A different kind of boycott?

CoymayI’ve made reference to Vincent Tan and that night in January 2012 when we beat Crystal Palace to reach the League Cup Final once or twice on here before, but it is something that I do wonder about from time to time as I consider what has happened to the club since then. Tan was at Wembley to watch us take on Blackpool in the 2010 Play Off Final, but I think I’m right in saying that he did not go to another City match after that until that night against Palace – it was therefore his first visit to Cardiff City Stadium for a game.

What an occasion it was for his first home game as well and it was topped off by the tumultuous reception Tan and former Chairman TG got as they walked around the pitch after the match. Someone with Vincent Tan’s wealth is not going to want for much in life, but I can’t help thinking he had not experienced anything like that walk around the pitch before in his life – to have 90% of a crowd of about 26,000 treating you like a hero must be an exhilarating feeling and such was the goodwill shown towards the man who was widely credited with saving the club, that he could have been forgiven for thinking that he would have the Cardiff fanbase right behind him for the duration of his relationship with the club.

Within about six weeks, City’s owner had taken the decision to become more “hands on” at the club and it wasn’t long before we learned the consequences of this decision – would we have remained just another one of Mr Tan’s projects that he was prepared to leave in the hands of others if it had not been for what he experienced on his first visit to a game in Cardiff? I think we might well have done.

There may have been those among the 24,000 or so City fans in the crowd that night who have never wanted Vincent Tan involved with the club and refused to join in with the applause he received, but they can’t have amounted to many and I’d bet virtually all of those who now despise the man so much were there cheering him to the echo.

Our owner would have had to be a very odd person indeed if he didn’t want to experience more occasions like the one he had been through after the Palace game and, surely, such thoughts would have been going through his mind as he set the wheels in motion for the change of kit and badge that was to completely change the way he was perceived, not just in Cardiff, but throughout the football world.

It has been said that Tan took soundings off people at the club about the impact that the rebrand would have, but, based on what we have seen over the last two and a half years or so, I’m not sure anything that indicated there would be problems would have been listened to. Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty convinced Tan thought he was fireproof at Cardiff and so the process which has torn the club asunder (that may sound overly dramatic, but I strongly believe it to be true) kicked into motion.

From this - Vincent Tan and  TG bask in the applause of grateful City fans after their club had beaten Crystal Palace in the League Cup Semi Final in January 2012.*

From this – Vincent Tan and TG bask in the applause of grateful City fans after their club had beaten Crystal Palace in the League Cup Semi Final in January 2012.*

Trying to leave personal feelings out of this and attempting to be objective, there have been two things that I contend have blighted the period since our owner became more hands on, one of which he could do little about in the short to medium term and the other something that could have been avoided. Firstly, right from his first public pronouncements about the club, it’s been  pretty clear that he knew little about the game of football, both on and off the pitch, and, more importantly, what the local football club means to the area in which it is based and how much things, which may not mean much to an outsider, are valued by those that follow it – this is not a peculiarly British thing, but, when it comes to their football club, even the most progressive and flexible individuals tend to turn into dyed in the wool traditionalists!

Secondly, the insistence on not using people with football financial management experience in senior administrative positions at the club has been at the root of problems such as the row over transfer spending in the summer of 2013 when you would like to think the whole mess could have been nipped in the bud with an intervention from a CEO who knew how football budgets worked.

Going back to the first of these points, Vincent Tan could not be blamed for his lack of relevant knowledge back in 2012, but, even if you accept his contention in this article last month (which I don’t) that ” I think I can run and manage a football club very well.”, this newly acquired knowledge does not stretch to an understanding of his football club’s heritage and traditions that I talked about earlier and this, I believe, is what is at the heart of the complete breakdown of the relationship between owner and supporters that is killing the club I love.

The really sad thing about this is that I’m sure that Vincent Tan and all of the club’s supporters would both dearly like to have more nights like that League Cup Semi Final nearly three years ago, but whereas 20,000 plus want us to be playing in blue when they occur, one man insists we will be in red and the passing of time is, if anything, hardening his stance.

Certainly, the words ““What else can the fans do? They just don’t support, it’s not going to change a lot” taken from the Guardian article linked above sound like someone who believes he has won the battle over the rebrand, but if he truly feels he has, why is he so reluctant  to come to a City match this season?

To this - Vincent Tan is booed by home supporters after the win over Fulham in March (does anyone really believe the reaction would be any different if he turned up against Rotherham in eleven days time and did the same thing again?)*

To this – Vincent Tan is booed by home supporters after the win over Fulham in March (does anyone really believe the reaction would be any different if he turned up against Rotherham in eleven days time and did the same thing again?)*

I know there was talk of him having a minor operation a while ago, but the interview he had with Sky Sports News a couple of months back included clips of Mr Tan swimming in the ocean off the Malaysian coast and around the same time the Echo reported he had confirmed he would be coming to Cardiff sometime in October, so it would appear that whatever health issues he had are not keeping him from coming to matches and yet he still hasn’t done so.

