I REMEMBER the glory days of crowd-funding. Bands allowing you to pay for an album before it is made so they can record it. Young film-makers who can’t get the interest of production companies trying to make their first movie. Giving the public the chance to support charities or community projects struggling for money.
Now it’s all changed.
You have Hollywood actors raising money to make films so they don’t have to share profits with a film studio. You have ‘independent’ businesses asking you to pay their set-up costs, because apparently just buying products from them isn’t enough. And now we have people trying to throw money at sports clubs because they aren’t getting their own way.
By now you have probably read in the mainstream media that Michael Gavin, who claims to be a Liverpool fan, is trying to raise the €10,000,000 he has decided it will cost to sack Brendan Rodgers through GoFundMe.
So far he is on just €400, which is a long way short.
Although given he set up the page to receive donations (which means you get whatever people give you) rather than a pledge (which means you only get the money if you hit the target) and the fact that Gavin himself doesn’t seem to have donated yet, unless he has done so anonymously, rather makes you question the real aims of the whole objective.
Whatever the motive (and I suspect it is to take money off foolish people) it hasn’t sat particularly well with the majority of Liverpool fans.
The line “please donate whatever money you can” when the news is full of people who actually need the help of whatever we can, particularly grates.
But it is also interesting that 22 people, at current count. are so desperate to see Brendan Rodgers to go that they are willing to give a man they have probably never met money in the hope that a) He does what he says he’ll do with it b) The owners decide it proves that enough fans want him gone to act and c) they decide to go through the extreme PR gamble of to using supporter money to do so, instead of the football club’s.
Why do these people do it? There is an element of attention seeking about it, of course. You can’t do anything in 2015 unless you tell everyone about it on social media.
I expect every one of those donors has put a link on their Twitter trying to prove what a massive Liverpool fan they are, and how they hate Brendan Rodgers more than you do.
It’s the same for the men who bore all their friends in the pub about how they flew a plane over Liverpool with ‘Rodgers Out’ on it. But for many I think its also a simple case of not knowing any other way to influence their football club.
It’s tough being a football fan, even more a Liverpool fan. There are a lot of rules you have to obey. First of all, Liverpool don’t boo, that’s ‘Everton behaviour’.
If the Liverpool team has shown the required effort, if not any of the required quality, you are expected to clap the players off. The anthem we sing literally demands your loyalty is unwavered. Through the wind and the rain we must walk on. If the Kop hadn’t chosen it themselves, it would almost be like a song played at a North Korean military parade.
So not supporting in the ground is frowned upon. So what do you do, stop going? That’s even worse. You’re a glory hunter, here for the good times and abandoning us in the bad. Besides, what’s the point? Someone else will come along and take your ticket. So how is that a protest? No, you have to stay, suck it up, and hope it all gets better.
It’s even worse for those not lucky enough to be at Anfield every other week. How do you show your displeasure then? You can shout at Dejan Lovren on the TV, but he can’t hear you. You can storm out the pub early, but no-one will notice, unless it’s your round. You can shout on Twitter, moan on a forum, blame us on our message board because of something one of us said about the manager six months ago…
You might feel better for a bit. But is anyone really listening?
It’s the ‘is anyone really listening?’ question that drives people mad. In the past managers and players seemed approachable. You’d see the players in the same pubs and clubs as you. Managers lived in the same type of houses you do.
As countless stories attest to, if you knocked on their door they would often come out for a chat. If you didn’t like what they were doing, you could walk up to them and tell them. They’d probably tell you to ‘fuck off’, particularly if it was a player on a Saturday night, but at least they would know how you felt.
Now, Liverpool players are encouraged to drive straight off after training and not sign things for fans. They build a barbers in their house so they don’t have to go out in public. The more they separate themselves from the communities they represent, the more it’s easy to assume they don’t care.
Then there are the owners. I don’t believe Liverpool have ever had perfect owners. They’ve certainly never had socialist ones. Rich local men have turned into richer foreign men. At least they used to go to the games though. They were there in the stands watching the games. They could see what was acceptable and what wasn’t. They could hear the frustrations in the crowd, witness with their own eyes when the crowd disperses well before the end.
Now I don’t believe for a second FSG don’t monitor everything at Liverpool very closely. It’s too expensive an investment not to for a start. But when they spend so little time it the city, it is easy to claim they are too distant from the action to recognise the severity of a situation.
In the past I think people were more likely to grin and bear bad times. The idea of “support the team, and if the results aren’t good enough, there will be changes” doesn’t wash with many any more.
Previously, you might have had faith that the manager would walk away if it clearly wasn’t working, or that the owners would be present and competent enough to recognise the right time for a change. Do we now?
What manager would walk away from that contract when he has so little interaction with angry fans? Are the distant owners quite happy to keep an investment ticking over, increasing commercial revenue and ticket sales unless there is a drastic need for change?
I’m not as negative about the owners as some. I think footballers care a lot, and I think the manager has got his head so kettled from caring he can’t think straight (he probably needs a chat with Mignolet’s wife). But I understand the very reasonable reasons people disagree. That they think no-one is listening. That we could sink into the abyss and everyone at the club would say everything is fine.
So people get desperate. They fly planes. They try and raise money online. They tweet John W Henry. Because, quite frankly, they don’t know what else to do.
Football clubs can do something about this of course. Owners can turn up to more football games. They can pay more than lip service to the supporters’ committee they set up (but have failed spectacularly in the minimum attendance numbers they themselves imposed).
Instead of appearing on the front of this month’s FC Business magazine, Billy Hogan can talk to the Liverpool Echo, or to us, any time he wants about how he intends to improve the fortunes of the football club, and the experience for those who want to watch them, instead of bragging about what a good idea opening a London office was.
— fcbusiness Magazine (@fcbusiness) August 25, 2015
Players can seem more arsed, too.
Sign autographs on the way to the car at Anfield instead of getting straight in. Worry more about the 90 per cent whose day you have made rather than the 10 per cent who might put it on Ebay for what you earn in half an hour.
It was great to see Jordan Henderson pop into Carragher’s Bar yesterday when he was in New York. Come to the Solly after the game next week? The worst you’ll experience is some aggresive hugging. It was great to see David Fairclough and Alan Kennedy on the Irregulars fan bus on the way to Manchester United at the weekend. What is stopping a suspended Liverpool player from doing the same?
I know it’s hard. And the fact that football clubs thinking football fans are all scary and mad isn’t helped by the fact that they often do things that are pretty scary and mad.
But I honestly think a genuine spirit of togetherness, led by the club, would help.
If fans were confident those at the football club were on the same side as them, we’d feel much less desperate to get ourselves heard, by any means necessary.
The fans in the Main Stand will still moan, and the fans in the Kop probably still won’t sing enough, but we can’t solve everything at once.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda-Photo