Fans must be empowered even when Ryder takes over

Fans must be empowered even when Ryder takes over

OVF founder Rob Fielding says that after all the efforts taken to ensure that Port Vale supporters stand up for themselves, calls for blind faith in new owner Keith Ryder are “condescending and duplicitous.”

Fielding argues that he hopes Ryder is a huge success, but if he isn’t he “and all other Port Vale fans should reserve the right to criticise him.”

Rob Fielding writes…

We are apparently close to Keith Ryder being officially confirmed as the new Port Vale owner. Thanks to the gloriously unfathomable Football League, no-one is quite sure if the “swearing in” process will be complete on Wednesday, but most observers seem to think it is pretty likely.

Rob Fielding has been a Vale fan for 31 years and was once accused of a “Stalinist rewrite of history” by a former Port Vale director.

Once that has happened, I expect many fans’ expectations will immediately sky rocket. After the departure of three of the club’s better players, heads will be on plates (for some observers) if the club don’t immediately bring a host of high-profile names into the ranks.

Some of the recent forum comments and so-called “negative” views have drawn some stinging criticism from the manager and others recently (I’ve already posted my response to the manager elsewhere). While some complaints have been over-the-top (but, hey, remember, it’s a football fans forum not the letters page of the Daily Telegraph…) I don’t entirely agree with the “stop moaning” argument.

Whilst I agree that saying we’re going to be relegated is ridiculous and I agree we should be grateful we’re coming out of administration, I must admit I am disappointed at the loss of Griffith and Richards. I don’t think it’s going to be as simple a task (as some think) to find replacements either. It’s not just as simple as spending Marc Richards’ wages on two more strikers – the new players need to fit in, they need to gel with their team mates and they need to match the success of the departed players. That’s a tall order, in my book.

Continuity is key and Vale have lost two important members of the team’s spine. I think fans have to be realistic and accept that this sort of disruption is going to hurt us at the start of next season. Yes, there’s always the chance that Micky Adams may pull some rabbits out of hats, but there’s also the strong possibility that he doesn’t… And it’s for that reason I’m not subscribing to the “stop moaning” campaign.

On the pitch, we’ve clearly suffered a blow. Yes, it’s not Keith Ryder’s fault, but it’s still disappointing and I think disappointed fans are going to be, by and large, negative. So, whilst, in an ideal world, I see how things would be much better if we all showed enthusiasm, I just cannot understand why some people seem to want to force people to be positive.

Anyway, back to off-pitch affairs and the “criticism of the criticism of the new owner” debate.

In my view, it’s unrealistic to tell supporters that “all will be well once Keith comes on board.” Such things work both ways – so whilst it’s unfair of supporters to criticise the new owner before he’s even sat down at his desk, it’s equally unrealistic to tell fans to accept all is well at Vale Park before Mr Ryder has even started in his office.

Ryder’s still got to prove himself with deeds, not words. It certainly seems that Mr Ryder will be a far better owner than previous regimes. But we can’t say that for sure, can we? I feel it is condescending and duplicitous for people who urged the fans to be critical, to be empowered and to take action to now urge fans to not criticise and to blindly accept all will be well with Port Vale FC.

I would absolutely love Keith Ryder to come in, tell us his plans and deliver on them. But I hope fans need to continue to ask questions, to not blindly accept everything and are prepared to give criticism when it is deserved.

If Keith Ryder does well and delivers on his promises, then I will support him. But if he doesn’t, I and all other Port Vale fans should reserve the right to criticise him if we feel it is in the best interests of Port Vale FC.


  1. A fair and balanced article. I do believe that some who are now saying all will be well with Keith Ryder are the same as the ones who were saying all will be well once Valiant 2001 take over. However, if there is to be criticism let it be fair, balanced and positive and let the lead come from the staff. So no more of Grew saying all the players are rubbish and worse. And no more of Adams saying all the players are on the transfer list.

  2. rob i know that we the supporters of port vale have had a lot to put up with during the last couple of seasons but you appear to be a dubious minded individual who’s glass is always empty, either that or you’ve got a chronic case of boozers gloom.perhaps you can’t think positive it may not be in your make up to be upbeat or even acknowledge the efforts that others have made but you wont stop me from looking forward to the new season. and don’t start on about what the supporters contributed, a lot did but quite a few didn’t especially the gang of drunks who sat in the lorne street having told a bucket lady to f—off or those who lit a joint up in the toilets,so come on rob think positive and smile for a change,it wont hurt you for once to act humanoid.

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