If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over the past 18 months it’s that Twitter is the perfect tool for footballers to shoot themselves in the foot with, from Ashley Cole calling the “FA a bunch of tw*ts” to James McClean launching a rant against the Republic of Ireland boss for not selecting him.
But while I like the way Twitter allows footballers to show off more of their personality to their fans, as ridiculous wage packets continue to separate these superstars from everyday life, I believe little good can come from football owners being on Twitter.
With the 24 hour nature of football reporting and the constant need for sports stories, one or two Premier League clubs are always on the brink of a so-called ‘crisis’. With fans likely to vent anger after every bad showing, I think owners have a responsibility to try and remove themselves from the emotion of the game.
Neil Warnock while one of the most unsympathetic figures in football believed that QPR owner Tony Fernandes’s interactions with fans got him the sack from the club. While the merits of Hughes’ job versus what Warnock achieved in the Premier League with Rangers, is a debate for another time, there has to be a responsibility from owners to separate themselves from fans and think more clearly and with more perspective on the goings on, on and off the pitch at a football club.
I find the way Fernandes panders to fans on Twitter asking them about potential transfers and opinions on performances almost as unnerving as the London club’s likely unsustainable wage bill. As a football fan if I go to a game and see my team lose, and play badly I’m in a bad mood for at least 48 hours, football owners need to try and separate themselves from this mentality and act with a longer strategy in place. Fernandes in his defence is trying to act like a reasonable owner constantly defending Mark Hughes, but I fear that is due to high financial backing he’s already given the Welshman and a fear if say, Harry Redknapp was brought in he’d have to fund another spending spree.
Another owner who often interacts with fans is David Gold at West Ham. Gold rightly or wrongly often gives the impression of a fairly fickle owner. The former co-owner of Birmingham City often gives off the impression of somebody who believes he knows more than he does about football. During West Ham’s relegation season he allowed television cameras to film him watching the team. The BBC Match of the Day Two coverage didn’t paint him in a good light, he publicly criticised the manager’s team selection and sounded like somebody talking above his station.
I worry him being on Twitter will allow him to get over-excited by fans pandering to his ego and once again believe he is as apt at managing a football club as somebody as meticulous as Sam Allardyce. In Gold’s defence Allardyce was a risky but inspired appointment, his demeanour and persona has often lead to him being mocked, while there were also fears of a culture clash, due to playing his style of football at Upton Park. But for my money the former Bolton boss remains one of the most underrated managers in the country.
To my knowledge the only other football owner with a Twitter account is John W. Henry whose account seems like a very professional deal. The American only tweets sporadically, leaving me to doubt whether its actually him or somebody controlling his account for him. He also doesn’t reply to fans avoiding the toxic interaction, but as previous events have shown – maybe that’s not such a bad idea.