Gibson's meddling may be his undoing

The Spin Doctor
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The Independent Online

Sven Goran Eriksson probably had mixed feelings when Colin Gibson was appointed as the Football Association's new £200,000-a-year director of communications.

Sven Goran Eriksson probably had mixed feelings when Colin Gibson was appointed as the Football Association's new £200,000-a-year director of communications.

After all, here was a man who, as the sports editor of the Daily Mail, had overseen such headlines as "Why FA chiefs must replace Sven" and "He cheated on Nancy ... now is Sven cheating on England?"

Gibson was employed by the FA for one reason: Mark Palios, then chief executive, felt the organisation was always on the back foot in its dealings with the media - and more specifically the written press. In Gibson, here was a man who had worked his way up from being a football reporter on the Daily Mail, to become its sports editor.

"Gibbo", was one of "them". And for Palios he was someone who knew what the press were after and who could anticipate their agendas - and head off some of the more damaging ones. It is that proactive approach that has proved fatal.

Gibson, as a journalist, had been critical of the distance that had grown between the players and the press. His argument was that unfamiliarity had bred contempt and this led to more headlines - such as "Traitors", which he published at the Mail during the stand-off between the England players and the FA over the Rio Ferdinand saga.

It was that event, and the call up and sending home of Alan Smith when he was facing a possible police charge, that prompted Palios to employ Gibson last autumn. The relationship between the players and the media has improved since Gibson's arrival, most noticeably during Euro 2004. But Gibson was rumoured to be behind floating the idea, which was reported in the press, of replacing Eriksson with Celtic's Martin O'Neill.

All that proved to do was panic the FA into giving Eriksson a ridiculously lucrative contract when Chelsea came calling. Gibson himself was tipped to join Chelsea as director of communications before he went to the FA last year. That decision - along with a few others - is one that Gibson may well be regretting right now.

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