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What A Difference A Day Made
Ten games in, EFL Appeal, DC Presser and all that

What a difference a day made

Twenty-four little hours

Brought the sun and the flowers

Where they used to be rain

So goes the song made famous made by Dinah Washington. On Tuesday at 7pm we were definitely feeling under the rain after those terrible performances and results against Luton, Rovrum and Wycombe. It looked as if relegation was looming and the majority of fans had lost all confidence in GM after the recent results, on top of a dismal record. But we then saw the type of Wednesday performance we haven’t seen at Hillsborough for some time – full of positive attitude and energy to deliver a deserved win. Yes, we could have created more chances, but had we taken the ones we did create we would have won by more. The team had to dig in a bit in second half whilst having to show some defensive steel. If that win didn’t put everything right it at least held out a possibility of improvement. And then just before 7pm on the next day the club confirmed that the appeal to the EFL Arbitration Panel had produced a reduction in the 12 points deduction down to 6. This and the 11 points we have gained on the pitch have got us to within one win of being out of the bottom three – and that could be achieved before the November break! Suddenly we were bathed in sunlight and the flowers were blooming, well not quite, but you know what I mean.

Paul’s last piece on here perfectly caught the mood of Wednesdayites plotting the downfall of GM and speculating on his successor after the Wycombe debacle. We can but hope that the players, GM and his staff now have fresh wind in their sails and can now go on to produce more consistently better performances than we have seen. Very few Wednesdayites expect a push for the play-offs as we know that a six points deduction is still a challenge; securing Championship status is the key priority. Fans have stopped listening to words form the players and the manager – they will solely be judged now by what happens on the pitch. I always think it’s fair to make the first judgement on a season after 10 games and after our first ten games the jury is so far out on a curate’s egg of a start. We need to achieve 56 points to stay up and we have so far bagged 11 which requires another 45 points from 36 games to obtain, at 1.25 points per game. That should be perfectly doable looking at our squad on paper but the inconsistencies, injuries and suspensions may make that a challenge. We will see whether they can rise first to that challenge and then move on to mid-table security.

We then moved on to the press conference with Mr Chansiri on Bonfire Day!  DC shot off a few fireworks that were useful for the assembled journalists but I don’t think it threw much light on the issues that need to be addressed. What I took from it:

  • DC was still very defensive about social media criticism. Totally with him on the unnecessary and nasty stuff but the context of ticket prices, high wages to underperforming players and poor football/results has led to much of that. It needs a different approach on both sides to break out of that vicious circle.
  • He thinks EFL and government should get their fingers out and agree a bail out for clubs due to Covid-19 – the challenges are great and gave a commitment to try to save the club from collapse. Not sure who is going to break the PL/EFL/Government logjam on a bail out though, and would it support our club in the Championship?
  • There has been a change in approach on player wages and recruitment but I was left with the feeling that this was an expedient driven by circumstances, and we may return to the old approach, should finances allow it in the pursuit of promotion to the PL.
  •  I didn’t get a sense of any change in approach on ticket prices with him solidly defending the current way of operating, and even Covid-19 and its impacts on the livelihoods and incomes of fans has not cut much ice.
  • Neither did I draw any commitment to a new CEO, and even if he did it would be about driving revenue with not a word about fan engagement and club strategy. Nothing doing on a Director of Football either.
  • He believes we should not worry about the stadium being separated from the club as he owns both. He hasn’t charged rent for the first year but there was no clarity on what the rent will be or whether the first instalment of the £60m stadium purchase price has been paid to the club.
  • Fans were challenged about believing Wednesday is a big club and DC very strongly asserted that it wasn’t and we need to wake up to that. In some senses he is right, but if you recruit ex PL players and pay PL wages and talk about promotion in 2 years fans will believe we are a big club. Tunabucks and all that.

If you want more detail on the presser see the Twitter timelines of Dom Howson, Mike McCarthy etc

Fans are feeling alienated from the club by high ticket prices, rubbish football and a distant and high-handed attitude from the club that leads to fans believing they are customers and not stakeholders with an emotional investment in the club. Never mind their collective financial investment over they years that also amounts to many millions. It is clear that DC has put a lot of money into the club, not always successfully, and he is committed to the club – that commitment and money will be needed if the club is to survive the Covid-19 crisis intact. In my view he needs to ensure the club establishes an open process of engaging with fans to try and to try build a shared vision of what realistically our club can achieve within the context of the money available to the club, and the ability of fans to financially contribute to that – particularly given the economic upheaval caused by Covid-19. Without that I fear further alienation between club, DC and the fans that will do on one any good. There is also a worry that months of absence from football may have given fans the opportunity to develop new habits other than going to Hillsborough. Will DC listen? I hope he does. The club needs the fans and the fans need to feel part of the club.

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03.12.2020
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