Letter to America

Last updated : 24 April 2003 By Michael Morris

The article was copied onto the Message Board by a friend of the author who was amazed at the feedback and has allowed it to be published on the website ahead of it's print run in the States next week. It's one mans opinion of his football club at the current time.

"You’ll have to excuse the lack of financial doctrine within this mornings article, but I feel the need to write about a personal situ and one which spells many lessons for business readers far and wide.

The truth is that I am demoralized and depressed, my beloved Cardiff City have stuck the knife in where it hurts and look set for the lottery of the play offs, pending another calamity which could spell the end of that last chance saloon as well.

A club transformed in the last 3 years, millions spent, ridiculous hype, glory hunters, cult of the leader, fragmentation, in fighting, violence, capitulation. Not necessarily in that order, but you know what I mean.

The post mortem is needed now, today. To slip out of the play off’s is unthinkable. But the truth is this season tells a story, the game last night tells a story, a story that would be set for a Hollywood block buster.

As the last fans trudged back to the escorted coaches last night, the club needs to take a long hard look at itself. It proclaims to be a sleeping giant, a non-spoken divine right to be a premiership outfit. In 1993 18,000 watched us play Burnley a similar number Shrewsbury. This season we struggled for a regular 13,000. It’s 2 years since Sam Hammam came to the club and in business terms the bank would be expecting to see a turn in results or at least a movement toward more prosperous times.

I can’t see it here. From the stewards, the girls in the ticket office, the assistants in the club shop, the bar staff, the reception staff and surprisingly the chief executive, not forgetting the manager and the players. These are all ambassadors of the club I have had contact with in the last 12 months and not one impressed me, on not one occasion. The players simply do not deserve to go up, a damming indictment and a huge insult to Mr Hamamm and his personal sacrifices. They are in my eyes a disgrace, not fit to wear the shirt and to grace the hallowed turf. Now, I wouldn’t mind if they were middle of the road in terms of ability and wage packet but they are not, Prior will pick up close to £400k this year Mr Earnshaw won’t be far behind after bonuses.

Who pays this, well it gets passed onto the fans (simple business economics), mind you if you complain about the product, you’ll be branded a moron and a loser, Mr Temme a graduate of the Saddam Hussein school of customer service…..he should have been fired on the spot. No doubt he retired to his office to pen another letter to selected fans about lost hot dog revenue and foul language, has he heard his chairman speak or ever entered a competitive office let alone the NYSE!!

Farcical in the extreme, other facets of the club could do with some form of training; please and thank you would be nice when purchasing club items, a can I help you when I become bemused by the tagliatelli like ticketing arrangements, memberships, certain areas, certain coaches, yes you can, no your wife can’t…..kind of attitude.

But who really cares apart from us, the fans, who cares what we think, no one, give us some respect please. In the last 6 months the standard of football has been awful given the players here, the transfers speculative, the heady heights of 3rd only achieved as others around us performed as badly as us, now they have their houses in order the truth is out and we fall, not so gracefully.

Our prize assets look in danger of falling into what I call “Zamora” syndrome, sure they are great players, not outstanding and they play at a fairly decent standard. For a premiership club they are an expensive risk in these turbulent footballing times, and so most will shy away or invest equivalent funds in tried and tested players.

Five years ago I traveled to Darlington with the possibility of a basement play off place, and great day and all my dreams met. No complaining that we were in division 3, no complaining of the 8 hr trip back to London, I was happy, as I was with my trips to Halifax, Doncaster, Carlisle and Hull, throughout the early 90’s.

You see the truth is this, the club has raised expectations, the club has proclaimed promotions, five year plans, new stadia, millions on players, revolutionary facilities so on it goes. Yet they haven’t delivered, (in the main).They promised these things and haven’t produced, they invited the pressure on themselves, and now at the fruition of fans’ criticism they shout and scream about expecting too much, call us morons, write letters, but you see Mr Temme you told us how it would be, promotion you said, no problem you said, happy days you said. More fool us for being blind to the reality of football, we should have taken it with a pinch of salt and spoken to Wolves fans, Derby fans, even Stoke fans who took years to get where they wanted. Wigan’s investment programme began 4 years ago, only now has a margin of success been met.

Do I think things will change? Maybe. But I won’t be spending £25 on a ticket this Saturday to line the pockets of Mr Barker & Co.

You see they provide a product that is like no other, Cardiff City will be Cardiff City no matter who owns it, who plays for the club, I’m a Cardiff fan, what that means at any given time is different. But my expectations aren’t, neither are the majority of other “lifer’s”…..we want respect and we want a some pride and passion and desire, of the type we show in our loyalty, the saddest fact of all is who cares if we lose, but please, look like you give a damn."

The Evangelist is London Business Director and a fortnightly freelance columnist for the Washington Business Post, you can contact him at Al78@breathe.com