Silence From The Club Irks The Fans
Wednesday, 7th Aug 2019 12:44
Communication is a key aspect of any business but lately Southampton Football Club seem to be falling well short in this area when it comes to keeping the fans informed about issues around the new shirt and season tickets.
Football clubs have to keep their own counsel in a lot of areas, transfer window's especially, although some fans seem to think the club should be issuing daily bulletins about who they are after and how much money they have to spend, the reality is that it is far better to stay quiet and tell the fans when the business is done so as to not alert other clubs to your plans.
But having excused the club for this, there seems to have been a complete breakdown in communication in areas which directly affect the supporters, specifically the availability of the new kit and the sending out of season tickets and memberships.
Usually the new kit is released for sale at the end of June, last year it was announced on June 16th that it would be on sale in the club stored on the 29th June, well in time for the summer holidays as there are a lot of supporters who like to wear the new shirt when they go on vacation.
This season it was announced in May that it was available to order online ready for the first day of sale on 28th June, a week before it's release it was announced that the kit would be delayed with a short statement.
"Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the Club and our sponsors, the delivery of our new home and away kit has been delayed, meaning it will no longer be ready for purchase on Friday 28th June."
“The club is doing everything possible along with the third parties involved to have our new kits available to our supporters as quickly as possible. We will keep supporters updated on a new on-sale date for all of our 19/20 kits as soon as possible."
“Fans who have already pre-ordered their new kit for delivery on 28th June will be contacted individually by email."
Then deafening silence with no exact reason or indeed managing fans expectations going forward, leaving everyone in the dark and a lot of children disappointed.
Then last Saturday came a brief statement from the club saying that fans would be given a full update in the coming week, yet here we are with three days to go before the season starts and still deafening silence from the club.
Whilst it seems they have nothing concrete to tell us, I cannot see why they could not have issued a more informative statement on Saturday perhaps negating the need for a further statement this week.
Perhaps the news they are about to deliver is not good news for those who have been looking forward to wearing the shirt, but the lack of information has only fuelled rumours.
The main rumour being around the sponsors, many supporters were puzzled when after announcing the club sponsor, the company barely seemed to exist and in some respects you cannot blame them for being so given the situation that arose when Gao Jisheng bought the majority shareholding in the club two years ago.
So many supporters are already suspicious of our new sponsor and surely that is not good when sponsors are looking for good will and exposure to the supporter bank.
It could well be the case that the issue is nothing to do with the sponsor, although it is difficult to come to any other conclusion given that the kit has clearly been manufactured as we are playing in it.
Of course providing enough kit for the team to play in is easy, getting a full run of replica kit of thousands of shirts is not that easy, they have to be fitted into the schedules of the kit manufacturers here, that is not an Under Armour factory but probably a manufacturer in the Far East who is also making kits for other brands and teams.
The emergence of a sponsorless version of the kit for sale on line is further fuelling the fire and at a cheap price it is likely that many supporters will take the opportunity to buy the shirt at a quarter of the price rather than buy the real thing, the bogus version is a very good copy, indeed in China it is an accepted practice that the clothing manufacturing companies run off a few extras that they keep for the home market, something the big brands cannot control and it could be these doing the rounds.
But the main problem for the fans is the lack of communication from the club, both over the last month when there has been silence and now after Saturday's brief statement, any good business will tell you if you want to keep your customers then you don't keep them in the dark, you keep them informed if there is an issue and treat them as valued clients, managing their expectations and perhaps going beyond the call of duty.
In football things are a little different, we as fans can't just buy a Chelsea shirt and change allegiance due to poor service, but that does not make it right, whatever the reason for the non appearance of the shirt's, someone has not looked after the fan/customer.
Given that the overpriced training gear is in stock, perhaps a good discount could have been offered on that for those that had pre ordered the shirt, as the £85 midlayer top can be bought for around the £35 mark for the normal Under Armour version, so there is a good profit margin here, but clearly no one is thinking outside the box here and is only thinking profit not looking after the fans.
The other main gripe is the season tickets, now I will say that it is not completely the club's fault here, posties that I know have told me that local sorting offices have had the season tickets in the warehouse since late last week, but the Royal Mail is sending them out in a staggered schedule, that is understandable as to add a big number of season tickets to the usual postie's round would be unworkable, but it means that some fans got their tickets late last week whilst others are still waiting now.
But then again why did the club wait for so long to send out the tickets, given that the bulk of the tickets were sold before the end of May, surely it would have made sense to start sending them out then.
Again there has been little word from the club apart from the statements last week that they were in the process of being sent out, yes it could be said that the first home game is still 10 days away, but the season ticket has some benefits to it including discounts in the club shop, I could sarcastically say that this is not an issue as there are no shirts to buy, but there is still other things in the shop to buy including training kit.
Perhaps the final gripe from the fans is a small one, so far the squad numbers have not been released, however I can be sarcastic here as although there is only three days to the season start, there are no shirts for the fans to have them put on, so we can all laugh at the irony on this one.
But the overall picture is the same, the communication between the club and it's fans is terrible, after the last couple of seasons there is still a long way to go in rebuilding the trust of the supporters of those running the club, there are many who mistrust the owner, many who will take some convincing that those now running the club day to day know what they are doing, in fact just about the only person at the club who the fans do trust is Ralph Hasenhuttl.
So what has not been needed over the past month or so is the feel good factor that has crept back into the fans over the last few months to be diluted by poor communications on things that may seem trivial to some in the club but are close to the fans hearts, to some buying the shirt and physically holding the new season ticket are symbols of their support and of their love for the club.
Maybe someone in the club will read this article and do something about it, maybe they already have done, but if you don't tell people what you are doing to rectify a situation, then to those people rightly or wrongly you are doing absolutely nothing.
Photo: Action Images
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Matches of Yesteryear - U's v PNE 3/5/15 by wessex_exile
Although not an avid collector, I recently catalogued my collection of football memorabilia and I have 175 items, mostly programmes, some fanzines, and a few ticket stubs which aren’t accompanied by anything else. I have no idea how many more may have been misplaced during house moves, clear-outs etc., but the collection spans nearly 30 years (the earliest is the programme from our 1990 Boxing Day game against Barnet at Layer Rd), and is almost universally Colchester United related (though not quite all of it). I have decided to try and put this to some use, by choosing one at random prior to each match and writing a short article about the match, maybe the programme, and even any personal recollections I have of the game (notwithstanding enforced enfeeblement due to excessive libation). I will try and do this ahead of each game this season, but my apologies in advance if I don’t quite achieve that.
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