Wednesday, 9 February 2011


The above question was posed by John Cecil on Poppynet recently, and it's a good question.  If Imraan stepped aside and handed the club to it's supporters, would you be prepared to stand up and be counted?  Hearteningly the majority thus far who have replied have indicated that they would.

As ever though with Kettering fans, those answering the question asked by JC are dwarfed by the number of people who don't commit themselves to an answer.  Of the (as of typing) 400 plus views the topic has received, only 59 have made even the tiny effort to tick a box!  Even given the general malaise of the apathetic Kettering public, how much effort does it take to click a mouse button! 

Even though we all cry out for democracy, sustainability and accountability in our everyday lives, when it comes to football we all feel just that little bit happier being under the rule of a benign dictator, don't we?  However, for every Imraan out there willing to dip into his pocket, there's a Mark English waiting in the wings to dip into yours!

A club owned by the supporters would give us fans a real say in how the club was to be run.  It would be a club run by fans, for fans.  Those who are usually opposed to the idea of a supporter run football club generally cite either the inability to inject funds into the club or the lack of experience in running an organisation as large and complex as a football club.  Or an equally valid fact that 10 years ago a Trust committee member was served in front of them at the bar!

With regard to the issue of financing the operation of a football club how much would we actually lose by not having an owner inject his own funds?  We would still generate income from gate receipts.  We would still be selling sponsorship, corporate packages, alcohol, replica shirts, other clothing, klondike tickets, programmes, and half-time bovril.  Yes, we might miss out on the sudden injection of cash for a flashy loan signing, but is this such a bad thing in the long run?  The odd eye-catching "sugar-daddy" splurge may give the club a temporary boost, but more often than not this ends up fueling unrealistic supporter expectations.  We might also revert to a part-time playing status, but, let's be honest, how can we presently justify being full time on gates of a thousandish?

Being a community-owned club would also open other funding options through the FA and other supporter organisations.  The council and landlord have both indicated more of a willingness to help out were the club not owned by an individual.  Other clubs similarly run have also seen an upturn in the local business community willing to pitch in.

As to the question of how could mere supporters actually run a football club, just look around.  Who is effectively running the club on a day-to-day basis now?  Between the Trust committee and other supporters who give their time and effort, we account for the vast majority of the club's activities.  That pre-match pint was served to you in a Social Club wholly run by the Trust.  The Trust run numerous events from the Social Club.  They have funded or contributed to almost every improvement at the ground in recent years from work on the pitch, the floodlights, disabled access and paying for replacing the goalposts.  Do you think the club runs the successful Youth and Community programme?  Guess again, the Trust run it.

The Trust also organised the recent memorabilia exhibition at Kettering library.  Poppies fans have written a book about the early history of the club.  The guy who sold you your ticket and scarf in the club shop is a supporter.  As are the klondike and programme seller you just handed cash over to. 

Clubs like Exeter, Wimbledon, Telford, FC United are all wholly run by their supporters.  Do these club's, or the other 20 or so run by supporters, have fans that are in some way better than ours?

For all Imraan's positive influence at Rockingham Road, even his strongest supporter will concede that he runs the club in a frankly amateur, haphazard way.  Without the time and effort of numerous "ordinary" fans like you and me, the club would grind to a halt tomorrow.  Or do you think Imraan does it all during his fleeting visits, or that it is all done by whichever member of his DRC staff has been handed the task of overseeing the club from his office in Milton Keynes?

Running a football club boils down to having the right, small staff, augmented by a large number of willing volunteers dealing with the off-field matters, and employing the right people to take care of the on-field matters.  We are not dealing with splitting the atom or operating on someone's grey matter here!

Or perhaps we believe that shelling out 15 quid once a fortnight and shouting a bit of encouragement should be the pinnacle of supporter involvement?  Providing of course that other people do the rest of the work to keep the club going.....

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