“In the silence we can hear the whispers of our soul”. – Deepak Chopra
Twenty days on from our confirmed relegation and the whispers of our soul are now slowly building to a crescendo of discontent aimed at a club, that is giving the impression, that its only plan was to enter the post season, without a plan.
Sometimes it’s good to stay quiet, a lot of the time it’s necessary. Gaging the mood of a fanbase post relegation is tough, most are in some form of grieving process and just need their club to reach out and assure them that all is going to be ok, new jersey releases are great and to be fair our two new jerseys are quality additions, but why didn’t we build on the back of that announcement, on the back of the momentum generated by a successful release and start to re-engage with our supporters? Surely that’s the time to acknowledge the failings of last season and lay out the plan for next season and beyond? On the back of positivity, it becomes easier to acknowledge the negative.
Club owners and staff are essentially like parents to thousands of kids, you know that you cant answer all their questions, but you also need to understand that you have to keep the lines of communication open, otherwise you just end up with an unhappy child who is quiet willing to stamp their feet, throw a tantrum and tell you how much they hate you. As much as you may view them as overstepping their mark, of being rude, unhelpful and belligerent, like any parent you must at least acknowledge their existence, at times humour them and realise that no matter how much they make you angry, if they should pack their bags and walk out, then your life is going to be much harder and lonelier without them around.
City were relegated on the 10th of November, since then all we have heard from the club is the sound of nothing. Players have left and have been released but bar the Ruairi Keating acknowledgement, the club haven’t informed the fan base of any of these moves. The search for a new manager came and went, we pivoted from Ger Nash to Tim Clancy while sacking Liam Buckley in the space of around six hours, but again the Clancy appointment and announcement created a feel-good factor amongst the fan base. That was six days ago and there has been nothing since and I can’t help but feel that another opportunity was missed, there is no great time for the club to address the catastrophe of last season, but at some stage, it will have to be addressed. The time to do so was surely post a good news story? There have been two so far (jersey launch and Clancy appointment) and from a PR standpoint neither have been fully utilised by the club.
Personally, the price of season tickets has never bothered me, they are bought by most people not for value but for convenience, however the release of pricing is always going to create controversy as the only voices who will shout are those who are disenfranchised by the pricing, this in turn again creates controversy and a negative vibe around the club. The mathematicians in the various WhatsApp groups (every group has one) are in their element for an hour, with percentage savings on the cost of buying individual tickets, the real price increase/decrease from last year or 2022 when we were last in the first division, the effective increase/decrease when inflation is taken into account, the real and imagined difference between ours and all Premier Division clubs laid out nicely in a presentable spreadsheet, which is then repeated for the other first division clubs. So, it goes on but the inevitable outcome for the club is a certain amount of negativity from which there is little escape. Would the negativity be as vocal if the club had previously laid out its thought processes for next season, for the next three seasons? If they had announced a few glamour signings and people could see where their season ticket money was going? If they had announced the departure of a few charlatans from last season’s squad, thus ensuring fans know that their season ticket money isn’t going to end up in the bottom of a shorts glass in some Cork nightclub.
Only one thing ever really matters to fans during the off season and that is the formation of the squad that will be expected to win the league next season. Jerseys are nice and its great when the fans like what the club has produced but no one is refusing to go to a game because they don’t like the jersey. Fans are aware enough that new jerseys and season tickets only serve one real purpose, to move your hard-earned cash from its residence in your bank account to new lodgings in the club’s account. Ultimately jersey launches and season ticket pricing benefit the club far more than they benefit the fans, they are announcements designed to benefit the club while pretending to benefit the fans.
Tim Clancy has had only six days in the job, so it is too early to expect incoming player announcements but the sooner one or two happen the sooner the angst currently being suffered by the fan base will start to lift. Personally, I would have liked to have seen an intro video with Tim by now, a few minutes that show he understands what is expected next season and that he has a plan in place to deliver those expectations. The good will and momentum from his appointment has worn off to again be replaced by grumbling about season ticket prices and a lack of signings. We have not taken advantage of the opportunity to deliver positive messages to the fan base when they have presented themselves.
Dermot Usher is due to meet FORAS members on the 6th of December, I won’t be there so will have to rely on second hand information, as will 99% of the total fanbase. I will be honest, the whole speaking to only one section of the fan base dosent sit well with me but I can’t attend because I have something else on that night, not because I am on a one-man protest. Its not Dermot Ushers fault, he is fulfilling the terms of his takeover but what has FORAS done to entitle its members to a privileged meeting with the club owner? Apart from agreeing to sell the club to him for €1, I would argue absolutely nothing. I’m not anti FORAS, but the people who ultimately failed to run the club in a sustainable manner being rewarded with private meetings with the club owner, will never sit well with me. I am one of those people and I know this won’t be a very popular view, but I feel like we all contributed to the poor running of the football club, so why should we be rewarded with a meeting that we can attend but other fans can’t? There are nights where I still fall asleep thinking, why didn’t we ask more questions? Why didn’t we push harder? Why did we fail to stop what some of us thought for over eighteen months was inevitable? Is it good enough to say because we couldn’t? Because the structures were not in place to allow us to? I don’t think so to be honest, for me it will always boil down to one thing, we were all FORAS, it was all our responsibility and ultimately, we all failed, to see that failure, in a way, now rewarded, is something that I just can’t reconcile. So, in my world, any meeting should be one with all fans who wish to attend, not just with the ones who ultimately had to sell the club to ensure its survival. There should be no privilege within any club’s fan base.
Whatever is said at that meeting needs to be repeated by the owner to the media so it can reach all fans of the club, Tim Clancy needs a media introduction as well, a trip to RedFM and 96 wouldn’t go astray (I’m leaving one outlet out here for very obvious reasons), a sit down with the Echo and the Examiner. Fans need to put a face and a voice to the name and Tim wont have faced the level of local scrutiny before that he will face next year, I’m assured that it takes some getting used to even for the most experienced of managers, so it will also help him get a feel for how it works down here but more importantly for the level of expectation that will reside on his shoulders.
Relegation is harder on fans then anyone else but all most fans need is a metaphorical hand around their shoulder while their club tells them and shows them that everything will be ok, but so far, all our souls are whispering, “Cork City, where the fuck are you?”