I have just read an article1 on WSC, about two minor victories for fans. The first was for Cardiff fans whose protests over the new kit led to the club giving season ticket holders a say on the colour of the shorts for their Premier League kit2. They weren’t given the option of changing back to their traditional blue tops but even a small victory is better than nothing.
The other victory was for Bolton Wanderers fans who condemned the club’s decision to have a pay-day loan company as their shirt sponsor. Local MP’s and a couple of other sponsors sided with the fans and the club found a new sponsor.
I doubt that Birmingham City fans will organise a similar protest though some are concerned about having Nicolites as our shirt sponsor. I too have concerns; they seem to be marketed as medical aids to stop smoking3 and I don’t like the advertising of medicines. I’ve lived in the USA, which allows advertising of prescription drugs, and seen too many TV commercials urging viewers to put pressure on their doctors to prescribe particular brands. I am somewhat reassured by the ASH research4 that found that hardly any young people use e-cigarettes; I hope this means that having Nicolites ads on players shirts is unlikely to make children want to try them.
Daniel, writing on Often Partisan about the controversy over selecting Nicolites as sponsors, wrote that there seems to be no place for ethics within football anymore5. I’m afraid there is some truth in that statement. So many seem to regard success as the be all and end all and are willing to accept anything that helps their team win games. This attitude is brilliantly portrayed in a cartoon on the Sunshine Room site6 that shows a fan willing to accept anything the owners do including moving the club to Chad and having ‘Break a Leg Payday Loans’ as sponsor. It’s a funny cartoon and I recommend that you click on the link to Bullshit Rodeo and look at it. But when you have looked and laughed, think about the serious point that it’s making. Are you willing to accept anything that might bring success for the club you support or do you believe that ethics should still have a place within football?
I do believe that fan power can make a difference in the way football is organised, but if we want to improve the beautiful game we shouldn’t discard ethics.