What Sir Alex Ferguson and Prince Philip have in common

What Sir Alex Ferguson and Prince Philip have in common

The new football season is about to get under way after a short break for a spot of cricket. And one of the burning questions is just how many more football reporters Sir Alex Ferguson will be rude and aggressive to?It is, after all, only a couple of months since his last hair-dryer blast after the European Cup Final, directed at ITV reporter Gabriel Clark. He’s refused to speak to the BBC’s Match of the Day for years, and he’s even had a set-to with lovely, inoffensive John Motson. How dare he?

Almost every other executive in any other line of business is keen to build harmonious relationships with journalists. But not Fergie. In fact, being rude to journalists is one of the few things that he has in common with Prince Philip, who was almost laughably offensive to Fiona Bruce when she interviewed him to mark his 90th birthday. (Mind you, she was ill-advised to ask so many “How did that make you feel?” questions, when he so obviously responds better to factual ones.)

Prince Philip is old enough not to care about what journalists think of him.  But Ferguson, even at 69, is still in his managerial prime. So how does he get away with it? Simple. Manchester United’s consistent success and passionate, global following means that journalists need him much more than he needs them. The same, of course, goes for managers of other top football clubs, but Ferguson appears to have a particularly short fuse and well-developed inclination to intimidate.

So Ferguson and Philip are among the few who can get away with it. But for executives and spokespeople from all other organisations – who need the media at least as much as the media needs them – the rule when doing interviews is straightforward: try to be nice.

Article date

August 8th, 2011

Robert Taylor

Media Trainer


My main passion is media training, and I’m proud to be one of the UK’s most experienced and successful trainers in this field.

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