Friday, December 29, 2006

From a concerned fan

As well as the comments that get posted up on the site (keep them coming by the way), from time to time I also receive a number of emails as well.

I received one in particular which I thought would be worth sharing with the rest of you out there, so having agreed that I could post it up here it is:


For as long as I have been aware of City fanzines I have been pretty much obsessed by them. I started buying all the ones available when I was around 13 or 14 and thought the mixture of irreverence, foul mouth ranting and well written analysis was a great read, even more so for a young teenager always impressed with an unnecessary bit of swearing.

Over the years these publications have come and gone, some have stood the test of time (King of the Kippax) whilst others are seemingly gone and sadly missed (Chips and Gravy), but all of them provide, or have provided an outlet for frustrated fans and an opportunity for others to read about and sympathise with like-minded souls. Not everything you read will be to you taste but it’s a fanzine, you accept that this is one person’s view and move on without getting too irate about it.

I always fancied myself as a bit of a fanzine writer but didn’t really know where to start. I enjoyed reading City ‘til I Cry and started writing letters to the Ed which he kindly printed, after that the letters became articles and then he kindly gave me my own column.


In recent times I have not contributed as much as I would have liked for a variety of reasons, namely increased pressure at work, the purchase of my first house and the lack of much to talk about on the field. I don’t want to go over old ground and I am acutely aware that I have made it known that I do not rate the manager, most of the players, the Chairman and the majority of the Manchester City board and, with so little else to write about, I don’t want every article to ram these points home again and again.

I think back to a lot of my early articles which were printed during the Royle era and, eventhough I was not a massive Royle fan, a lot those articles were extolling the virtues of being a match going City fan. It’s easy for me to forget how much I loved being in the North Stand surrounded by rabid Blues all making a marvellous din and winding the opposition fans up. The bar at half-time was borderline unsafe but who gave a fuck? I was with my mates and I was having a laugh. It was how football was supposed to be.


How times have changed.

Where in the past I would defend City against anyone at any cost, I now find myself telling non-Blues or non-match going Blues how shit the club is at present. In the past I would always hark back to the Division Two days as an example of how great the fans were in adversity and how much better we were in comparison with the Geordies.

The support we got in that season will never be bettered by any club in my opinion but do you really think we would equal those crowds in The Championship next season? It’s arguable but I seriously doubt it. If it wasn’t for a bit of ‘creativity’ with the attendance figures this season (season ticket holders being counted despite them being in the boozer…allegedly) I think you might find that the attendances for the Middlesbrough and Fulham games were actually less than the home game against Macclesfield in the 3rd tier of the English game. So what do you think we’d be able to muster after another relegation this season? Frightening.

So what’s happened? Why have people who stuck by City through some gruesome times suddenly had enough when we are seemingly better off than many previous seasons (nice ground, in the top-flight, England internationals in the side, Academy products in the side)? Quite simply, City fans don’t feel a part of the club anymore. Now it’s easy to pin the blame on the new stadium but it isn’t that. When the club won’t even give the fans an input into the style of the away kit or they insist on charging full wack for a League Cup game against Arsenal reserves (that should NEVER be forgotten by the way) then you know there’s a problem.


It is not difficult to build some bridges between the club and the fans but the current regime has kept us at arm’s length throughout its tenure and is now paying the price for it. More and more people are considering life without a season ticket and with football so accessible through foreign TV channels in this day and age, it’s isn’t really that much of a sacrifice anymore. So if there aren’t some serious reductions in season tickets in March the average crowds next season, even if we stay in the Premiership, could be around the 25, 000 mark. You might think that preposterous but let’s have a look at the facts. The hardcore we had at City was around the 30 000 mark and I think we took this 30 000 with us to the new stadium and the crowds were bolstered by the ‘new breed’ to around 45 000. Now the crowds are plummeting and I initially thought we could depend on the 30 000 to always be there but now I’m not so sure. People are seriously disillusioned with City and the modern game as a whole and lads and families who have renewed without a second’s thought in the past are wondering if the financial outlay, which is significant for most, is really worth it, and I really don’t think a figure of 5000 ‘regulars’ not renewing is wide of the mark.

If happy clappys take the opinion that “We’re better off without them!” then they deserve a slap. These people made the club and if they decide to turn their back on the club something is badly wrong with the way it is being run and the way they, as paying customers, are being treated. They should not be sarcastically waved goodbye but they should intercepted by the Chairman himself, sat down in his plush office, given a large brandy and asked for their opinions on where he and his colleagues are going wrong. We are not a club where if one person goes he will be replaced by another. When they’re gone they’re gone, because believe me, we are not Boro or Villa fans who come and go as they please from one week to the next, it’s all or nothing with us. Those crowds in the Div. Two were not just driven by loyalty, it was also stubbornness, a stubbornness that meant that we weren’t going to be driven away by a football team that was not really worthy of our support. However, this stubbornness will also lead to many walking away, and refusing to come back come what may.

