Fans Find Their Voice

February 4, 2014
Charlie Raincock

Following the apparent absence of fan opinion from last month’s Zoopla hoopla, it was refreshing to see the Leeds United fans in full angry voice this weekend, to see club sponsors getting behind these fans, and to see their combined protests bring about immediate action at the club.

Brian McDermott LeedsNever the quietest collective, the Leeds United fans were apparently in rampant voice before, during and after the derby match against Huddersfield Town to express their disgust at the sacking of Brian McDermott and their fears about the club’s prospective new owner, Massimo Cellino.

Two club sponsors, Enterprise Insurance and Flamingo Land, were swift to lend their backing to the protests by threatening the withdrawal of their support.

Having been dismissed on Friday night, McDermott was back in the job less than 24 hours later and in a surreal chain of events, managing a press conference at Leeds’ training ground on Monday morning.

In contrast to the above, whilst the Leeds and Quenelle scenarios are very different, what has been striking throughout the ongoing Zoopla saga has been the absence of any comparable fan consensus, as the club, player and sponsor continue at loggerheads.

By way of explanation, this quiet could perhaps be a considered fan reaction to the greyness of the alleged offence, only amplified by the polar opposite reaction of the ‘outraged’ sponsor seeking some welcome publicity before the planned expiry of its deal.

McDermott signed off his training ground press conference on Monday by reminding us: ‘This football club doesn’t belong to anyone but the fans and whoever eventually takes this club on has to have those people first and foremost in their minds.’

As sport continues its journey down Commercial Avenue, there is a disturbing trend for fans, and the interests of the fans to be overlooked. Sport’s allure is derived directly from the passion and excitement of fans. There is a naturally elastic quality to fans’ patience, but if it snaps and they leave, they might be replaced by spectators, who can fill a seat…but only until they get bored and move on.

Whilst everyone in sport pays lip service to the importance of fans, actions speak louder than words. It is great to have such a high profile reminder of just how much fans care, and have the right to be considered at every turn.

Your fans are your future. Treat them right.


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