The situation for the Sheffield Wednesday friendly has caused much discussion on social media and with it, the role of the Supporter’s Board. As a member of the group, I wanted to put my view across on the decision and the role we played in it.
Firstly, it is not our job as a Supporter’s Board to communicate everything that happens in the meetings. that isn’t bullet dodging, not at all I’ll happily stand by the decisions we make, but in truth we don’t make decisions. we, as a selected cross-section of the fan base, are asked our opinions. we give those and the club take them away for consideration.
We were asked about the Sheffield Wednesday friendly, we were given financial outcomes from the two situations, the up sides and down sides of the move and then we discussed it. The group had a split, that prompted ample discussion but we had to offer our recommendation there and then. we couldn’t come away and tell anyone what was being debated, often these issues are brought to us to discuss there and then.
My reasoning behind supporting giving the Selenity Stand to the away fans was two-fold. Firstly, those Wednesday fans would travel anyway and an additional area of the ground was the best way to ensure they didn’t simply mingle with home fans. There’s obviously a risk with a friendly this size, but my thinking was that it would be best to minimise that risk by housing them together. Those Wednesday fans who wanted to come were going to anyway, they’re not going to sit at home because they didn’t get a ticket. To believe they are is naïve.
Secondly, there was a compelling argument on the financials. Aside from Newcastle in ’96, we’ve rarely sold out a friendly and the expectation of less than 4,000 home fans was reasonable. How many did we get for last season’s games? Under 3,000 for Walsall (main picture). Were we genuinely going to sell 7,500 home tickets for a friendly? Therefore, what was preferable, empty seats or money in the bank? Money to put towards the playing budget, maybe help get the left-sided defender over the line, or the centre forward?
That was my view, some around the table shared it and some did not. However, we don’t make the decision and that is the crucial thing here, we’re a steering group almost, a cross-section of support picked based on several factors. I actually believe I was one of the first supporters to be asked and from there, we all put names forward. The board didn’t form at Christmas as many feel, we met with the FSF to decide if the model we were using was suitable. I believe the decision to form was taken before Crewe stuffed us 4-1, by which time we could not be consulted about kits, new menus or other items.
Now, anyone can speak to me or indeed any group member with an issue they’d like to raise. Not everything will get discussed in meetings, we meet for an hour or so every month to six weeks, so time is limited. The club will bring stuff to us, we’ll put concerns back to them. We’re not there to feel important, but we have to promote the fact we’re on it to make you aware who you can come to.
This is a real organic process at present, I’ll confess I was dubious at first, were we meant to be a group of yes men for instance? I’d say this, but I don’t think so. The group has a wide range of people on it and believe me, some of the discussions have been very fraught.
Anything we discuss that I can talk about, I’ll happily do so and if I have a particular stand point I will happily put my reasoning across where asked to. This friendly has caused an issue which is exactly what I thought would happen; you can’t please everyone all of the time. If pressed, I’d argue that the decision wasn’t communicated well by the club once it had been made, people should not have been told they couldn’t buy for other friendlies in that part of the ground and I will relay that at the next meeting as it has been raised by me. I do not feel the wrong decision has been made by the club and I’ll put my head above the parapet to say I argued for it. I know some of my fellow Supporter’s Board members will do the same.
As a group, I know we’re going to be criticised. I know people feel there should have been a wide-ranging democratic process, but when people have been pressed there’s been nobody opposed to the make up of the group. we have to be a finite number to make discussions fluid and quick. I feel saddened that people don’t feel we serve a purpose and even more so that we’re self-serving. we’re simply there as a sounding board not as a fund-raising body although, if the opportunity arises we’d discuss anything put forward.
We really are just a group of fans who want to help steer the club in the direction we, as individuals, feel it should go. we disagree, but we’re not in it for us. we will try to be as transparent as we can, anything we can discuss, we will and in future, I will endeavour to put the minutes of our meetings on the site as soon as I get them for you to read.
Reference Sheffield Wednesday, I’m sorry some of you have had a bad experience when buying tickets, that was certainly not the plan and the club will have a lesson to learn there. However, the decision was taken after consulting us and a larger proportion of us felt it would be a sensible move. Those Wednesday fans would come anyway, this wasn’t purely a financial decision but there are benefits there too.
I’ll check but I believe the next meeting is before Notts County at home, I might be mistaken. If you have an issue, suggestion or topic please email me firstname.lastname@example.org with the reference line ‘Supporters Board’ so I can search my emails before the day and collate them all. We may not get time to discuss everything, we’re not there to talk about where you can buy chips or the like, but I will endeavour to put everything to Liam in one form or another.
Before slating us though please remember, we’re not the enemy. We’re just like you, fans of the club who want the best for Lincoln City.