No Unity As Individuals Push For Elland Road Boycotts TSS March 3, 2012 Leeds United 95 Comments Firstly, I’d like to make clear that I write this piece as an individual fan, Elland Road season ticket holder and nothing more. I’m not going to speak to you in the collective term The Scratching Shed because that header not only has multiple writers beneath it, but (as one irate reader pointed out recently) has been taken by some to be representative of our entire fanbase. This was never anyone’s intention, but the unavoidable reality is, that people will link to our posts and refer to us as “the view of Leeds United fans”. That’s true of all blogs, and I’ve been guilty of such generalisation myself when linking to the fansites and blogs of other teams. There has been a movement recently for fans to boycott games and cut Ken Bates off financially. Some fans have argued that this is the endgame for those of us opposed to Ken Bates leadership, and that it’s the only card we have left to play that could realistically bring his reign to an end. The predicted outcome of this move is one I would welcome and celebrate. Since day one I have been strongly opposed to Ken Bates because the situation we currently find ourselves in was all too predictable. While ever Ken Bates is in charge, the fans will have no input into the club whatsoever and anyone that raises objections will be shot down in an embarrassing rant that reflects badly on the club we love. Our owner loves the attention this role brings more than he will ever love the club itself. Moreover, Ken Bates’ history is not as successful as he likes to pretend. The Chelsea Village project he’s trying to emulate at Elland Road was a disaster for the football club, leaving fans expressing the same concerns we are now. Ultimately, the project made very little money, was tied up in offshore holding companies and had only a negative effect on Chelsea FC. Football was only ever a sideshow to fund Ken Bates’ side-projects. When Ken Bates instructed Peter Kenyon to find him a new investor (which resulted in Roman Abramovich’s buy out) Chelsea were crippled by £80m worth of debts and on the verge of bankruptcy. A decade ago I used to laugh at my Chelsea supporting Dad for his club’s troubles as he spent every waking minute complaining about Ken Bates’ misguided priorities, secrecy, lack of respect for fans, refusal to accept an alternative opinion and extortionate pricing policies. Sound familiar? Anyway, I digress… The issue here is suggested boycotts of Leeds United fixtures, an argument that has been made by plenty of individual fans and a couple of the other Leeds United bloggers, most notably Michael Green on Clarke One Nil. I appreciate that everyone has a right to express their own opinion, but things seem to have reached an entirely new level. People are no longer telling me their opinions, but are instead, telling me what to do. I’m not a particularly stubborn person, I’m not opposed to the idea of boycotts per se and I’m not arguing for arguments sake, but what gives anyone the right to tell others how to support their club? I hope this doesn’t come across as season ticket arrogance, but I happen to know for a fact that at least two of the people that have demanded I and other fans boycott matches do not hold season tickets themselves, and I’d be willing to bet good money that the majority of those calling for boycotts are in the same position. This isn’t a pissing contest, I’m not trying to suggest anyone is a “bigger fan” than anyone else, but the differing situations we’re all in should be taken into consideration. Not turning up and paying thirty odd quid isn’t a particularly difficult choice for anyone to make, but refusing to use a season ticket I’ve already paid money for is a different thing entirely. It’s also pointless! If the ultimate goal is to cut Ken Bates off financially then it’s far too late. And if the goal is a unified show of defiance, then that’s pointless too. Bates couldn’t care less, people have been protesting against him for decades. But none of this really bothers me too much, what bothers me is that fans are being hassled by others into making decisions. When fans point blank refuse to give up their trips to Elland Road, they’re insulted and belittled, their support for the club and even their own intelligence is questioned. And this is exactly what Ken Bates wants, divide and conquer is how he’s ruled all along. You’re just pawns in his little games. An individual crusade will only serve to alienate people further. Like me, fans will become annoyed by their own fans. I’m not going to be told how to support my club by anyone, I have the ability to make such decisions myself and won’t be swayed by people telling me that I’m to blame for Ken Bates’ continued reign because I continue to support him financially (which incidentally, I don’t. I haven’t renewed but that’s beside the point). I strongly believe change is needed at Elland Road, but I’m not arrogant enough to think I can speak on behalf of every single supporter that shares that belief. I don’t have all the answers, I’m just one individual watching fans tear lumps out of each other (metaphorically speaking) week in, week out because they want the same thing as I do, but can’t agree on the best course of action. This is why democracy is necessary. It’s why we need an organisation that can collect the ideas and thoughts of individuals, and turn them into a collective stance for us all. I joined Leeds United Supporters Trust for that very reason, and would urge you all to stop this unproductive squabbling and air your views in a collective forum of your peers. Take the pettiness away from the messageboards and terraces, share your thoughts at the regular meetings and then stand side-by-side with your fellow fans campaigning for change through the means determined by the majority. We need unity. People running around shouting at each other will get us nowhere.