I’m an activist by nature and upbringing but there are times when I don’t feel like doing anything. My enthusiasm wanes and all actions seem useless. I feel like the man standing in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square, 25 years ago. “What’s the point?” I think, “Whatever posture I adopt, life is going to flatten me.”
I’m feeling a bit like that about Birmingham City at present. It has been three years since we were relegated and everything fell apart. The money laundering trial went on for ages, efforts to sell the club are still dragging on and it feels like they could go on forever.
Next week I’ll probably feel totally different. I’m going to the Supporters Summit at Wembley on Saturday, which should boost the activist in me. When I hear fans from other clubs talking about the various campaigns they’re involved in, I expect I’ll want to join in again.
One of the current football campaigns is about standing up. The Safe Standing Campaign aims to persuade the Government, football authorities and football clubs to accept the case for introducing, on a trial basis, limited sections of standing areas in selected stadiums of Premier League and Championship football clubs. I prefer to sit down to watch games but am in favour of this campaign. I think that fans who want to stand should be allowed to do so and would much prefer them to stand in a designated standing area rather than in front of my seat.
Campaigns require a critical mass of supporters to have any hope of achieving anything. I’m pretty sure that some of the things I care about in football could never be developed into campaigns because most other fans would disagree with me. For example, I think TV money and the way it is distributed has caused a lot of problems in this country. I won’t subscribe to Sky Sports or BT Sport (though I admit to watching games on friends’ TVs and in pubs) but think that it would be useless to try to organise a campaign to boycott their subscription services.
Most football fans would agree that there’s something wrong with football in this country but most of us are not sure if we can change that. My hope for the Supporters Summit is that we can reach an agreement on what the most important issues are and what we can do about them. One reason for choosing to stand up to football’s vested interests is that it feels better than just lying down and giving up. If enough people choose to stand up and support a campaign, we might just manage to stop the tanks.