Football clubs listen to fans.
We might not like to believe it, because they don’t always do or say what we want them to as a result, but the evidence is there.
Manchester United this week revoked the season ticket of one of their fans. The person in question had made offensive comments about disabled supporters after the club announced they would be moving some fans to another area of the ground to make room for additional disabled facilities.
The club listened to what was being said on twitter, and reacted as they saw fit.
Arsenal clearly also monitor fan sentiment on social media, as well as the press, as they’re well aware of who is under fire at any given time. Why else would they frequently feature a “best of the blogs” article which supports a player under fire?
And when Sir Chips Keswick released a brief but succinct statement this week, he intimated that the club heard the fan unrest over results, performances, and ultimately the manager’s job. But in equal turn, he made it abundantly clear that the club will not allow itself to be bullied into decisions it believes are wrong.
A closer look at that statement
Released in the aftermath of the Bayern game, the full statement read:
“We are fully aware of the attention currently focused on the club and understand the debate. We respect that fans are entitled to their different individual opinions but we will always run this great club with its best long-term interests at heart.
Arsene has a contract until the end of the season. Any decisions will be made by us mutually and communicated at the right time in the right way.”
He might as well have released a statement which said, “we’ve heard you, but we don’t agree with you. Go home. But thanks for your interest in our affairs.”
And that’s the point – as supporters, we are important stakeholders in the club. We have a right to be heard. But we do not have a right to make demands. Nor do we have the right to throw our toys out the proverbial pram when the club don’t agree with us.
Throwing a tantrum
Bayern held up a banner on Tuesday night: “without fans, football is not worth a penny” and they’re spot on. Fans are the lifeblood of a club, and without us a club would wither and die. We do deserve to be heard.
But a lot of those protesting this week have claimed it’s because the club is not listening to the opinions of those fans. No, they heard you, they just don’t agree with you.
Protesting does not help to further articulate that unrest, it just looks childish.
It’s like the toddler on my train, as I write this, who’s lying face down, punching the floor and bawling his eyes out because his mum won’t let him have another bag of crisps. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s hungry and his mum is torturing him. Maybe he’s not, and he’s just grumpy because he hasn’t got what he wanted, what he demanded.
Either way, it’s her decision to make.
She’s listened to him, but she has ultimately decided that she doesn’t agree with him. Maybe she’ll let him have another bag of crisps later, or maybe she’ll get him a bag of apple slices from the buffet cart which would, ultimately, be better for him.
Context is important
Whether or not you think Arsene is doing a good job, he’s hardly doing a disastrous one.
We might not be happy with how things are going at the moment, but a quick glance across London does put everything into perspective. Leyton Orient’s owner has driven them to the brink of extinction over an unpaid tax bill.
Now that’s the kind of thing worth protesting over.
Not because you’re not getting your own way.
So Sir Chips Keswick didn’t put it quite so bluntly, but to anyone planning another pathetic protest:
They’ve heard you. They don’t agree with you. Go home.