Janina Lim – Fourth Estate Contributor
United States (4E) – As sales of its pizza products dip in the third quarter, Papa John’s International Inc. puts the finger of blame on National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell’s weak management over the league’s national-anthem controversy.
“The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction,” Papa John’s Founder John Schnatter, who serves as the pizza chain’s chairman and chief executive officer, said on a conference call.
“This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” he added.
Shares of the Louisville, Kentucky-based firm dropped to its lowest in eight months on Wednesday after same-store sales in the July to September quarter failed to meet analysts’ estimates.
“NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders,” Schnatter added as Papa John’s also slashed its 2017 forecasts on revenue and profit.
The executive was referring to the controversy surrounding NFL football players’ protest of kneeling down during the national anthem which began last season.
The movement intended to demonstrate opposition against racial inequality and police brutality by Colin Kaepernick, then the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, has led to calls for a boycott which brough about concerns among league sponsors.
This has even drawn tweets from President Donald Trump, who called for owners to fire or bench players who refuse to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
As such, ratings for the NFL landed this year in negative territory which presumably translates to less people catching a glimpse of Papa John’s ads, in turn, reducing chances that people will be led to torder their pizzas.
“Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership,” added Schnatter who donated to Trump’s campaign and has railed against government regulations.
Papa John’s has been the NFL’s official pizza sponsor since 2010.
“Like many sponsors, we’re in touch with the NFL. Once the issue is resolved, we’re optimistic the NFL’s best years are ahead.”
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