I’ve written plenty of pieces similar to this previously, and posted tweets with the same message, too. Usually, I’ll start by suggestion everyone has a right to an opinion, which they do. But, the more I think about it, the more I believe it isn’t about someone’s views. There are issues in terms of the culture and the mentality at Sheffield Wednesday, everyone knows it. And now it’s time to address the problems and drive change.
The culture and mindset within the football club will bleed into the one which surrounds it and vice versa. Football is a sport where the blame game is rife. In this situation, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to pass the buck or to force the responsibility onto one individual party, as this doesn’t drive change. An organisation such as a football club has multiple components, and I firmly believe they must all move in the right direction for it to be successful. And at Wednesday they can, but everyone must be on the same page working together.
There are all sorts of reasons why the above isn’t the case at the club now. And why it hasn’t been for a long time. I could sit and type all day about the factors I think which play a role in the situation, and perhaps, by recognising the issues, you can work to solve them. But, in many instances at Wednesday, these aren’t areas anyone can necessarily affect in the short to mid-term. For example, the pricing structure or the fact that Sheffield United are in the Premier League.
What Sheffield Wednesday, and those who are apart of it, must do is affect what they can in a positive manner. Instead of there being a bitterness about things that we cannot change, and this isn’t necessarily aimed at the fanbase exclusively, we can take steps and start processes which will begin to shift mindsets, the base mentality, and the culture within and on the outside, effectively.
I’m not typing this piece for pats on the back or to be like “look at me, I know the chairman” but I have spent hours and hours with the man previously. His passion and enthusiasm, as well as his sense of humour, are fantastic qualities. He’s a determined individual, too, and these are traits which, together, we should use to our advantage.
I think the chairman is an emotional guy, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, I feel these emotions drive him, and it can cloud his judgement in terms of his actions and what he says. He spends a lot of time reading or hearing about what is said on social media, which for me is a problem. There must be more focus, a shutting off of outside noise and perseverance to stick to the task at hand.
The chairman often says about this or that getting a mention on social media. I think he has made a suggestion he brought Jordan Rhodes because of the fans. And, what about the time the club allowed people to get their money back on their season tickets? The chairman spends too much time reading and reacting, which turns into playing the blame game and negativity down the line. And we, as supporters, especially on social media, know there is perhaps the opportunity to influence him.
Between Garry Monk getting the job and Tony Pulis joining, I’ve seen it. Supporters were suggesting they will or can force the chairman or a decision one way or another. And, in my opinion, this is part of the culture which must stop. The power struggle is unnecessary and unproductive. I’m a firm believer the fanbase is the lifeblood of the club. But, the fans are not on the inside, and they are not privy to the goings-on. Yes, they pay their money, and they have a right to an opinion, but the chairman must make the decisions he feels are best for the club and the situation.
In the past, there have been fans forums and steering group meetings. I’ve been fortunate to attend several, and while they don’t always result in positive actions, the chairman is fantastic at holding court at times. His enthusiasm and personality, the positive parts, come across, and you can’t help but get on board with it.
Over time, in my opinion, there was a desire to pursue confrontation. The club, via the chairman, actively invited fans who may hold negative opionions. Old tweets, for example, were used against those attending, and immediately it creates the wrong vibe. It divides, it doesn’t gel the components together. Since then, I will admit, there is, at times, a resentment which comes across from the chairman. A couple of swipes here and there. But it’s not due to his personality necessarily. It’s because of the relationship between everyone.
I think there must be more communication from the chairman with the fans. But not only more, as quantity over quality isn’t the way, but more engagement and dialogue which is open in terms of it being two ways. There must be more understanding of Sheffield the city, its people and more determination to drive togetherness and making supporters feel a part of his vision and so forth.
In the times of struggle and despair of late, Wednesday fans have been looking for the chairman to lead. He is the top man, he is the captain of the ship, and we need him to stand. He’s proven himself to be a man who will face the music and front up. But, what we need to see is more of him and the opportunity for the fanbase to feel like we’re working with him, and him with us, to help drive change.
At present, because of the situation in terms of the pandemic, it makes everything more challenging. The chairman is at home in Bangkok I believe, but could there be more communication in terms of updates on the club website? Could we have virtual fans forums? Is there a way to open forms of communication where both parties can air grievances, ask questions and then seek resolutions? Or, work towards finding the middle ground?
I often see the chairman receive criticism because of the pricing structure, the points deduction, and some go as far as suggesting he makes decisions to spite fans, such as by hiring Tony Pulis. There is resentment from one side to the other, and it’s not conducive to a brighter and more prosperous future. But, this isn’t something which cannot change, and it isn’t beyond repair.
I planned on typing about all the components and the need for change in one piece, but it makes sense to break them down due to the word count. These articles aren’t a personal attack; we’re all on the same side after all. I think there’s the opportunity to make positive changes, which will begin addressing the culture and so on at the club, repairing relationships along the way.