I’ll be honest that when I first saw the pictures, a series of ideas for cynical tweets just lined up in my head.
“LITERALLY papering over the cracks”
“Got to make the stadium look nice for Friday’s live on TV protest”
“Did they put this on the club credit card?”
As my friend Mark Watson pointed out in our conversation on his one off Fat Lads Go In Goal #BSHLOUT podcast, the timing of things right now does seem to be remarkable.
We threaten to protest, and there is a meeting between fans and the board where they finally spill the beans on the stadium.
There’s more threats of protest for the Peterborough game and Barry Fry is bought on to talk to fans in the executive suites.
I posted something about the probability of the club spending money on security for the “elusive Mr King” Wang Yaohui and how the Chairman of BSHL Zhao Wenqing should say something… and lo and behold, one day later we get a statement on BCFC.com from Zhao himself, reeking of PR spin.
Now there are more threats of protest on Friday, live on Sky, beamed around the world… and lo and behold, the stadium is being tarted up.
It doesn’t take much effort to remain jaded; but as I said on the above podcast I have to hope that in all this that I am wrong, that things will be better. I will reiterate here that I will be absolutely happy if that is indeed the case.
A small part of me wonders how long staff at the club have pushed for stuff like this wrap to be done only to be denied funding. I’m sure they feel the same way we do about how the stadium looks, and I can’t believe that it is something that they are happy with.
And with cynical eyes, it’s not hard to imagine why funding was denied.
After all, this kind of action is cosmetic isn’t it?
What does it matter, even if it would possibly cost less than it would cost to keep Harlee Dean in dog biscuits and coats for a week?
I can only speak for myself here, but this is where I think the Blues hierarchy have fallen into the expensive football trap that costs so many owners so much money.
I get that the hardest kind of anger and negativity to deal with (especially online) is a perceived lack of investment in a team; and that bringing in players can cause the most positive reactions and feeling among fans too.
However, that kind of positivity is fleeting and it soon evaporates if results on the pitch don’t come quickly.
Look at the Harry Redknapp trolley dash; everyone excited yet ten games or so into the season Redknapp was gone and Blues were a £1.75M payoff worse off.
Look at the early Aitor Karanka days; Wilfbombs, former CEO Ren Xuandong going billy big bollocks on Twitter and “HMS Piss The League” memes galore.
Yet within months the shrugging Spaniard was on his way as results faltered and the team stared relegation in the face yet again.
I think we have to accept that Technical Director Craig Gardner was right in saying that this year is all about sorting all the shit out and just staying in this division. If that means shipping out players on loan to get fat contracts off the book, then so be it.
However, with a tired looking stadium that is half-closed due to ever-worsening repair issues there was always going to be that feeling that the money had run out.
As more and more staff members leave and more and more departments within the club get farmed out to third party companies, it’s not hard to understand why people think that this is almost the time that the lights go out permanently.
Spending money on cosmetic changes might not feel great from an accountancy point of view, but it helps people feel good about the club and is much better for it than paying out for a director’s Netflix subscription or handbag addiction.
Showing fans that the people running the club are still proud to do so helps us to believe in them and that they’re here with us to ride out this storm.
I’ll freely admit that I’m personally done and that I just want the club to be sold – but I’m just one guy and I’ve been wrong about plenty before.
Small steps like this are a start – but they are only a start.
As with any positive step I’m happy to applaud it – but it’s just a small addition to the positive side of a scale weighed down by years of negative actions.
I look forward to seeing what the board and owners do next in their road to redemption.