With the first team squad off in Switzerland on their pre-season training camp and not even the sniff of a, much needed, new signing, I found myself wondering at times if I would have anything to write about this week, but a couple of interventions from the club’s major shareholder Vincent Tan have ensured that this is not the case. Firstly, Mr Tan was present , along with acting club Chairman Simon Lim and Director Michael Isaac, at the launch of what appears to be a feeder club type arrangement between Cardiff City and Bosnian club FK Sarajevo during the week. This story talks of a“mutual player exchange” between the two clubs and also of discussions between Mr Tan and representatives from the Croatian lower league side HNK Dubrovnik regarding a possible take over of that club – quite how relevant both of these developments will be to Cardiff City remains to be seen.
It was Mr Tan’s comments following a ceremony in which he received an honorary Doctorate from the University of South Wales which really created headlines though. The good news came in the revelation that a resolution of the long running Langston loan note saga may be just days away following progress made in recent talks between the club and Langston’s “representative”, Sam Hammam. Strong rumours that any settlement would have the down side of Mr Hammam returning to the club in some way (from my perspective, I would hope it would be in some sort of honorary, but non influential position role like Club President) would be balanced by news that Mr Tan still appears to be willing to convert the sum he is owed following loans to the club over the past four years into equity.
Mr Tan had plenty to say on a variety of subjects (as shown in this piece in the local media) and, initial attention at least, was, inevitably, centred on his description of some supporters as being “ungrateful” and “disruptive” over the re-branding issue. Now, before going on to give an opinion on what he said, it needs to be said that the whole issue of the change of colours and badge was put into perspective somewhat by the news that Mr Tan’s nephew had been killed in a car accident in Malaysia on Friday and, worse still, the victim’s father in law had passed away hours later at the hospital where members of the family had arrived to claim the body.
So, it’s against a backdrop of offering Vincent Tan and his family and friends commiserations for their losses that I say so much of what he came out with just offers further proof that he doesn’t get how the relationship between a person and “their” football team comes about and what that bond comprises of once it is formed. In saying that, I notice that, in the Wales Online piece I’ve used here at least, there is no mention of lucky red kits when Mr Tan gives his explanation as to why we went up – entirely correctly, in my opinion at least, he says that the £15 million spent on the squad last season was the main reason for our success.
As for “ungrateful” and “disruptive” elements amongst the club’s support, Mr Tan’s view is that those against him are “about five per cent”. Now, without knowing what he defines as “against him” (for example, would someone like me who wears blue to games, does not buy club merchandise any more and would be likely to support any peaceful protest against the re-branding as long as it didn’t have an adverse effect on the team be classed as “against him”?), it’s hard to comment on the accuracy of what he Mr Tan says, but lets assume that he is right for now and that 95% of the club’s support are, broadly speaking, with him to the extent that they can “live with” the re-branding.
Given that this 95% would run into six figures (or maybe even seven), you are going to see a wide range of degrees of acceptance of the change to red within it. At one end of that scale you would have those who have embraced the re-brand to the extent that they wear red shirts to matches and defend the changes on supporters’ forums and media sites – there is no way they would ever contemplate boycotting the club in the way that some members of Mr Tan’s “ungrateful” and disruptive” 5% have done.
However, it is interesting to see the number of times people whose views are probably described as “pro red” by some preface their remarks with “of course, I’d prefer us to play in blue”. There we have it, the truth that I say is at the real heart of the whole-brand debate in just nine words – how many of Vincent Tan’s 95% actually are happier seeing us play in red than blue? There’s no way of getting an exact figure of course, but my fairly educated guess based on fifty years of supporting Cardiff City is that the breakdown in favour of blue would be higher than 95%/5%, in fact I’d go for something like 99.9%/0.1%!
Vincent Tan said “But like anything in life and in democracy you won’t have 100 per cent support.” this week and, of course, he’s right. I’m sure there are some out there who prefer to see Cardiff City playing in red rather than blue (I can definitely think of someone who does!), but when one such person has the means to inflict his will on every one else for whom the club means something so that it is the view of the tiny minority which prevails, does that mark him out as a true democrat – I’d say the complete opposite applies actually.
There was also an embarrassing consequence springing from Mr Tan’s remarks yesterday when the club were forced into publishing this retraction concerning comments regarding our “bid” for Victor Wanyama after Celtic had made their annoyance clear at Mr Tan’s claim that we pulled out of the transfer after the Scottish club raised the fee they wanted for the player.
With the headlines as far as new players are concerned being made by who we weren’t signing than who we were, it would have been good to have had some news that the arrival of reinforcements for the squad was imminent, but, up until yesterday at least, there was absolutely nothing for supporters to get their teeth into. That situation changed somewhat over the last twenty four hours with this story originating in Portugal – now it needs to be said that there was a denial that we were after Oliveira in the local press this week and we all know how accurate the British media has been when it comes to identifying new Cardiff City signings this summer, but, perhaps. this has more credence than most of what we have read about our transfer targets over the past three months. Finally, and on a similar note, it was reported in the French media that Auxerre’s Raphaël Calvet (a French Under 18 international centre back) is to have a trial with us during the coming week.