Directors' Cunning Stunts
The relationship between football directors and the club’s fans is often a sensitive one. It is also something the Bristol City board wish to improve for the good of the supporters and the club as a whole…or so the directors would have us believe.
In my assessment of the board's actions in this field I intend
to take the facts as they stand, add a pinch of bitterness, half
a cup of vitriol and two and half pints of perverse logic in an
attempt to unearth the truth behind the glossy front the directors
like to present.
Go to any other team’s “Fans Forum” section and you will find that the supporters are free to discuss the clubs activities and draw their own conclusions by swapping ill-informed opinion and slagging off their own directors, manager and players without fear of interference from board members taking the time to read their views and offering 'facts' to an argument. However, as many of you will know, this is not the case on the Bristol City forum.
Why is it that we cannot even seek sanctuary from directorial spin in this last bastion of fan talk? Some would like us to believe that the reason is simply one of maintaining good relations. Indeed, it has often been a complaint over the years that there is not enough liaison between the club and its fans and that the directors take no notice of what the fans think. So you might argue it is a good thing that the vice-chairman interacts with the fans. But that is not how I see it. Why on earth do the board think we want to hear facts from the horse’s mouth when we could be trading ill-informed insults? For me it is another example of the directors' PR steamroller crushing everything in its path on the road to total mind control over the supporters, leaving the way clear for them to hatch evil plans as we march around Ashton Gate like automatons spouting pro-board soundbites. They want to take over our brains. Can you not see it?
Whilst on the subject of the forum, two other directly related issues have recently been brought to my attention.
Firstly, it did not go unnoticed that while Steve Lansdown (the usual directorial mouthpiece on the forum) was on holiday, those of us still at home were afforded no such break from the board's shameless spin-doctoring. We all assumed that in his absence, we would be free at last to return to debating topics without fear of being listened to by our very own in-house Big Brother. Not a bit of it! Who turned up the very next day? PR guru Colin Sexstone and his own brand of publicity campaigning and self-promotion. Surely this is no coincidence.
Secondly, I understand that recently a meeting of supporters took place in Bristol which involved some social drinking and a kick-about in a local park. Reportedly, the day was going well, and although the people there were not the sort I would want to associate myself with (i.e. sociable, pleasant and friendly), I humbly accept that how people waste their weekends is up to them. However, what started out as an enjoyable afternoon's entertainment was soon to have the dark spectre of boardroom PR cast across it in the shape of the Lansdowns. In addition to the vice-chairman’s bandwagon rolling into town, who else was there? Surprise, surprise, a photographer was on hand to record the event in case anyone missed it. Is nowhere safe??? You can’t tell me they’re not all in league.
Now some have suggested that they were invited. Those in attendance even had the audacity to make such remarks as "Thanks for coming" and "Nice to meet you". Two fans were even heard to say "What lovely, genuine people". Job done, board!! PR Bandwagon 1 DickieX’s Conspiracy XI 0. But it won’t last.
For all this public relations claptrap that the directors are trying to force down our throats, I can't help casting my mind back to happier times, when we had our own man-of-the-people who cared nought for such things - Scott Davidson (cut to soft focus footage of me and Scott running towards each other in a summer meadow, arms outstretched as we yearn for a loving embrace on a sultry summer's evening). I know what some of you will be asking yourselves. 'Dickie', you'll be saying, 'how can you accuse the current board of systematically undertaking a campaign of premeditated PR stunts, yet not tar Scott Davidson with the same brush when talking about his relationship with the fans?' For the answer to this question, I would refer you to paragraph two of this piece, where my reasoning is clearly outlined.
As I left Ashton Gate on Saturday, three minutes before the final whistle (I sit in the Dolman, so it's expected) I couldn't help noticing a misty-eyed supporter turning to Scott Davidson and saying 'All right, Scott?', 'Yes thanks' Scott replied. The electricity in the air was almost tangible. The great man had done it again. For a brief moment the buzz was back at The Gate, but tragically as quickly as it had reappeared, it had gone again. 'Who was that?' said another young supporter. That, my wide-eyed little friend, was one of the finest, most beautiful men to walk this Earth, and now he's gone and we've been left to take the full force of the board's PR onslaught alone. Lord, help us.
I think I've proved my case conclusively. There is no doubt the board are indulged in a secret, sinister campaign to brainwash the masses. It’s a disgrace but they don't fool me. Oh no. The board should all resign immediately.