changed and covers social media. This has now exposed social media users to a law which previously did not cover the internet user. As a result, a responsible use of social must be adopted by professional cricketers. A negligent use can have an adverse impact upon a club’s image. From a player’s perspective such negligence can harm its reputation and make its brand toxic for endorsements.
It is advisable that counties and the ECB train their cricketers in responsible social media use.
At GloverPriest we have specialist sports lawyers who can advise professional bodies and players on commercial matters.
For further information on anything contained in this guide please contact our Head of Commercial, Ifzal Akhtar