There are more Blues fan groups and websites than I can keep track of. The club lists 36 official supporters’ clubs on their site1 and there are various other unofficial groups in addition to those. There’s also a great clutter of forums and blogs, including this one, that aren’t associated with any particular fan group. I notice that one page on the Forza Blues site is now a forum called Blues Liaison Collective2, which sounds like an attempt to get Blues fans to talk to each other. It will be interesting to see how that works out; the site is under construction at present.
If ever there was a time when Blues fans needed to talk to each other, this is it. We are at a low point in the history of BCFC as it is selling players to get enough cash to keep going. In a recent article3 Colin Tattum lamented the sale of Nathan Redmond and expressed the hope that the club will be sold soon. I think that most fans feel the same way and many would agree with Colin that “people from the region, with a feel for the club and what it means, would be the preferred type of new owners.”
I don’t think that there’s a great deal that ordinary fans can do to influence the sale of the club. However it is possible that we could make some difference. If the rumours are true and there are some potential buyers around, a club with a large and passionate fanbase would be a more attractive proposition than one whose fans are dispirited and drifting away. If the different fans groups can communicate and co-operate then it should be possible to convey the message that there are a lot of fans who care about the future of the club and will continue to support it.
Getting different fans groups to co-operate may not be the easiest of tasks but it seems that at least one group is going to attempt it. Blues Trust Board has appointed a Supporter Engagement Advisor to assist it “in reaching out to supporter groups and the wider fan base.”4 I don’t know if they have a plan already worked out or if they are still open to suggestions but here is what I would suggest.
- Wherever possible, talk to people rather than sending emails or other electronic communications.
- Be prepared to listen as well as to talk.
- Start by trying to agree on one thing and don’t expect others to agree with the whole Blues Trust philosophy or to join the trust. What you do shouldn’t just be a membership drive in disguise.
- Once you’ve reached some agreement, decide on a way that fans can show their support.
There surely has to be something that the majority of Blues fans can agree on. I personally would like to agree on some brief statement such as: “We want owners who care about the club as much as we do.” or “We’ll support any new owner(s) that bring stability to the club.” I think the statement will probably have to be a sentence rather than a paragraph as the longer it is the harder it will be to reach agreement across the fanbase.
The way that fans show support for the agreed statement should be something simple such as getting fans to clap at a certain time in a game, possibly for the 22nd minute, to symbolise the fact that we don’t want to have to keep selling our young talent as we sold Redmond. We want to be able to enjoy watching young players develop without worrying that they will get sold if they do too well. Maybe we could use Colin Tattum’s headline as our statement; it’s a bit snappier than the sentences I thought up. Maybe we could just agree: “The selling has to stop.”