Board’s "below the belt" tactics damage the club

Board’s "below the belt" tactics damage the club

Rob Fielding argues that the current tactics of the Port Vale FC board are ruining the reputation of the club.

A strong statement? Yes, but in my view a justified one.

Take a look at the latest statement by the club. Leaving aside accusations of abuse from fans, which I will deal with later, it alleges fans’ comments on the Internet (by implication, the OVF forum) are “dishonest.” A previous comment by Chairman Bill Bratt reported by BBC Radio Stoke accused fans of posting “lies” on the Internet (by implication, the OVF forum). To anyone following events at Port Vale FC over recent months, it will come as no surprise.

Let’s get this straight. If the board defend themselves and argue their case then I personally would have no problem. In other parts of their statement they do this and although I may disagree with their reasoning, I respect their right to air their views.

But my issue with recent statements is that reasoned argument is NOT the main tactic that the board employs. Here are some examples:

1. As previously mentioned, postings on OVF are described as “lies” and “dishonest.” This is not true. Just take a look at the threads. This is honest investigation by fans, who provide facts to back up their claims. There is no “dishonesty” there, just an argument that has been presented which is different to the board’s views.

2. There has been constant character assassination of Mo Chaudry. Just read the “Saint or Sinner” brochure that was sent to shareholders.

3. There have even been suggestions that both Black and Gold and Mo Chaudry are linked with both the “disruption” of the fans forum and with sending suspect packages to board members’ families. These are outrageous accusations, denied by both Black and Gold and Mr Chaudry.

This is not reasoned arguments, but in many fans’ view they are simply “below the belt” tactics designed to spread doubt about the anti-board group.

Let me touch on the alleged “abuse” from fans for a moment. If any personal abuse has been directed at the board, club or sponsors by fans then I completely condemn it.

But as these allegations are so frequently levelled at board detractors, is it not fair to ask for evidence to back up these accusations? If there has been systematic and serious abuse aimed at the club, then I presume the authorities have been informed. Can the club provide evidence and contacts to allow these claims to be verified independently?

I wonder if you are a board supporter reading this? Have you read the attempted character assassinations and smears? Are you comfortable with this approach by the board?

I would presume as a board supporter, you would want the debate to centre on the argument and for the board to argue its case without resort to these sort of “below the belt” tactics. Indeed, I feel that board critics, like me, would have no problems if the club was to argue its case in a fair and proper manner.

Have Mo Chaudry, North London Valiants and Black and Gold attacked the character of board members? No. These groups have attacked the argument, alone.

The board would be much more highly regarded if they ditched their current tactics and stopped damaging the good name and reputation of Port Vale FC.


Rob Fielding has been a Port Vale fan for thirty years. He founded the award-winning onevalefan.co.uk website in 1996. These are his personal views and he welcomes your comments on them.

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