Rob Fielding welcomes Norman Smurthwaite’s comments that he wants to listen to fans’ views but he also hopes this will not diminish the power of the Supporters Club.
Rob Fielding writes…
Norman Smurthwaite told the Sentinel this week that he wants to set up a fans panel so that he could get “non-political, direct feeling from our supporters of what we are doing well and what we aren’t.”
I certainly welcome any decision by a football club owner to listen to the fans and for this initiative, Smurthwaite deserves much credit.
Back in October 2012, when Wildes and Smurthwaite took over I wrote: “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.’”
In the same article I wrote that: “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.”
I therefore think that any fans panel should be organised and managed by the Supporters Club – which is the existing conduit between fans and club.
An independent fans panel may muddy the waters and could weaken the Supporters Club. After all, fans need a strong Supporters Club to represent their interests in both bad times and good ones.