Fans group set for first meeting
WITH footballers heading off to join up with their international squads, you could be forgiven for thinking we’ve got a quiet week in the offing. In fact, we might actually be on the brink of a momentous one.
For The Albion Assembly convenes on Wednesday for its first meeting proper, following the initial meet and greet of a couple of months back. It does so with us edging closer towards securing another season in the Premier League, with all the possibilities that opens up.
The Assembly is a step towards making the football club more accountable, more open, more democratic and, above all, placing it in closer touch with the supporters, a relationship which, I think we can all agree, has been strained these last couple of years.
Whenever such initiatives come to the fore, they are inevitably greeted with a degree of cynicism, and why not. As the old counter-culture slogan had it, "If voting changed anything they’d make it illegal" and so there is plenty of suspicion attached to the club’s motives in setting it up. Is it a sop to try and quieten discontent? Is it serious? Will it make any difference?
If you want my opinion, God alone knows why you would, then on the basis of the initial get together, of talking to its members and to those who set it up, I think it has a chance to do just that. I can hear Mandy Rice-Davies – look it up kids, it’s what Google’s for – saying "Well you would wouldn’t you?" and there is some justification in that given I’m a club employee.
The Assembly appears to be made up of a pretty diverse mix of people, well meaning supporters who want the best for the club, with plenty of forcefully opinionated heads who are not willing to let this descend into a talking shop. I detect a real sense of purpose about the Assembly members and a degree of willingness to listen on the part of the club.
Let’s not be childish though. There are going to be plenty of issues on which club and Assembly butt heads and, of course, the club has the final say. It’s not all going to be happy chocolate and peace and love. With a bit of luck, we might see a proper ruck or two, because if we do, that’s how we will prove the process is working.
The Albion Assembly is mobilising online – follow them on twitter @WBAFCAssembly – and I would urge all supporters to get on board with them. Send them your suggestions, your gripes, your grievances. Put your understandable cynicism to one side for a few months and give them the benefit of the doubt and give then whatever help you can.
Because whatever you may think, the club has opened up a genuine channel of communication with the supporters. Having done so, it is incumbent on those not in the Assembly to also take it seriously and give your representatives your support. I know it’s much easier, much cooler to sit on the sidelines and moan, but bugger being cool eh?
The opportunity being offered is too important for that at the minute. Speak sensibly, intelligently, give vent to your experiences, your ambitions, your reasons for following your club, what it is that you want from it, and from the wider game, because if you don’t, your window of opportunity will close.
Too often the two sides of the game have slung abuse at one another. Now is the time to communicate. We are, for the first time in generations, beginning to look to supporters for answers, realising that top down solutions aren’t the only way forward, that listening to the heart and the soul might be beneficial too. Give it a chance.
It’s up to you. Be a part of the change you want to see.