Chief exec could spoil feel-good factor at the Amex
2013 is just seven days old, but what a cracking start to the year it has been on Planet Albion already! It started in style with a surprising 3-0 win away at Ipswich, followed by the announcement that my favourite player, Will Buckley had signed a new four year deal amidst lots of speculation linking him to The Premier League.
If that wasn’t exciting enough, Vicente is close to a return, we signed a Latvian International by the name of Vitalijs Maksimenko, knocked Newcastle out of The FA Cup and landed ourselves a plum tie at home to either Swansea, or who most people want, Arsenal!
We are not done there either, we are close to signing an Argentinean striker whose nickname is The Cyclone, which alone I think is enough reason to sign him! On top of that, my friends and favourite cheerleaders, Gully’s Girls are making their return albeit in smaller numbers and in a different role.
As I said, what a start to the year! Hopefully it will keep the moaners at bay for a while, it was getting tiresome reading/hearing non stop drivel, when in reality we are not actually doing that badly. Yes we could have done better, but hearing some fans booing the team off the pitch I though was a bit ridiculous.
The only moan I would probably have is the direction the club (not team) is going. My feelings were summed up by the banner that was controversially unveiled at The Amex during the Newcastle game. It simply said “Fans NOT Customers.”
It was a reference to new club chief exec, Paul Barber who infamously referred to us all as “customers.” I agree that the club needs to find ways to make profits and cut losses, but referring to us as customers was a little insulting, especially when you consider what the fans did in the 1990s to save the clubs very existence, and we now play our games in The Community Stadium.
The Newcastle game was one of the clear indicators that club is trying to make as much profit as possible. It resulted in lots of regular stadium goers watching the game on TV, a broadcast that netted the club an extra £130,000. With prices set as they were, the attendance was 21,000. 5,500 less than the last home game, also on TV, and 4,000 less than our average attendance.
We do need more money if we are to progress in stature and compete at a higher level, but it is still nice to feel wanted as a fan, as opposed to a reference number on a database. The fans are the heartbeat of the club, without us what is the point of football? Changes are needed yes, but it’s how the club go about it which is vitally important. There has to be a balance which I’m sure can be found which can leave the vast majority happy!
Back to being positive. The result at Ipswich was a turn up for the books. We were on a bad run, McCarthy’s men were the form team in the division so to win 3-0 was a highly satisfying way to start the year. I was also delighted to see Mackail-Smith back on the score sheet!
The best news for me so far was without doubt the news that William Buckley signed a new contract extension keeping him with us until 2017. He is one of the most exciting players I’ve ever seen play for us. I love describing him as “swashbuckling” as he is tremendous to watch. His chant is also a favourite amongst fans at matches as well as late night in pubs.
The Newcastle game was also a delight to watch. Maybe the best we have played all season. Granted the opposition were poor, maybe the worst we have faced all season, but we still played well. I love skills and Orlandi’s goal was just that. From Bridge getting the ball out of nowhere, to Orlandi’s outrageous lift over the defender and finish, a joy to behold.
It was also great to rub it in at Alan Pardew, who despite Brighton winning League One (in 2002) over his Reading side by six points (and outclassing them 3-0 at Withdean), he still claimed his side were the better of us two. Yeah I still remember!
The win over Newcastle also gave us a plum home tie in the next round of The FA Cup against either Swansea or Arsenal. Personally I would love it to be Arsenal. I have a massive respect for Arsene Wenger who I think single handedly changed football in England with all the science and dieting stuff.
I’m just hoping that the powers that be at the club get the pricing structure right if it is Arsenal. I guess that means I hope we are treated as fans rather than customers. It would be amazing to see The Amex bursting with the fans at full volume getting behind the team as they have a go at one of the Premier League greats!