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It’s for precise this reason my friends say it’s not ‘Turkey’ its ‘Turkiye’ in their native tongues. But “why Turkey”? Ouch, that question pains me. This because, Steve Bellis (ex-“County” Marketing Manager) utters these same words in a not so professional video that we jointly made for a ‘no-star’ hotel which we managed to save in that Country. We actually received a nomination from the Chartered Institute of Marketing for this venture under the theming of “Marketing on a shoestring”. The video even featured in my English wedding (as opposed to the Turkish one – to the same wife!) courtesy of Martin Bellis (ex-“County” Commercial Department and the original Vernon Bear) who had it broadcast with humorous dubbing to boot. 

The story is well-known about being taken to Turkey by Steve many years ago. Later came my adoption of a Turkish footballer and then marriage to a Turk. I now own a business in that Country advising football clubs such as Galatasaray, Fenerbache and Besiktas. My father in law, Necati, cherishes his visits to Edgeley Park and fondly recalls the warmth of welcome and singing to the Turkish party on their first ever visit. Bilen, my brother-in-law, has caught the bug and shares my infection for “County”. Even when we had Premier League tickets he would turn them down in preference for attending the heady heights of the likes of Spotland etc (away games). Maybe there should be an extended family version of our hymn to “The scarf my brother-in-law wore”? Some might say his ailment is now contagious, it’s certainly incurable, as he’s started a Stockport County-branded blog in Turkey, in Turkish – which can now boast, after a recent airing, ‘as seen on TV’. County fans get everywhere.

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Out of pocket

No surprise when latest intelligence suggests that it’s getting more expensive to watch and attend football matches. I read with interest the latest “Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Price Index” which has said that in the last 24 months prices have risen by more than 36 percent.

Just how much appreciation is there ‘club-wide’ on the state of the economy. Football is just one option as people have to make tough decisions on their discretionary, leisure spend – or not spend at all – as belts tighten and families feel the pain in their pockets. Contrary to fans’ wishes, the mortgage, food and fuel might be necessary priorities when selecting where that hard-earned cash goes.

More than one in four fans will cut back on the number of games they go to this season as the UK’s economic slowdown spreads to football. Promotional offers, loyalty schemes, discounts and tiered pricing will be evaluated and implemented for the ‘original’ fans. Yet the ‘prawn sandwich brigade’ may buck the trend and prop up other revenue streams.

QPR has put up prices by 40 percent next season as they return to the top flight of English football. Manchester United’s top price season ticket has hit £950 for just 19 games and fans must pay extra for domestic cup and European competitions. Surely, there’s potential, especially lower down the leagues, for an innovative approach to ticket pricing and other match day purchasing? I’m available if anyone wants to talk.

FC United continues with its “name your price” strategy on season tickets: radical but with some success.

In the 83rd minute…….

Stockport County FC is an English football club based in Cheshire.  The Club was formed in 1883.  So where am I going with this?

There’s more than an occassional reference to Turkey in my blogging, though don’t think for one minute that this is divorced in anyway from a connection with football. Well there’s another story.

What are the first images that are conjured up by a reference to ‘communal fan celebrations’ on a matchday. The ‘poznan’ now symbolises Manchester City after mimicking the trade mark of some Poles. Bouncing ‘boing boing baggies’ watching West Bromwich Albion. Derby County doing the ‘conga’ when 4-0 down at Cardiff City. These are just a few. Why not post your own comment about those that come to mind?

One of the clubs that I’m helping is FC United. They promote a 90:90 protocol. That is 90% of the supporters, sing for 90% of the match.

Trabazonspor (ex-club of striker, Kevin Campbell) in Turkey, celebrates every match on 61 minutes. There is a frenzy, irrespective of the scoreline where the fans just go mad in a tribal fashion. Something to behold – flares, chanting, streamers, animation, movement, nobody stands still etc etc. The 61 in this case relates to that region’s allocated code number. I just wonder if an English club might adopt this stance, not as a regional denomination but say a commemoration to the birth of the club that its supporters follow. Maybe “County” would dance to the 83rd minute in testimony to the history of this famous club (and perhaps a recognition as it tries to return to the Football League). I’ll leave you to ponder on this with a video clip of Trabazon’s fans in………….guess which minute!

Gannon mania

So the head ‘lady’ has relinquished her throne. Without the Gibbons in post, the chances of a Jim Gannon return may have lessened. Not only were they his strongest advocates at Board-level, but close family friends. They even adopted his cat!

His first stint in English management was a success with League 2 survival from the ‘jaws of extinction’ – followed by promotion via a Wembley-play off against Rochdale. This time certainly heralded the development of some good young players before the financial woes and need to sell them. Remember, Tommy Rowe, Anthony Pilkington, Liam Dickinson to name but three. The latter’s boots are proudly displayed in our offices. Were these players the results of ‘JG’ or do Peter Ward (assistant) or Alan Lord (youth) deserve the credit?

But can a return to a former managerial seat work? Not always. Gannon was released by the Administrator as an immediate cost-cutting. His remuneration package at that time could most definitely not fit with a package suitable for the Blue Square Premier League hierarchy. His character has been questioned by some former colleagues. The CV and trail from latter posts at Motherwell, Peterborough and Port Vale have shown different traits. It has been suggested that he wouldn’t speak to SKY in interviews whilst at Edgeley Park, because of a dispute over his installation of satellite dish.

He remains a fans favourite. The final note has to go to our ex-Uruguayan maestro, Danny Bergara (R.I.P), when asked about the qualities of Jim Gannon by another manager:…”I hear he’s a bit volatile?”. Danny’s reply: “Oh yes, very volatile, he can play anywhere”.