Bournemouth-based Newcastle fan Barcode_Reader gives his thoughts on running a football club from the comfort of the terraces
As supporters, all of us at some point believe we’d have what it takes to run our clubs better. In a way that pleases every fan, attracts the top players and provides a winning brand of football that inspires everyone in the process. Our fellow fans would love the board because we’d speak to them on the same level, so when hard decisions did need to be made they’d all understand it was “for the good of the club”.
Sounds like bliss doesn’t it? In reality, it sounds like a load of idealistic twaddle imagined up by people who would normally wouldn’t take leave of their senses in such a way. Football is all about emotions, so it does that to you, turning you into a hopeless romantic fool that doesn’t observe the way things work in the real world. Do any of us really know the intricacies and mechanics of running our own small business, never mind an organisation that potentially has 50,000 spiritual shareholders stomping through the doors every other weekend? I’m not talking about the stuff you think you know when you argue with your mates about tactics and formations down the pub, but the really boring, necessary stuff. Contracts for cleaning the stadium toilets, repaving the car park, negotiating sponsorship deals for the advertising hoardings, and yes maintaining relations with the smarmy bank manager over that ‘difficult’ loan you got for the new striker.
‘Name a club that has a fan-base that truly loves their chairman’
Does it sound so appealing and easy now? The reality is that most of us love football because it represents a release from our normal, mundane day to day struggles. You buy your ticket, you buy a shirt and apart from the joy-tinged pain endured from result to result it’s not supposed to be a full-time job. Most chairman end up being the most bitter, soul-destroyed human beings towards football once their thankless tenure comes to an end and it can’t be any wonder.
Name a club that has a fan-base that truly loves their chairman, owner or whatever. Even if they begrudgingly think they are ok today, they’ll change their mind pretty quick when the going gets a bit tougher. I’m a Newcastle United fan of some 15+ years and so my own dismay at the current regime at St. James’ Park has some synergy with the Eddie Mitchell situation at AFC Bournemouth. Yeah so the gripes might be on different scales slightly, the stakes possibly a tad higher at this point in time but the same air of discontent exists.
I sympathise with what’s going on at Dean Court and listened to the recent fans forum, where supporters at least got a chance to pitch questions to the owner – even if they didn’t much like the answers. However, I’ve also tried to keep a level head about what it must really mean to take on the kinds of responsibilities the likes of Mitchell and Ashley face. Even with best interests at heart, I don’t know that I could confidently do the job I would want to do or whether that job would even be possible. I’m only guessing at some of the adversities running my football club would bring, and there are sure to be a whole load more once you actually look behind the scenes. I’m not defending either board necessarily and both have done a lot to make things harder on themselves, but it make the debate more constructive when we acknowledge that it’s a tougher prospect than we imagine it to be.
If you’re still unconvinced, I’ll leave it like this. The next time you find yourself complaining about your actual job and the guys that run your workplace, have a serious think about how you’d do things better and whether you would have the effort to actually try. Suddenly the prospect of going home on time and probably watching the football instead sounds a far more attractive option…
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