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Clubs Can’t Tell Fans How To Support The Team

Date: 22nd October 2021

In ordinary circumstances, I’d have applaud Falkirk for holding a Q&A meeting with their fanbase.

But for any board, custodian or owner it’s important that you enter into such an environment with the understanding that tough questions may be asked and that it’s important to remain calm and collected at all times. 

Never forget that supporters are a football club’s main stakeholders, especially in Scottish Football.

It’s been a tetchy time for everyone in the last twenty or so months, just holding meetings in a public forum should still seem like a victory.

Now going into that Q&A session, as an outsider it was obvious to me that there would be some disgruntled fans. The club are still in League One and currently lie in fifth place, not a situation the fans or those in charge would be excited by.

It started off in a reasonable manner with the introductions but it went downhill pretty quickly when director Gordon Colborn took to the mic.

Mr Colborn would directly attack some of the clubs supporters. He goes on to tell those in attendance just how they should be supporting the team and that they are in fact part of the problem by creating a hostile atmosphere.

It’s essentially emotional blackmail. You have to support the team to get the best out of them. I have never fully subscribed to that notion. Fans pay their way, they buy tickets and merchandise. That is supporting the whole football club, a club that they’ve probably supported for years and years. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be frustrated. That doesn’t mean that they can’t show their frustration.

The management team, the recruitment department and the players are the ones that have to find ways of getting better results and performances. If they can’t consistently do that, then the fans have a right to question things. 

The board and the like then have to foster better links with the community. Again that isn’t down to the average punter. There’s no point goading regular supporters with the ‘you’re not helping us bring in new fans’ debate. I’m guessing seeing the team struggling will be enough to put fans off. 

I then loved how the first question of the evening by a fan was set up perfectly – only for Bairns chairman Gary Deans replied with ‘That was a statement not a question’… Although there was definitely a question in there regarding serious change. 

Then there was a bit from the board about this new player is better than this old player. Again that lacks professionalism in my eyes. I see absolute no point in throwing ex-employees under the bus. 

Again I applaud Falkirk for holding the meeting. It is always important to have dialogue between the club’s hierarchy and the club’s fans. But you have to be better prepared and more savvy. Accept responsibility, ask for time and try and move on. Importantly listen to those in attendance. That was a packed room, those people took time out of their lives to go to that meeting and they did that because of their love for Falkirk FC. 

Don’t lose them by chasing new younger crowds that might simply not be there. Listen to their concerns and do your upmost to ease them if possible. What some of the Falkirk board did was talk down to them and blame them, that’s simply not a good look nor a way to run a football club! 

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