I’ll be putting a theory forward as to why this is happening shortly, but I’d like to set a bit of a background to it first. Early on in the 2012/13 season, there was not much blue being worn by fans at all in the stadium at all, but someone at the club (I have strong suspicions as to who!) decided that things weren’t red enough and decided to give everyone attending a game in February 2013 a free red scarf. Maybe it was a coincidence, but, ever since then, the number of people wearing blue to games has gradually been rising until we have reached the current situation whereby seeing someone wearing red (especially this season’s shirt) is a novelty.

Now there are those who maintain that wearing blue to games has had no impact whatsoever, but I have always thought that Vincent Tan has been surprisingly thin skinned about this – I think seeing lots of blue and hearing anti rebrand songs genuinely annoys him.

If Vincent Tan once had visions of entertaining the elite of Malaysian  society while his football team took on and beat the best teams in the Premier League with City in their red shirts and thousands of supporters wearing the same colour as they sang his name, then he must know now that it isn’t going to happen. Given the way his expensively assembled team are performing, the only way we are going to see a Premier League side playing at Cardiff in the next eighteen months is if we draw one in one of the cup competitions or play one in a pre season friendly and while the team might still be in red, the supporters resolutely stick to blue – as for singing his name, that may happen, but there’ll be plenty of expletives to go with it as well.

No, as the natives grew more restless and stroppy as the campaign went on and his team sunk to their relegation with barely a whimper, 2013/14 didn’t work out like it was supposed to for Mr Tan – he became someone to be ridiculed in the media and not even his subsequent partial vindication in the dispute with Messrs Mackay and Moody has really changed this. Yet, despite everything, in his recent media pronouncements, Tan has sounded like someone who has routed his enemies, be they supporters of the club he owns or former managers and other club employees.

If this is the case, then perhaps Mr Tan might like to test whether he is right by actually coming along to a game. If he did, I think one of two things would happen. Either he would be greeted by a crowd that would be fired up by the prospect of finally being able to unload this season’s frustrations on him (large numbers of them would be wearing blue and singing unflattering songs about him) or he would be greeted by an apathetic crowd (mostly wearing blue) that only roused themselves for the 19.27 chorus of we’ll always be blue as they watched a side where the whole is a great deal less than the sum of their parts go about trying to prove that football is not part of the entertainment business. Either way, Mr Tan would probably conclude that he’d be better off giving Cardiff City Stadium a wide berth for the foreseeable future as he resumes the boycott he started in August of the dysfunctional club he has created.

* pictures courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/people/joncandy/


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8 Responses to A different kind of boycott?

  1. Mike Cadwgan says:

    Perhaps it’s because I’m not a billionaire but I don’t understand why Mr Tan can’t see that he would have more likelihood of becoming a hero if he reverted the teams colours back to blue (albeit with maybe a red logo..)
    The whole business is sad for the club and sad for himself that he just doesn’t understand.
    Oh well let’s have a chorus of ‘we’ll always be blue’ – singing is good for you.

  2. Graham says:

    An excellent analysis – sadly, football has become an opportunity for money-making on the grand scale .. and nowhere – literally nowhere else in the whole world – is this more the case than in Britain, well the English part of it .. I mean, of course, the Premier League – when we went up to it, Tan must have thought that yes, many dreams were really coming true .. he has a business reputation for making money, lots of it, by taking chances and trusting to luck – and it must have seemed as if he’d got it right yet again .. AND he was being personally adored by the supporters for bankrolling this exciting money-making exercise .. but whereas TG actually understood what football and football clubs are all about, Tan didn’t – and still doesn’t. And this awful state of affairs may well continue until Tan goes – and yes, I understand all the arguments about utter financial disaster if he does .. unless, of course, someone, somehow, somewhere can persuade him to sit down and listen to and try to understand why we – the supporters of CCFC – can’t support, and show support, to the man who, monetarily, owns our Club, unless he shows us he cares about what we care about .. and a simple gesture, just a splash of blue perhaps, could achieve that.
    Until then, we’ll have the extraordinary spectacle, unique in world football, which I experience every time I travel from London to support my team and go to a bar inside the stadium before the game : NOBODY THERE IS WEARING A SHIRT THE SAME COLOUR AS THE SHIRTS WHICH THEIR TEAM WILL BE WEARING .. I hope Vincent Tan can be persuaded that his money will be safer, and his mind will be calmer {since he says his family keeps advising him to give up this first club in his expanding football-club empire}, if he makes a gesture which will persuade supporters to cheer him again ..
    .. well, no harm in hoping?

  3. Graham smith says:

    When will enough be enough and real fans simply turn their backs on what was their team? Empty terraces MAY influence our beloved owner. I am increasingly less interested in following a team I have supported for 60 years. If you were there when Brian scored that goal these are very sad days.

