13/12/2013

Fans Deserve Respect

Hull City supporters opposing the club’s potential name modification to “Hull City Tigers” are urging the FA to protect the heritage of their club.

Once again in the world of football, we are seeing fans wishes being ignored by their owners. At a time when ticket prices are constantly increasing, it is more important than ever to show loyal and adoring supporters respect.
Die when they want..


Assem Allam’s statement regarding the “City Till I Die” chants, is one that certainly lacks respect. The owner of Hull controversially stated that the fans responsible for those chants could “die when they want” and that those who displayed banners were “hooligans” who were responsible for distracting the players.

After a glorious season which saw the club earn promotion, the tables have well and truly turned with the fans being neglected.

It’s a situation which could have been avoided had the owner considered the effect of a name change on the fans, and realised that while he is the one that injects money into the outfit, it is a club that belongs to the fans. Not just him.

Dave Whelan once said that he was not the owner of Wigan, but a custodian of the club and that the fans were the real owners. This is a statement that ought to ring true for all clubs. A football club ought to belong to the community, to the people who have loved it for far longer than those who buy it with financial interests.

It is disappointing that we have come to a stage in football where owners adopt the belief that they can do whatever they wish with a football club on the grounds of global expansion, or in attempts to increase profit, making decisions with no regard for the fans that have spent their lives supporting the club.

It is an age where we are seeing managers being sacked by the day because they have not exceeded the often unrealistic expectations set by the owners, we are seeing weak candidates who are not necessarily worthy of the responsibilities of their job being employed, and we’re seeing massive changes to the traditional and core values of historic football clubs.

As the oligarchs continue to monopolise the industry, fans are expected to just sit back and be grateful for the money invested into their clubs. This would not be as much as a problem if the clubs were well and truly belonging to the fans. But as owners tear them apart, and revamp them into “new” clubs, it is difficult for fans to take.

We have seen the breakdown of fan owner relationships occur at numerous clubs, Portsmouth, Coventry City, Birmingham, Blackburn Rovers, Cardiff City and now Hull City. Something needs to be done about it.

This vicious circle always comes back to the need for fans to have some involvement in the running of their clubs. When you examine the Bundesliga in comparison to the Football League, while it may not be perfect, it is still a great example of a league where fans are, on the whole, fairly happy.

In the Football League, however, this is not the case. Fans are having to put up with completely incompetent owners who have no care, or regard for the history and traditions of these clubs. It is not necessarily a problem to do with “foreign owners”, but more a problem of incompetence. It is fair to say that the “fit and proper” test regulated by the FA is simply not working, as more and more football clubs are being exposed to owners who aren’t running the clubs in a fit and proper manner.

This is something the FA has to take responsibility for. As a Blackburn Rovers fan, I was horrified at the abuse that was directed towards the fans of my club as they protested against the owners, and the employees they were hiring to run the club. It was not fair – fans of a club do not get to choose who owns their club, or who manages their club. They have to deal with it.

When it all goes wrong, when a club dips into administration, or is put under a transfer embargo, or forced to suffer a ground share, or experiences two or three successive relegations, the owners can leave. They could sell up if they wanted to.

A fan can’t do that. A fan cannot just abandon their club in times of hardship, fans are the people who stick around and pick up the pieces when the outfit implodes.

Yet with all this in mind, fans are the people who don’t get a say. They don’t get to voice their opinions. Something needs to change.

Whether this be the FA implementing an updated regulatory system to perform checks on prospective owners, or whether they begin to make the correct decisions in situations such as the one Hull City find themselves in, something definitely needs to change.

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