The Allure of The King
Posted by kdorg on May 19, 2012, 10:04:24 AM
Only had the pleasure of reading this now.
Resonates on every level.
Football has slipped from the grasp of supporters almost completely.
If you feel alienated, there's another new fan waiting to take your place in the financial food chain somewhere in the world.
The only happy supporters are those who are following clubs that either have a lot of money to spend relative to their status, or that have accepted their place in the status quo and are happy trying to maintain it.
One is the only way to win anything and the other is the only way to accept not winning anything
But is there?
I am an Australian born to Scouse parents.
I have never been to Liverpool in my life, have never set and may never set foot in Anfield.
The games for me (depending on time of year) can start anytime from 9pm to 4am at night.
The social and cultural ties are not there.
I "inhereited" my support for LFC from my Mum and Dad. Because they were the team my Dad loved and Kenny was his hero. He taught me the songs, woke me up in the middle of the night when I was a klid with a cocoa and we'd watch matches together.
All my friends who follow football watch Barcelona, they win things even in a bad season, Messi is endlessly entertaining to watch. My friends have no spiritual, traditional, cultural ties to a football club and no family allegiances. They choose a club to watch and a shirt to buy in much the same way as they pick films to watch and actors or actresses to like. Based purely on appeal, who is entertaining, who has the biggest celebrity draw cards.
If LFC disenfranchises those fans like my Dad who loved this club win, lose or draw. Who's loyalty was based on so much more - then they need to ask who they are going to replace him with?
As most of the kids in all those far flung corners of the world aren't going to pick LFC - sorry - and they're not going to pick LFC even if we finish top 4. There are other clubs that get to the semi-finals at least of the CL most years recently and win it pretty frequently, there are clubs, that have great brands - that can offer the romance of a team full of players that played together at the club when they were kids. Walt Disney movie story lines of children who needed medical treatment their parents couldn't afford to pay for and were turned down by their local clubs - and so flew half way across the world, to be signed on a napkin and become world-beaters.
My question is if in the brave new world at LFC it's all about revenue streams - what is our brand, what is our identity and will it compete globally? Sorry to use the phrase but what is our 'unique selling proposition' we won't be the only club in the top 4 if we get there will we, FSG will increase the value of their asset overall but will it really be a draw card to significantly grow the support, that hasn't been the case for Arsenal has it?
It seems to me if football is a business, then supporters are customers. FSG just fucked off a bunch of customers and I don't think disconnecting the emotional bonds that link people to their club in pursuit of a top 4 finish, is a business model that will succeed. An LFC that finishes top 4 is not going to expand it's fanbase greatly when it is competing against numerous other clubs who will still be better placed to appeal to the 'non-local' fan.
If we don't believe in legends, if the Liverpool way is an empty cliche, if we aren't a family, if we aren't different, or proud of our traditions - then seriously why the fuck would a non local fan choose to buy an LFC shirt and not an FCB one with Messi on the back?
Rule number one of pragmatic business is keep the customers you have isn't it? Retention. Football fandoms have been passed down in families for generations, that is the strongest recruitment vehicle LFC has.
Maybe I don't know the numbers but really I would have thought old codgers like me Dad ordering a shirt most years and a bunch of other merchandise crap and paying for his TV was worth a few bob and you add them all up - is that not as important an income stream as the 20 mill from 4th? Couldn't we have given Kenny 1 more year and put in place better people around him as is planned? Did we need to give up so quickly on the notion of trying to make top 4 and honour our traditions, retain our soul? Surely financially the best outcome would be to make top 4 and protect what is unique about the club 'its brand" if you will, if we are gonna be all business-like.
When my FCB supporting friends ask me why I support LFC, I of course explain it's a family tradition but I also used to explain to them how YNWA was more than a song and how LFC was really special. Well, I don't know that I would make that argument now.
I think sacking Kenny was as bad a case of baby out with the bathwater as I've seen. As now we won't benefit from him learning from his mistakes and whoever comes in next will have a learning curve, need some time and make some mistakes too.
I actually don't believe this makes sense from a business point of view long before you get to the emotional ties.
I guess for me the big difference between my point of view and many here is that I don't have any intrinsic faith in business. A business driven decision doesn't equal a good decision necessarily. As business people get it wrong, every day. Only time will tell.
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