Piers Morgan’s Ronaldo interview sends Man United’s brand perceptions tumbling
November 28th, 2022, Stephan Shakespeare

Piers Morgan’s Ronaldo interview sends Man United’s brand perceptions tumbling

Cristiano Ronaldo’s bust-up with Manchester United is now over, with player and club mutually agreeing to terminate his contract following the forward’s high-profile interview with TalkTV’s Piers Morgan. During the exchange with Morgan, he laid into manager Erik Ten Hag and previous interim manager Ralf Rangnick, and ultimately claimed that the club had experienced “no evolution” since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013.

According to YouGov FootballIndex, the row had an immediate effect on Manchester United’s brand perceptions. Buzz scores, which measure whether fans have heard something positive or negative about a football club, plummeted 17.5 points (from -1.4 to -18.9) between 13 November – the day before the first part of the interview was published – and 20 November.


Beyond negative headlines, Ronaldo’s criticism stung Manchester United in other areas. The week saw a decline in fan perceptions of the club’s management, with Quality scores falling from -3.7 to -15.5 (-11.8), and in Satisfaction scores, which deteriorated from 6.0 to -1.1 (-7.1).

Consideration scores, which measure whether fans think of a club as likable or unlikable, also worsened from 17.0 to 11.6 (-5.4). The United legend’s interventions ultimately halved the club’s Index scores, which went from 9.7 on 13 November to 4.7 a week later (-5.0).

An aging player on a substantial salary was always going to pose some commercial risk, but this may well end up being another in a list of short-term problems (such as Harry Maguire’s holiday bust-up or its plans to join the European Super League) that the club eventually recovers from.

But while United and Ronaldo and United have now parted ways, fans may hope that the management takes some lessons from this controversy. United are not the dominant force they were when Ronaldo left in 2009. But whatever the nostalgia value of re-signing the Portuguese megastar, he is no longer in his pomp either – and with a reputation for putting “personal targets” ahead of the team, this may have been an awkward match from the beginning.