It's Time For NFFC To Show A Little Respect
I feel compelled to write this to express my disappointment out how the club is handling its public relations at present. The 'them & us' feeling between fans and board seems to have been growing year upon year due to the total lack of transparency and unwillingness to speak to the fans. Mr Doughty will do an interview twice a year. Mr Arthur seems to do one once every now and again and 9 times out of 10 its an unmitigated PR disaster. Whether it is naming transfer targets, disagreeing with the manager, upsetting other clubs or shambolic marketing ploys, take your pick. Does Mr Doughty not feel that the fans, loyal paying customers, deserve a little more respect? Or is he hoping that blind faith is going to sell season tickets this year? I think Ive got about a month left to renew my seats for the 13th time in a row. 2 seats at around £400 average per year means a total spend to date of £9600 plus merchandise, food, a shambolic tour of America, travel and cup games. I'm estimating that's going to be well over the £15000 mark in 10 years, most companies would see that as valuable custom and be more than happy to talk to its clients and take their feelings into consideration. I don't think its too much to ask that Forest speak to the fans more often and tell us exactly what the plans are to move this club forward. 10-12years as owner isn't it now? Surely he'd have expected more progress than to get us back into the Championship top 6 where we were when he took over anyway. Its Mr Doughty's money, and he keeps telling us, through John Pelling, that he's pumped in the best part of £60m worth of loans, but what exactly have we got to show for it? Im sorry but there a lot less wealthy chairmen doing a lot more in terms of relative success. Yet when criticised in January for not spending, the response was to effectively threaten the fans that if they weren't nice to Mr Doughty then he would have to consider his financial support. Is it any wonder there is a 'them & us' attitude if 95% of the time he refuses to speak to the fans and then when he does its to ask them to stop being nasty. Respect has to be earned in my book not just given because somebody is considerably more wealthy than I am.
Anyway I digress, this wasn't meant as a character assassination, its Mr Doughty's club and I'm painfully aware he will continue to do as he pleases. But recent events merely highlight the lack of any kind of Public Relations Department at Forest. The fans feel they are being kept in the dark whether Billy Davies is even still manager. Journalists feel let down that Forest are happy for them to write about the club in a positive manner but when asking about Billy's future all they receive is a blank 'No Comment' from the club. I know the policy is not to comment on 'speculation' but surely they can see there is concern amongst supporters and that being linked with a different manager in the national press is hardly helping the situation. Even Garry Birtles, a former player, thinks the club is deeply disrespecting the fans by refusing to comment. I suppose his thoughts aren't important to Mr Doughty either? Pleat seems to be the only football man with a valid opinion. It would take once sentence to appease supporters and probably increase the current Season Ticket sales rate, 'Yes Billy Davies will be Forest manager next season' or 'Billy has left the club by mutual consent'. The uncertainty is not doing the fans, the players, perspective transfer targets or anyone else any favours whatsoever! If the board cant get on with Billy and don't trust him to spend money then sack him. We need unity and harmony at the club so people can work together towards progress. We are never going to achieve the fabled 'consistent Premiership status' if they cant even agree at management level what the best way forward is.
On top of the apparent lack of unity it also seems that the players get treated with the same levels of respect the fans do. I was told months ago that Kelvin Wilson didn't join Celtic for the money but because of the way his contract negotiations were conducted by the club. This also seems to be the case with Nathan Tyson who's father has explained that he received a contract offer in the post. In the post? Id expect that if I worked for a big faceless corporation and they were sending out redundancy notifications. I wouldn't expect that from a club Ive served to the best of my ability for the last 5-6years regardless of whether I was being retained or not. Its just basic human decency and respect, something the club seems to be lacking. If its Mr Arthurs job to run the club on a day to day basis then maybe he should look at how things are done. How many new players are going to want to come here when they see how loyal players are treated? I suggest Mr Arthur takes a long hard look at how he conducts the clubs business, Im sure players, fans and other clubs; Swansea, Cardiff & Doncaster to name but a few, are not over impressed with the 'don't you know who we are' attitude of the Forest board. I suggest maybe they get in a Director of Football rather than a consultant who can show Mr Arthur how a football club should actually be run. Its not like Notts Cricket Club have fallen to bits since he left is it?
If Tyson and Wilson were treated this way, I can only assume that the likes of Earnshaw, Moussi, Bennett and Adebola also got letters in the post offering them a contract or a P45. I'm also guessing that the likes of Nialle Rodney, as he's only a youngster, would have been released by email or maybe text message? Is that why Commons left for nothing? Was he offered new terms written on the back of a KFC napkin? It makes me wonder.
So what is the way forward? If the fans, journalists and players are being treated with no respect I can only assume that Billy and his staff are too. I get the distinct impression from Billy that he knows he's fighting a losing battle in the board room. He refers to the acquisitions panel, you say it doesn't exist, he refers to lack of support & he talks about seeing out the last year of his contract. Are they the words of a man happy in his job, a man with a long term future at a club he loves and respects? Id say no, Id say they are the words of a man stuck in a contract he doesn't want to break. If Billy and the board do not see eye to eye then they may as well sack him and bring in somebody who will sing from the same hymn sheet. Disharmony and unrest is only ever a recipe for disaster. I'm honest enough to say that my personal preference would be to bring in a football man to run the club and build bridges with fans, media and players alike. That's no personal disrespect to Mr Arthur, Ive never even met the man, but I think you'd be hard pushed to describe his tenure as CEO as successful. Doing the same thing year after year with little success isn't normally how any large business goes about things. Id wager that Mr Arthur is very glad his friend owns the club and not a PLC who vote in a CEO based on results.
I'm sure this will fall on deaf ears at the club, if its even read at all. However if it doesn't end up in the recycle bin I will look forward to receiving my letter saying that fans who dare to ask questions will not be welcome next season. I of course will have 'No comment'
Take a long hard look at things gentlemen, treat people with respect and you will see that you gain respect back. Treat people with contempt and you may find that you are watching football on your own in your stadium at your club.