Southampton, Blackburn, Cardiff City and the Necessity of Protest

Posted by on Jan 22, 2013 in Uncategorized | 14 Comments
Southampton, Blackburn, Cardiff City and the Necessity of Protest
Image available under Creative Commons (c) myheimu

Listening to radio coverage of last night’s Southampton v Everton match, the atmosphere at St. Mary’s seemed very subdued.

No wonder, given the sacking of Nigel Adkins on Friday — the firing of a man who had gained two promotions and taken Saints to a position of relative comfort outside the relegation zone was — and let’s not get mealy mouthed about it — an absolute outrage.

But a large number of fans, while sympathising with the ex-physio, felt the most important thing was to GET BEHIND THE TEAM.

They’re wrong.

Other supporters have been less supine — even if Chelsea supporters’ warm welcome for Rafael Benà­tez is rooted in ostrich like denial of Didier Drogba’s tendency to go to ground.

Take Blackburn Rovers — this Spring saw a fissure develop between an ignorant press and the body of the Ewood Park support.

According to the former, the most important thing was to back the manager to ensure the preservation of Rovers’ Premier League status.

But for the latter, the shame of being dragged across the chicken run floor topped everything — and this season’s events have seen the faithful singing from an ever decreasing berg.

Take Leeds United — neoliberal outsiders apologised for the excesses of the Ken Bates regime claiming the ends justified the means.

But with the whites treading water in the Championship, the efforts of bloggers Scratching Shed and others have finally forced the poisonous smurf from power.

Take, above all, Cardiff City.

Sitting pretty with 60 points they may be, but of the last two Bluebirds fans I have encountered, both have demurred – one has torn up his season ticket, the other is still going, but under duress and with a very nasty taste in his mouth.

I won’t invoke Godwin’s Law — backing the decisions your club’s hierarchy make isn’t akin to marching the goosestep down the KaufingerstraàŸe circa 1933.

But the utter mindlessness of these actions won’t end unless protest is long and loud. Southampton fans need to follow the example of those at Blackburn or the very soul of their club will be in danger.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 50 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.


  1. Ozz
    January 22, 2013

    What is happening at Rovers is an absolute disgrace. On Saturday (Charlton home game) the owners rolled up in a fleet of Rolls Royce and Bentleys, expecting to be welcomed with open arms! They have piece by piece dismantled one of the best run and most respected football operations in England. The fans need to send a clear and sustained message-Sell the club to someone who can run us properly, and as co chairman of the Rovers Supporters Trust I suggest they start by talking to us about this.

  2. Rob
    January 22, 2013

    There is only one form of effective protest, of course, and that’s voting with you feet. As soon as you pay to get in, any protest is futile. Most club owners only want one thing from the fans – give them that, and your argument is lost.

  3. robson
    January 22, 2013

    I understand all teams mentioned (being a leeds united fan) but I cannot work out the anger the cardiff fan had expressed? Their team are playing brilliant football, 10 points above 2nd place leicester and he is still not happy? It’s the best form cardiff have had in a long time and he is angry at that? Mad.

    • b jones
      January 22, 2013

      Good point…and I think you will find that individual is very much in the minority now. How much difference does shirt colour actually make? When you think about it, half of the 46 games each year are played in anything but blue. Riverside, the founding club played in brown and gold. And to be honest, when the Malaysians have got bored with UK football and moved on we will almost certainly go back to blue. For now we are closer to solvency and closer to the Premier League

      • Lloyd
        January 22, 2013

        Closer to solvency? Aren’t the owners charging 7% interest, or something similar, for the money they’re putting into the club?

  4. Husky Red
    January 22, 2013

    Nottingham Forest make another good case study. On the one hand, when the former owner sacked the combative manager who had been the width of a post from a playoff final for the second year, and installed a disastrous regime in Steve McClaren prompting a relegation scrap, fan protest played a part in both manager going (good thing) but the owner stepping down as chairman (ok thing) and stating no more investment until the club sold (disastrous thing). A small group of trolls had been appalling to him and his family on twitter.
    Our then chief exec said to those agitating for change ‘be careful what you wish for’

    The owners untimely death and the loss of key players for free meant no senior defenders on the books 4 weeks before this season.