So in this current climate what do the Club, in its infinite wisdom, manage to do? They decide to ruin the relationship between Club and fans even further by taking umbrage at an article on an independent City website and threatening legal action against the website and the author of the piece. Genius. As I’ve been tapping away on my computer criticising every man and his dog I’ve often wondered if the club reads the fanzines and if, if exception was taken, they would consider legal action.


Yet I’ve always assumed that even if they do read the articles, they take the opinion that these fans are letting off steam and, naively, I thought that they might even pick up some tips on where they are going wrong. How wrong could I be? It now appears that the club is spoiling for a fight and doesn’t care who it is with. This is potentially the single most damaging thing the club has done in my eyes in recent memory. I am absolutely seething and I wasn’t even involved!! How dare they stifle the free speech of a support that has actually been relatively supportive of the current board despite its arguable incompetence in running the club. I know, I know, “£20m of his own money blah blah blah…” but as SoulBoyftr stated brilliantly on Manchesteronline about this matter,(to paraphrase) “If I give my son £100 and he decides to spend it on drink or drugs and I don’t monitor the situation and check what he’s doing with it, does that make me a good parent?” Do you see the link?

So if this is now the sign of things to come and the club is going to start censoring the thoughts of writers on City’s independent websites and in City’s fanzines then that’s fine gentleman, but if you want a fight, you’ll get a fight. A lot of these people contributing to these sites and publications are intelligent and in some cases very influential people. If steam can’t be let off in this manner than there are other ways, and I don’t really think mass demonstrations outside the ground are going to look too good to prospective purchasers are they? I realise that this means that the current board and Chairman would remain for the foreseeable future but I have never asked for the resignation of the Chairman because I realise how much the club owe him financially and it isn’t that easy for him to just step down. All I’ve asked for in recent years is that the club is run better, and surely the expert business minds on the board can manage this? I don’t particularly want a foreign owner because following the club might well become even less enjoyable at present. It’s a tricky situation which might well become a hopeless situation if things aren’t altered at the top very quickly.

I wrote to the Chairman towards the end of last season to make him aware of the current disillusionment of City fans with the Club and the way it is being run. The letter was not abusive and I considered the criticism constructive. I was not considered worthy of even an acknowledgement in reply. All that I got in response to my letter, and no wonder countless others, was an ‘interview’ with messrs Makin and Wardle on the official club site addressing fans’ concerns soon after. This was quite a lengthy article but to summarise;

“I’m a Blue, he’s a Blue. We’ve pumped a lot of money into this club and never took a penny out of it. Leave us alone.”

It didn’t really address any of my concerns to be honest.

The club is now in a serious mess. Conceivably, in January Barton, Richards and Distin may all leave and if this happens we will go down. We might even go down if just Distin goes but the fact we are in another relegation fight speaks volumes. The majority of professional staff at the club, both playing and non-playing (including in the board room ) are either not doing their jobs properly or are not capable of doing their jobs properly. One example; how was the decision to let Riera and Musampa go made? This is how it should have gone;

SP “I think we can do better on the left than those two.”
JW “Fair comment. You got some options lined up? We need a definite as back-up because we don’t want to start the season without a left-sided player?”
SP “We’re looking at three lads and one will definitely come but I think one of them is a better player and he’s our priority.”
JW “Ok, but make sure we’re not panic buying at the last minute because that would smack of complete amateurism on our part.”
SP “No problem. I’ll sort it.”

Yet this is how it appears to have gone;

SP “I think we can do better on the left than those two.”
JW “So do I.”
SP “Any ideas?”
JW “Nope. You?”
SP “Not really.”
JW “Ah well. Just let them go anyway, I’m sure something will sort itself out.”

Hence the arrival of DeMarcus Beasley who is no better than Musampa or Riera and, whilst not being the greatest, at least they were available for selection most weeks!!!

It’s all about making the right decisions and the people in charge of the club continually make the wrong ones. I can only hope the new prospective ‘owners’ are;
1) Not imaginary
2) Better than the current ones
3) Not raving Communists unable to handle a bit of criticism from their ‘People’.

Ah well. Onwards and upwards. Yeah right.



If anyone else has anything to get off their chest, feel free to drop me a line at bitterandblue@hotmail.co.uk

vote it up!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

what post ? on what website ?

wigan blue said...

So they are thinking about litigation against one of the City websites? Excellent. Here we go.

1. Why do the security company employed by the club consistently attack the home fans?

2. Why is it mandatory to queue for ten minutes at half time for a pint of garbage beer, when any mentally challenged barmaid in the country could clear the bar in half the time?

3. Who is going to score for us?