Supporters Made Their Beds, Now Lie In Them

Our Johnny is rather amused by the goings on at Cardiff and Hull, but has little sympathy for supporters who were desperate for the cash and promotion. You made your bed...

Last Updated: 30/12/13 at 10:08 Post Comment

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One of the more tedious noises in modern football is the bleating of fans and media outlets complaining about the antics of a bonkers football club owner who has decided to either sack the manager, change the name of the club, change the strip, change the name of the stadium or has been seen wearing comedy trousers unbecoming of an adult.

Surely, you've got to love a silly football club owner, haven't you? Vincent Tan has made me laugh harder and more often than anyone else this year. For a start he's called Vincent Tan; a made-up name if ever there was one. OK he's sacked a successful and popular manager but it is his club and he can do what he wants. If you had spent a hundred million quid on anything, you'd feel entirely justified in doing anything you like with it. It's your plaything so you can change the strip, the name, the club logo and, if the mood so takes you, only employ players born on the 8th day of the month.

It's worth saying this again; he owns the club, he can do what he wants and frankly, given the degree of ingratitude that is the default fan reaction to a wealthy chairman, it isn't surprising that he might want to throw his weight around a bit. It's not surprising that he might feel resentful at not being acclaimed like the manager or players, because without his money none of it happens, as I'm sure he will prove at some point in the future.

Fans want it all - the money and the success. They want to dictate to the owner how much he should spend and when and on whom and they want him to promise to always be there as their sugar daddy regardless of what happens and if the owner objects to any of this, he is eviscerated by the fans for not caring about the club, not understanding its traditions and for not being 'a football man.'

In my birth town of Hull, there are similar shenanigans going on at the change of the club name to Hull Tigers, as though it really matters. If you don't want to call them the Hull Tigers, just call them Hull City instead. The club's name is, in effect, the one in popular usage, not the one on the official headed notepaper. It's not that big a deal. Tradition in football can be as much a lead weight as part of the indigenous culture. And after all, changing a club name isn't unheard of. Just ask Middlesbrough Ironopolis (clearly a brilliant name).

People are always quick to try and sympathise with the fan outrage on such issues, whipping out the two hoary old clich├ęs, 'not football men' and 'don't understand the game.' Well here's the big news, it doesn't matter. They bought it, they can do what they like within the confines of legality. They can run it into the ground if they want and then sell it off to a tramp. You wanted the investment, so you just have to suck it down. This is what happens now. Surely you knew that?

Their critics claim that the likes of Tan are jealous men and that they want the glory and credit that defaults to the manager or players. Well, yeah, that's not especially unreasonable is it? Tan's money not only kept Cardiff a going concern, it got them promoted. He'd have every right to want a lot of thanks for that. And indeed, if he wasn't a funny little man with trousers up to his armpits; if instead, he was an Englishman who owned the club, the same press would want him to be appreciated. But he's not. He's foreign and he's not a football man and thus deserves nothing except a demand that he shut up and puke out money on demand.

If you didn't want to be vulnerable to this situation, you should have protested at the takeover and then withdrawn your support. You should have done what was necessary to oust the errant owner up to and including bankrupting the club and then started again. Moaning that the monied dude is a rotter after he's spent his wad and got you promoted is lame in the extreme. You've enjoyed what his cash has delivered and you want more of it but you hate the man that made it happen. Can you see why that might p*ss him off?

Too many fans love to portray themselves as the spiritual protectors of football clubs and some are but many more are just fickle. If Tan replaces Malky Mackay with a new man who takes Cardiff into Europe, the tears for Malky will dry up and be forgotten in the same way the protesting at the Glazers ownership of Manchester United evaporated in the heat of three league titles and Champions League success.

If Hull City were to get into the Champions League wearing pink leather shorts and were renamed the East Riding Bastards, few would be that bothered if the big time and big money continued. Success in football placates all but the angriest fan. Even on Tyneside, as proudly bolshy area of the country as you'll find, the understandably anti-Ashley brigade are much quieter when the team is doing well.

The hand-wringing press often ask why are these successful businessmen so bad at running football clubs. They're obviously great at business, why can't they be great at football business?

Tan will argue that his money and stewardship put Cardiff in the top flight. Hull City are 10th in the Premier League and the granddaddy of all the ego maniacal chairmen, Roman Abramovitch, has won more silverware than any club in his period of stewardship despite or possibly because of his autocratic policy of sacking managers. People like yer man Tan, see him and see justification of their intolerance, of their lack of concern for tradition and especially of their lack of concern for what the fans want. Roman went so far as to employ the very man his fans didn't want, just to prove he was right and they were wrong. And guess what? He was right and they were wrong and no amount of sheets of A4 paper held up as banners would prove otherwise.

Taking advice from fans is a mugs game and clever businessmen owners know this. I would wager most Cardiff fans have less idea of how to run a football club than The Tan Man does. It'd be like when Homer took over local government.

The bonkers billionaire chairmen is a welcome added flavour on the football palette. Even if, like the marvellous Venky's at Blackburn (surely the leaders in their field when it comes to having no idea how to run a football club), they run the whole affair into the ground, it's never less than great fun to watch their bewildered expressions as it all comes crashing down. Yes the club may eventually go bust and have to be rescued by people who are not lunatic billionaires but so be it. Top flight football is an insane world full of crazy money and if you want to swim in that sea you're going to attract a few sharks. It's part of the gig in the 21st century and laughing at it is the only truly sane response.

Johnny has written some novels you know. They're superb - www.johnnicholsonwriter.com is where you can find them.

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