    New Kuwaiti ownership seemed to bring miracles: A well respected passing manager, an assembly of good players with something to prove, and a commitment to build the long term not chase promotion or bust. Yet the last 3 weeks have seen the manager sacked (then 1 point off the playoffs after thumping Leeds 4-2), the installation of an unpopular manager, supposedly to accelerate promotion (we are now not 1 but 5 points off the playoffs) and now the CEO, club ambassador, and head of scouting all fired mid transfer window.

    Should fans protest? I think it depends. When, in forests case, your wage bill is more than your income, taking on the owner is a risky business. Many fans feel we have switched blueprint from a ‘Swansea’ to more of a QPR approach, which will ultimately be more costly and less sustainable, but to be honest there is little we can do that would not be shooting ourselves in the foot. And forest have done enough of that for the last few seasons.

  5. Mike Fitzer
    January 23, 2013

    What exactly is the problem with Cardiff? Sitting at the top. Poised for promotion. Quality loans and signings. So what if the uniform changed a bit? Who cares? It’s not the dismantling of a club, it’s the reinvention of one. I think people fear the foreign takeover of a proud domesticated sport. If that’s the case, lobby to keep things local. Cap player wages, make affordable all around for ticket holders, owner organizations and make it about the love of the sport again and not about how much cash one can infuse. Until that happens… love it or leave it. I am however, baffled by the Adkins dismissal. That is just weird.

  6. Norwegian Bluebird
    January 23, 2013

    Great article!

    I’m sorry, but those who think that the disgraceful happenings at Cardiff City has only to do with the club colors being changed haven’t got a clue. It’s about principles and about selling the soul of the club.

    It no longer feels like the Cardiff City I’ve been supporting for over twenty years and it’s impossible to be excited and happy about anything concerning Cardiff City at the moment. It’s also frustrating and sad to see how the majority of the fans are doing nothing to protest.

  7. Sanchez_76
    January 24, 2013

    Sorry but I have to disagree about Southampton fans protesting – no from of protest is going to see Nigel Adkins reinstated, maybe they’re just smart enough to realise that for a protest at this stage is utterly futile.

    There was plenty of protest and dissent at St Marys in order to remove the previous regime (board level) it left us in administration and two relegations. Saints were extremely lucky to find a wealthy benefactor in Markus Liebherr and his rottweiler banker Nicola Cortese. If results go badly then Cortese will feel the wrath during the rest of the season. For now though I believe the fans are right to support their team.

    Nigel Adkins is gone but his contribution to Southampton’s recent rise will not be forgotten by the supporters..

    • Matt
      January 30, 2013

      Completely agree Sanchez-79. I might also add that other fans of other clubs should keep their noses out of our business. They have no real idea about what they are talking about in relation to our clubs situation past and present.. We have been through the mill in the last 7 years and this is nothing. This type of seemingly quick fire decision (sacking Adkins) happens week in week out in any big corporate business the world over, so why fans think football should be any different is beyond me. The people at the top of any business set the targets, make the decisions and roll with it. Time always tells if it was right or not. It was proven at the Everton game that our fans will back our team come what may and not be draw into board room politics, because it really does get you (the club or team) nowhere. Support your team whatever.

  8. Nicky
    January 24, 2013

    Agree with you in principle, Rob, but the situation at St Mary’s is different. In an emotional state last Friday, I was among those calling for the protest that didn’t materialise – though as a season ticket holder, there is little I can do by way of meaningful protest now; they have my money. But context is key, and while Blackburn supporters have endured a torrid time, we’ve seen our club move from L1 to the Premiership under the leadership/decision-making/iron rule of Cortese. Agree or disagree with the change (& I REALLY didn’t – the manner of it sits especially uncomfortably) Saints supporters realise we must give benefit of the doubt to the regime which has stabilised our club & taken us forward. What we wanted – & what you saw on Monday – was our chance to pay tribute to Nigel Adkins, and to continue to back our team. Life & football goes on… COYR.

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