  4. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thank you for the replies to yesterday’s piece. Mike, the way Vincent Tan won’t let go regarding Malky Mackay shows he is a stubborn man and I believe he would see any backing down as a loss of face on his part. Even if I’m wrong though and he decided enough was enough, I don’t think all City fans would be prepared to forgive and forget – there’d be plenty who would, but I don’t see Tan ever getting a reception like the one he had in that Palace game again.
    Graham T, I agree about TG – I think he may have been a bit of a controlling influence if Tan had allowed him to be, but his leaving looks suspiciously like the politician who uses the “I want to spend more time with my family” excuse when they lose their Cabinet job (did he jump or was he pushed?). Your last paragraph does a superb job of showing the ridiculous situation we find ourselves in. At the moment, there is nothing to indicate that the change to red has made the club any money and, having been so eager to attribute our promotion to “lucky red”, our subsequent demotion and becalmed situation in a lower position than the one we occupied when we last wore blue makes any defence of the rebrand on superstitious grounds looks even barmier than normal – I can think of no even vaguely logical reason why we are playing in red.
    Graham S, I’ve always said that, while I would be willing to take part in a one off organised boycott of a game, I couldn’t just stop going to matches completely like some have done. However, I would say that this season, the notion of no longer watching City play is not as unthinkable as it has been in the past.
    In my piece on the Reading game, I said the result is more important than the performance as far as I’m concerned, but that view was almost stretched beyond breaking point last Friday. I’ll see what the club have to say early in the New Year when details of season tickets for 15/16 are released, but renewing won’t be the automatic decision it has been in the past. Going to games doesn’t have the same feel any more and throughout this year the football has been poor and the atmosphere crap – I now look forward to international games more because with them I’m watching a team and nation I can relate to, I find that so hard to do now with the team and club that were always my first footballing love.

  5. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks Paul for your detailed analysis, and for exhibiting something that is always apparent in everything you write.
    I refer to your bred-in-the-bone GOOD MANNERS.
    That I disagree with a fair amount of your thoughtful words above, matters not a jot.
    What strikes me is that you always call him MISTER Tan. I salute you for that. And if he is misguided – as I concede that he was over the colour change* – then at least you stop well short of calling him “Tan” like as though he was the defendant in a murder trial !!
    * Remember how Yorkshiremen were always characterised as being stubborn to the nth degree. Yet those blunt Leeds United supporters who accepted the move to all white, seem now like positive FREE THINKERS compared to so many Cardiff fans whose herd mentality makes them non-receptive to an admittedly strange move from the greatest benefactor Cardiff City have ever had.
    Stop moving deckchairs on what could be your Titanic, dear City fans! There are far more important issues.
    And yet, if we find ourselves unable to embrace the views of Vincent (and hey, I do not doubt the sincerity of any contributors to your blog, and if they feel the way they feel, I defend to the death their right to air their opinions, as I hope they allow me mine), let us at least do so in a tone of moderation.

  6. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Morning Dai. First of all, sorry for not replying earlier – I don’t get notifications of any comments made about my posts on here any more since I switched e-mail addresses.

    Thank you for complimenting me about my manners, but I don’t think I deserve your praise because I slip into calling our owner “Tan” from time to time on here.

    I think there is a tendency with some to blame Vincent Tan for everything that goes wrong at the club and in lots of ways I can understand that (I do it myself at times), but, ever since we got promoted, there have been plenty of others on and off the pitch at the club who have not performed well enough.

    Looking back at last Friday, it was easily the most disconnected I’ve felt from the team at a game in the two and a half years since the rebrand – I came out of the ground feeling that and a look the messageboard reaction to the match told me I was far from alone in feeling that way.

    City games aren’t much fun at the moment for all sorts of reasons, but, the main one has to be the rebrand – it’s the over riding reason why so many question whether they are watching the team they grew up supporting any more.

    Leaving aside us “customers” though, I think it’s got to the stage where the rebrand might be counter productive in terms of whatever it is that Mr Tan has planned for the club and if red was lucky for us in the first year following the change in May 2012, it has long since stopped being so.

  7. Adrian Lloyd Pickrell says:

    Paul, sorry for the late comment..I have just returned today. A superb piece of writing that reflects exactly how I feel.
    Well done for putting it so perfectly into words.

    I too am feeling more and more disconnected and like Graham Smith I’m becomming less interested. This saddens me deeply as I remember not so long ago always having a 200 pulse and a thumping heart when City played. At the time of the rebrand I really did not believe a colour change would affect me that much…but it’s getting worse with every red shirted game that goes by.

    Best regards

  8. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Nice to hear from you again Adrian, hope you are well. I’m in a more upbeat frame of mind after watching City teams win three matches in the last three days while scoring nine times, but I must admit that, for reasons I cannot begin to explain, I find it so much sadder watching our kids play in red than I do the first team. Also, did you see that there’s yet another story in the Daily Mail today regarding Malky Mackay


    I said on a messageboard this morning that someone (we all know who!) is really scraping the bottom of the barrel now – people used to say that Vincent Tan would be a hero if he would only just change us back to blue, but I’m not sure that’s true any more.

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