Although the atmosphere after 90 minutes at Loftus Road could only be described as euphoric on Wednesday night, 30 minutes before the final whistle were real signs of discontent among the home crowd. As the fourth official raised the electronic board displaying the number 17 of club captain Joey Barton, a chorus of jeers arose from the stands, a clear signal of dissatisfaction at the midfielder’s display.
Booing is not really something we want to hear on a regular basis within the various stadia of the Premier League, yet fans have the right to voice their opinion, as the game moves further and further away from the ordinary supporter. The majority of fans attending a certain club’s matches are regulars, parting with their hard earned wages to follow the team with which they share a bond. Whether this affiliation was chosen, forced or purely accidental, the relationship between a fan and a football club is an extremely powerful one, creating a cause to focus upon and an escape from the rigours of day-to-day life. So to see this team underperforming with off-field issues, such is the case at QPR, then it’s completely understandable for the crowd to show frustration, particularly when a player who has been noticeably disappointing is earning more in a week than the average fan can dream of over the curse of one year.
After the game, the man who replaced Barton, and scored the dramatic late winner, Jamie Mackie came out in defence of his teammate:
“You don’t like to see that but Joey’s an immensely strong character so I don’t think we need to worry about it,
“He’s our captain, our leader. He never hides, whether he’s having a good or a bad game. He’s probably got a bigger part to play than anyone [in QPR’s fight against relegation]. He wants us to win games whether he is banging the goals in or not and we are lucky to have him.” He told the Guardian.
Barton himself also spoke out through Twitter, acknowledging his sub-par display, stating it was: “The worst of my career.” The ex-Newcastle United star’s use of the social networking site makes him an even greater target for the abuse of fans due to his open criticism of many aspects of football and indeed society. So by voicing his discontent to a wide audience it almost makes criticising him justifiable, as if it weren’t it would be double standards on his part.
It is not just Barton who has been the subject of such displays, with the trend of booing on the rise across the league. Fans at Stamford Bridge have been vocal in their showing of displeasure, while similar noises have been heard at the Emirates among other grounds. It is justifiable, with the fans paying in the region of £40-£50, on average, for a Premier League ticket, on top of travel expenses and refreshments. Take into account that many adults often take one or two children with them, and the cost escalates. So if their team performs below par, playing poor football, why should fans be criticised for airing their opinions?
All-in-all fans have the right to their say, after all it is they who contribute heavily to the financial support of the club, purchasing tickets and merchandise. Booing isn’t an attractive trait, but it’s likely to continue.
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