The “P” Word
The ‘P’ word – Overconfidence following the Al-Qadi takeover?
Friday 19th February may well go down as being the most important day in our long history as a football club. Amid the excitement & hysteria, we as fans should try to remember where we have come from, and to ensure that we show respect and humility in the months and years ahead.
Wael Al-Qadi has started out life at his new club saying all the right things. He has indicated a long term commitment to the club as well as reassuring us that our existing mounting debts will be taken care of. He has shown an approachability and charisma that has been missing from our club at boardroom level for many years.
The ‘Net Worth’ discussions and comparisons already seem to rumble on much like children discussing between each other whose Dad would win in a fight. None of us are adequately knowledgeable to make an astute observation of the Al-Qadi’s funds, nor can we be assured at this stage of how much they are willing to invest in the club. Bragging about our new found riches is disrespectful to the Al-Qadi family. Yes, the reality of modern football is that the wealth of an owner does often directly correlate with success on the pitch, but we shouldn’t be spending their money for them. Nothing said to date indicates that we are about to go out and make big money signings.
None of us really knows what the next few seasons will hold. The “P” word is being banded about like confetti without a single improvement or initiative being implemented yet. Anyone who thinks it is just a case of throwing money at the club until we end up in the highest tier of English football is simply wrong. Should significant investment materialise, Financial Fair Play will become a big barrier to us making quick progress through the divisions.
In short, we are going to find that regardless of how much cash we have, our turnover will seriously limit how much we are able to spend on wages. This is why it is so important that we improve all aspects of our infrastructure. Our commercial department has been way off what it should be for some time. Our ticketing is cumbersome and awkward at the best of times. Our match day facilities for food and drink have not improved at all for many years.
Anyone who needs a quick crash course in the difficulty of translating huge investment into overnight success needs only to glance over the river at our neighbours. Putting rivalries aside, they are building a world class set-up brick by brick but are a textbook example of how nothing is guaranteed in the modern game.
Much like Bristol City, for us, the construction of a fit for purpose stadium is almost inevitably going to be the “golden bullet”, or at least the catalyst for future success. We have been swift to rejoice in the news of our takeover and the seeming announcement that the UWE will be built, but while a new ground does seem extremely likely, and the existing planning permission may be attractive to our new owners, they have committed to evaluating the deal thoroughly before proceeding. It would be presumptuous to simply assume they will go ahead with the UWE Stadium in its current form based on the information we have.
The “P” word we should be thinking about, more than any other, is patience.
Change will not happen overnight. With the huge news we received this week it is easy to be distracted from the situation we are currently in.
Galvanised by a charismatic, no nonsense manager, we have a fantastic squad which is widely appreciated as being the most hard working, together and spirited bunch to wear the blue and white quarters in many years. Promotion is absolutely a possibility.
People talk about loyalty in football. They say there is none any more. We do however have a new owner who has thrown his backing entirely behind our manager. We need to do the same with our squad. Talk of buying our way up the leagues is disrespectful to players who have worked so incredibly hard to get us out of the depths of the conference and into a very strong position in League Two. We can’t practice a double standard of criticising players for chasing the most lucrative contacts available and then be ready to disregard players so we can replace them with costlier alternatives.
Put your seatbelts on. Sit back. Enjoy the ride. This is the most exciting development at Bristol Rovers in many many years. We must remember where we have come from. We must stay loyal to those who have, over the last 18 months, given us our club back.
We must respect our new owners as people. As long as they continue to treat us fans with the respect they have shown so far, we must continue to treat them with the appreciation and respect they deserve, and not as an open wallet.