Have you ever wondered why it is only in recent years that clubs have pushed fans to buy club memberships in big numbers?
Well its simple really…
You see, when you get one of the plum jobs going around on the board of a football club, you want to keep it! Have you ever walked into a Leagues club and seen a bunch of pictures of old men in suits on the wall? That’s them, the people who hold positions on the board of your football club. They hold positions of status, of power, and dare I say positions that at the very least open a number of doors financially.
In Rugby League, off the field, change has always been seen as a bad thing. You look at all of the administrative changes within the game over the years, all of them have come years after we all knew that a change was needed. It has been like pulling teeth because no one wanted to give up their little slice of power.
So if you found yourself on a club board, why would you push to get more club members when the current group keep voting you back onto the board every year? You want to keep your job, and having a few thousand extra people being able to vote in club elections just means there is a chance they will vote for someone else instead of you! So stuff that! Keep the membership numbers low, keep your job and life will be good on the gravy train.
Fast forward to 2012, and don’t for a second think that football club boards want to open their doors. They have been forced to push membership numbers simply because it helps the bottom line. You just had to look at the last board elections at the Penrith Panthers where they banned anyone from campaigning for positions on the board but used their considerable influence to get themselves in the mainstream media to do their own campaigning, the old boys network does everything it can to cling on to the positions they hold.
Keeping your job, that is what it all comes down to.
As a fan, clubs want you to become a member. They want your money and they want you to buy their merchandise. They want you to turn up on game day, eat food, drink beer and cheer the team on. Become part of the club and immerse yourself in the experience of being a fan of the club. You’re a supporter and they want you. No, they need you!
Then things don’t go quite how you wanted them do to. You’re decked out in the jersey, the hat, and you’re waving your flag. You’re sitting in the seat you paid for at the end of the previous year, you’re eating the food and drinking the drinks, but the team you are watching is terrible. You are a football tragic and you know what you are seeing. You know which players are putting in and how the team is playing. Casual fans don’t buy club memberships, die hard supporters do.
As the season gets worse and worse, club members start to want change.
Ah, that word again…change. Change is bad…
So the club starts to talk about having faith. They say they are making changes and in time, your faith will be rewarded. Just stick solid, support the club and together we will all get there. Just give us time!
The thing is, nothing changes and the team only starts playing worse. As a paid up member of the club you are putting your own hard earned money into the club. That is not even to mention the time and effort you take to support them. So when they fail, you want changes. You want some accountability.
You can get stuffed.
When push comes to shove the people that run clubs will dismiss you. Your money has already been put in the bank, you did your job. Now keep quiet and let the professionals do their job. This stuff doesn’t concern you. In fact, it is beyond you. You’re just a fan!
That is the attitude at the very top at a lot of clubs and it filters down through the entire organisation. It even gets to the blow in employees in areas such as marketing and socail media. You’re just a fan, you don’t know what you are talking about. Shut up and just accept what we give you. We don’t care if it is what you want, it is what you’ll get. Deal with it…..and sign up as a 2013 club member!
The above is the reason why I have never even considered buying a club membership.
I can enjoy the game without providing money to a bunch of pricks who, at the end of the day, couldn’t care less about my experience as a financial contributer to my club.
Sure, some clubs are different. Some clubs engage fans and are willing to explain to them what their plans are and how they are looking to turn around poor performances. Most pay lip service though, and I just don’t engage in that sort of thing. It is all well and good for some people to run around and talk about change, but when it turns out to be nothing but a Pantomime, I’m out!
So before you decide to sign up to a 2013 club membership, ask yourself, do you really want to hand over your hard earned money to the people that run your club? What are you really getting in return for your money? If you really want to be part of a club, and you really want to have a say, great. There is one way to do that.
When your club has elections, get out there and vote for new blood. Don’t just vote for the same old men whose smilling faces you pass by as you enter your League club after yet another loss.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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