This is Norwich City, not Sin City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Fan power has once again proved itself to be the biggest force in football.
Norwich City fans who saw the partnership with Asian online betting company BK8 as an unholy alliance which didn’t sit at all comfortably with the club’s much treasured values, can celebrate a victory, in a battle they didn't want in the first place.
Their powerful views and words helped prompt a major rethink inside Carrow Road and the result is that BK8 will no longer appear on the front of the players’ shirts for all the world to see and, worse, to laugh at.
City have been embarrassed by what some described as a massive PR own goal. In the words of Chris Sutton, great Norwich player turned media pundit – you’re better than this.
Which is why City hunkered down and went through the paperwork line by line to extricate themselves from a deal which went badly wrong.
BK8’s promotional activity involved using scantily clad women to advertise its wares. That’s not the Norwich City way, nor the way of its supporters. It’s a family club. This is not Sleaze United.
Not once has there been a financial value put on the deal – commercial sensitivities preclude that – but City will have given up a substantial sum of money.
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But what is better – a few more quid in the stretched coffers, or the reputation of a football club that takes years to build, but just one swish of a fountain pen to ruin?
The proliferation of gambling sponsors in English football is unsavoury to many, but football is a sport that is often accused of turning a blind eye to morality. It now needs the government to introduce more stringent rules on gambling companies’ advertising to ensure that the sport cleans up its act.
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Of course, in this contrary world we live in, the undoubted adverse publicity could now be turned upside down and City, should they wish to do so, will come out of it with the faint smell of roses. They won’t – I fancy they will remain contrite about the whole situation. But their next move will be hugely important and if they get it right they can properly now claim to have done the right thing – albeit at the second attempt.
They will be praised for their honesty, for their willingness to write off much-needed revenue, for their recognition that they had done wrong. Very wrong.
If that’s the case, then let it be. Let the fans 'savour' their moment, let the fans pat themselves on the back and congratulate themselves on fan power winning through. Just as it did when the European Super League plan was scrapped (for now at least) because football fans said 'enough is enough'.
Norwich City fans 'won' because they shouted loud and long and clear. On the ‘other side’ of the fence was the football club. Some would have turned a deaf ear, pocketed the cash and stuck two fingers up to their supporters.
But credit where it is due - and yes, that may be a little difficult at the moment - but your football club listened. They admitted they were wrong. They found an answer. The answer you wanted. And they acted upon it.
City fans didn’t need to break into the stadium and throw smoke bombs to protest against the deal. What City fans did wasn’t necessarily about greed or cash. They wanted some common decency. And they got it.
Social media has a lot to answer for, but in this case, it helped an army of peaceful but forceful protestors have a voice and band together for good.
This is football the Norwich City way.
It has been a distasteful few days, but it has ended in some sort of peace. Time to mend a few bridges before August 14.
And then play and watch football the way it is supposed to be.