Further notes on fan power

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.

  1. Fans winning small battles as voices get louder
  2. Cardiff City football fans given vote on shorts colour
  3. Nicolites electronic cigarettes
  4. Use of e-cigarettes among young people is negligible
  5. Sponsors and Controversy
  6. Bullshit Rodeo

2 thoughts on “Further notes on fan power

  1. Letsby Avenue

    Thank you for introducing me to th B******* Rodeo.
    With regard to your topic, I think it is worthy of immense debate.

    From the pre-Jimmy Hill days of “Indentured servitude” of players, I feel that ‘ethics’ were never really a part of football.
    Under-the-counter payments and the odd help to enable a player to buy a car on the never-never, rather than get a bus to work as Bobby Robson and most others did, all served to my mind that “ethics” didn’t reach the owners or boardrooms.

    They existed amongst most players themdays, and I think people like Niall Quin were probably the last of them to have beliefs and substance about themselves.

    It has taken, imo, nearly 25 years for Hill’s success in removing the maximum wage in football, for the ground to be set at level, and ethics and things like loyalty seemed to be in balance.

    A further 25 years has seen the pendulum swing even further. To the players and their fronts / agents.

    Briefly, I think a lack of ethics in football has always existed, once it was with owners and boards, now it is with players and agents. The lack of ethics seems to be where the money resides.

    Thanks again for BR

  2. Puddleglum Post author

    I agree that in football as in life in general there have always been some who have put their own interests above the good of the game. David Conn provides plenty of examples in his excellent book “The Beautiful Game?” What has changed in the last 30 years is the abandonment of the principal that some income should be shared among clubs in order to maintain competitiveness. Sharing gate receipts with the away team ended in 1983. Then in 1992 the Premiership split off from the League in order to keep most of the TV money for the big clubs.
    I’m not foolish enough to believe my preaching can turn football fans into angels but I do believe that fans need to have some values beside self interest for their own clubs.
    Thank you for your comment; it is nice to know that someone has actually read and thought about what I have written.

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