- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Papa John‘s, an official sponsor of the National Football League, is blaming its third-quarter sales slump on the league’s poor leadership in handling the national anthem protests.

Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter said the league and its leadership “hurt” the company by not resolving the issue with protesting athletes earlier.

“The NFL has been a long and valued partner over the years, but we are certainly disappointed that NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation to the satisfaction of all parties,” Mr. Schnatter said during an earnings call Wednesday, Business Insider reported. “This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.”

“Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership,” he said. “The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country.”

Papa John’s reported same-store sales grew 1 percent in the third quarter, falling short of analyst expectations of a 1.4-percent rise, CNBC reported. The company has lowered it’s North American same-store sales prediction for the year to 1.5 percent.

Papa John’s president and chief operating officer Steve Ritchie reportedly said on the call that the company expected the decline “to persist unless a solution is put in place” by the NFL, which has seen a significant decline in viewership.

Papa John’s responded by pulling some of its planned commercials from NFL games this season, Mr. Ritchie said.

Shares of the pizza chain fell more than 11 percent on Wednesday, CNBC reported.

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