When a local man takes over his local football team, all seems well for a while.
So you’re sitting there, just flicking through your local paper one day and next to the advert for Latex Luvvlies Private Massage, you spot a plea from your local kids’ football team asking for support. As you can see the pitch that they play on from your front room window, and you’ve watched them whilst out walking the dog a few times, you give them a call.
The phone call reveals they’re in debt: they’re running out of cash to pay for their pitch, the kit is in drastic need of replacement, and they are down to their last match ball. They need financial help from wherever they can get it.
You’re not exactly loaded, but you do have some money saved, and as you are a football fan and feel some connection towards this team, you agree to ‘loan’ them the cash to pay for their pitch until then end of the season, a new kit, and a couple of match balls. In return, you get to put the name of your plumbing firm across the new shirts, and are appointed Chairman.
Your first job is to try and get some money into the club, so you cajole the parents into parting with cash to help out, as after all, it is their kids playing for the team. The parents however, have seen that you have a few bob, and as you’ve been generous in the past, who’s to say you won’t bail them out again in the future? You even offer to buy a bacon butty for every parent who turns up to help out, provide support, and transport the team to their next away game, but after twenty of them take advantage of your kind offer, the following week it’s back to the same old half dozen parents on the touchline again.
You try some local firms you deal with, so see if they’d like to provide some backing, and in return you’ll print their names in a newsletter that you’ll hand out at the next home game, and email to all the parents. Their take on it however, is as nobody ever turns up to watch, and nobody is willing to help you run the team, what’s the point in stumping up cash for advertising that nobody will ever see?
There are a handful of other local teams that have good facilities, team tracksuits, new equipment, and an army of parents ready to lend a hand. Most of the best kids in the area are attracted to these teams as, who want to play for a team is struggling for cash and nobody wants to watch?
Then out of the blue, you receive a phone call from the chairman of a club you played a few weeks ago. He says he’d love your left back and right winger to play for his team and asks if you can pass their phone numbers onto him, or if you’ll speak to them on his behalf. As this is a wealthy team from an affluent area, you strike a deal with him: if he agrees to allow you to use one of his pitches free of charge next season, you’ll speak to the kids’ parents and tell them they’ve more chance of going on to better things if they move to this other team.
The following weekend you break the news to the parent and lads that the team’s two best players have moved on, but in return you get the use of a pitch free of charge for the whole of next season, and as a result you’ve written off the loan you gave them.
After the game, the parents remonstrate with you. They are disgusted that you’ve allowed the best players to leave just to save you a few quid. They accuse you of using them to act as an advertisement for your business, and a couple of them say they’d be better off without you.
At this point you wonder why you even bothered. You bailed them out, wrote off their debt to you, and ensured they could continue playing next season without any financial worry. You’ve tried to attract support but nobody seems interested unless there’s something on offer for them. Ungrateful isn’t a strong enough word.
If you changed it from a plumbers to a sport retailer, does the story sound familiar to anyone?
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