Safe in Their Hands?
The problems at SWFC and in the wider game - some thoughts

When DC appointed Tony Pulis many fans, including me, were positive because it seemed that in response to our club being in a mess DC had decided to bring in a senior figure in the game to get a real hold of what needed to be done. Anyone who knows anything about TP knows that if he gets on well with a Chairman it’s fine but if he doesn’t then problems might arise. Did DC and Mr Paixao understand this when they were making this decision? TP’s reign soon fell apart amidst a results crisis and relationship issues and TP departed. DC’s comments at the press conference that followed underlined the suspicions that in appointing TP he didn’t know what he was doing.

At the same press conference, we heard news of a new relationship with a new adviser in the form of Erik Alonso. There was not a lot of clarity about what his role was intended to be. It again underlined fears that DC doesn’t know what he’s doing. It now appears that there are 2 competing manager recruitment processes in play; one being led by Mr Paixao and one by Mr Alonso; from what can be gathered each interviewing potential candidates separately. And then, we see cryptic tweets from Mr Alonso about not being allowed to do a job and the importance of fans – will he go the way of TP? Does DC know what he’s doing?

Our club has been without a manager since 28 December in the middle of a critically important transfer window, amidst what will be the fight of our lives to avoid relegation. Meanwhile we have this soap opera of a manager recruitment process playing out around us. Does DC know what he is doing?

Add to all the above the 18/19 accounts have still not been published, we don’t own our biggest asset, and we don’t know what the ground sale and FFP decision mean for the finances of the club. In September this year one of DC’s companies has to repay money to an outside lender or risk our stadium being sold from under us. The club has a real cash flow problem – most of it down to Covid impacts I accept – amid general fears about the finances of the club with problems related to paying wages. And there are questions marks about the ability of DC to continue to fund the club. 55% of 19/20 season ticket holders are awaiting refunds and no one knows what that proportion might be for 20/21 - the alienation is that real. Does DC know what he is doing?

And my feelings about all this are summed up in the personal Q&A that goes through my head.  Can I be bothered to be angry anymore? Sometimes yes, but often no. Am I just often apathetic instead? Yes, I am. Can I see any change in approach to how my club is run on the horizon? No, I can’t. Do I want to see my team relegated to League One? No, I don’t. Do I think it might need a crisis such as relegation to force real change? Yes, I do. Am I confident that out of such a crisis, positive things will result? No, I am not. Do I think it might be worth a try? Yes, I do. So, there we are – to try to resolve a crisis I think a bigger crisis might be needed. Strange times indeed.

In the midst of our local club crisis, the professional game below the PL, is in the middle of an existential crisis, whilst the self-interest of PL clubs and a number of Championship clubs plays out in the form of the PL Strategic Review (being delivered by American Management Consultants) and resistance to the urgent need for a new approach to the financial madness of the Championship. The need for an Independent Regulator for football has never been more needed but the government that has the power to make it happen is fixated on the PL and is paying lip service to its own manifesto commitment to a fan led review of football governance. At least the Football Supporters Association (FSA) and the David Bernstein group are banging on that door trying to force change.

So, football, and my relationship to it, is not in a positive place right now. The next few months may lead to me being in a very different place as regards that relationship. But I guess I am not alone in that.

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