New owners should ignore fans at their peril

New owners should ignore fans at their peril

Rob Fielding argues that although new owners could run the club in the way they want, he hopes that they will maintain an open dialogue with the fans and in particular, with the Supporters Club.

Rob Fielding writes…

Vale fans are empowered and with the power that they wield it is essential that the preferred bidders take fans’ views seriously and listen to them. Otherwise they could rapidly suffer the consequences.

So, it appears that Port Vale’s potential new owners are set to be unveiled. First and foremost, I hope they have the good of the club at heart. And secondly. I hope that any new owners will not ignore the Port Vale fanbase.

Yes, I understand that buying a football club is a huge investment,often with no chance of recouping your money, but that investment and ownership doesn’t mean that you ignore the fans who support the club.

Why do I say that? Well, let me give you an example. When you take away all the minutiae of events that occurred during the decline and fall of Valiant 2001, the simple and overriding reason for their failure was that they starting disregarding the views of fans (and in many cases shareholders).

So, with that in mind… while I don’t expect any new owners to share every, single detail of their plans with fans, I do hope they will be open and honest with the fans and listen to the views of their “customers.”

Once of the most pertinent things said during the slow demise of Valiant 2001 was this quote from Steve Bradbury, Valiants against Racism founder who said that “a club with no fans is a club with no heart.” Indeed, in almost any other industry sector, Port Vale fans would be valued – as customers. And as customers, Vale fans have shown that they can force change – even if it takes time and they have to endure setbacks.

Yes, for better or for worse, Vale fans are empowered and with the power that they wield it is essential that the new owners take fans’ views seriously and listen to them. Otherwise they could rapidly suffer the consequences.

So, how should the new owners “take the fans seriously?”

Firstly, I would hope that room can be found in the boardroom for a fans’ representative – and I can think of no better person than Pete Williams, chairman of the Supporters Club, to fill the role. Perhaps there could be a change to the club’s constitution to automatically elect future chairmen of the Supporters Club a boardroom role, even if it’s only a non-voting, non-executive position?

And while we’re on the subject, I would suggest that the Supporters Club is the obvious route by which new owners can communicate with fans. I firmly believe that the vast majority of fans are delighted to see a powerful, committed and resourceful Supporters Club both standing up for and supporting Vale fans. They have done a cracking job communicating with fans already, so in my view, they are the natural organisation to both foster ties with the new owners and to communicate the owners’ views to the fans.

So, if we really want fans to unite, for the club to progress, for new owners to take us forward, I think it’s essential that the new owners take the fans seriously. After all, Valiant 2001 didn’t and look what happened to them!

 


The administration months

Read our day-to-day diary of the twists and turns of Vale’s second period in administration


 

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