Vale right to use OVF as sounding board

Vale right to use OVF as sounding board

Rob Fielding feels obliged to defend the club and this website over a recent article on the club’s proposed new kit.

You’d probably have guessed this already but I get quite a few comments from fellow fans sent to me. So, I was rather surprised when amongst the expected items – Micky Adams’ contract, Tom Pope’s form and Norman Smurthwaite’s intentions I was told there had been the odd comment criticising OVF’s recent feature – “should this be Vale’s next away kit?”

It seems that some folks think that Port Vale FC should not be giving this sort of information to a mere fans site like OVF. I find that attitude surprising and frankly wrong.

I tend to think that criticising the club for their kit poll is just moaning for moaning’s sake…

I can understand that some supporters do not agree with Norman Smurthwaite’s style of ownership, but I tend to think that criticising the club for their kit poll is just moaning for moaning’s sake.

Aferall, I seem to remember we had a “few” kit problems last season. Not only was there the lengthy third kit delays but the home and away kits did not arrive for quite some time.

So, why was this article a good idea?

Firstly, Vale are clearly looking at kit designs earlier this season, Isn’t that a good thing and will hopefully ensure the kits arrive in good time in the summer?

Secondly, Vale aren’t addressing their entire fanbase but they are addressing a significant part of it (last time I checked over 20,000 different individuals came to OVF last month) to see if they like the design. It’s surely a good idea to check if people like the design if they want to sell the kit.

And what’s wrong with engaging free market research? Surely, we want the club to be understanding of our views as fans?

Point three – this is market research (and free as we don’t charge anything for publishing such a story). Other methods such as polling fans at matches or via the programme will cost both money and resources. Putting a simple poll on a fans’ site is both immediate, free and simple. And what’s wrong with engaging free market research? Surely, we want the club to be understanding of our views as fans? After all, one of the chief criticisms of V2001 was that they disregarded the views of the fans.

You’re bound to say all of that, you may argue, as you run OVF. Well, yes but I was asked by the club to run this, I didn’t approach them. And I did it because as a fans’ site, we want Port Vale to progress and I felt that polling the fans about a new design would help the club – as a popular design would potentially sell more shirts and earn more money for Vale.

After all, this article doesn’t mean OVF supplanting the official club website as the first place for club statements, news and the like – it’s a sensible use of a fans site for a specific purpose – in order to poll the fanbase. It’s not like OVF is suddenly running club statements and announcements ahead of the official website or indeed the local press. We don’t and we won’t.

And I would argue that if you want to offer criticism of the current Vale regime, their editorial policy should be a very low priority. What about the far more important issue of the manager’s contract, for instance?

The very same people would be moaning and asking why the club hadn’t asked the fans if they liked the design first…

Forgive me for a bad pun but things are not “black and white” in Port Vale world. Norman Smurthwaite doesn’t get everything right but neither does he get everything wrong. I think sometimes it’s too much for some people to acknowledge that sometimes the owner does actually get things right. After all, I bet if the club simply released a kit design without polling the fans and it proved unpopular, the very same people would be moaning and asking why the club hadn’t asked the fans if they liked the design first…

I personally feel it’s much fairer to criticise the club when criticism is due and praise it when praise is due. So, while I criticise the club over delays to Micky Adams’ contract, I will praise them over asking the fans about a kit design. That’s only fair isn’t it?

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