Maybe you know me by name, maybe not. We’ve met a couple of times over the years. I’ve been a season ticket holder and a Southsider since 2011. I was a frequent match goer since 2008. I’ve written column about supporter culture on 86 Forever and on AFTN for the past four years. I compose chants and help organize tifo. I’ve had two seasons tickets for the past eight years and next year I’ve decided to let one go.
This is the first time I’ve written to you and perhaps it’s no surprise why you’re hearing from me.
Today was a complete shambles. The inability of the leadership of this club to develop a strong culture and identity was laid bare for all to see. As a supporter I’m completely embarrassed by this and yet I’m also relieved because its about time we had some honesty and transparency and insight into what’s going on.
Vast numbers of supporters and even casual fans now understand that, while the coach and the staff are ultimately the ones who run the day to day dynamics in the dressing room, the buck stops with the senior leadership in the organization. A lot of fingers were pointed today and a lot of blame was allocated and the most disappointing thing about today was that none of the leadership stood up and took responsibility for the mess. I didn’t hear you say “It’s my fault, this rests with me.” I didn’t see leadership. I saw ducking and covering and running away. I saw you blame others and then promise yet again that we aren’t that far away.
Frankly, that was a ridiculous thing to say. No club within sniffing distance of success in this league will have the drama that we witnessed today. Our on field talent isn’t the problem. You might have a Cadillac but you can’t power it with cooking oil.
You admitted the culture was broken, and it is. It’s in tatters. It’s been obvious to anyone with more than a passing interest in the organization that this has been the case since 2016 and probably earlier. Yet, you stood on the smouldering ashes of a disastrous press conference and refused to take your part in it. That is massively disappointing. The leadership of the organization, and by that I mean you, Rachel Lewis, and Greg Anderson, are the ones that should be paying the cost now. It’s time for all of you to go.
I don’t know what your plans are for a new regime, new coaching staff, and new structure. But in the wake of a beautiful celebration of Alphonso Davies, we see now the Achilles heel of the organization, and it goes beyond the dressing room. The motto of “Our All Our Honour” lies cynically shredded on the ground. What are we to believe in as supporters? Who IS this team now beyond a neglected plaything for the owners and a fidget spinner for the front office quant jockeys?
Supporter relations have been a chore forever and have consumed countless tens of thousands of unpaid labour from the supporters groups who work without any compensation – indeed who PAY for their tickets – to manufacture the atmosphere that you have sold for years. We put in way more work than we should, trying to undo the years of damage from ridiculous ticket policies and poorly handled relations from the front office. When we’re not in the stadium we find ourselves having to apologize for supporting a club that is being run on a formula that guarantees failure. The vast majority of my friends who are not in a supporters’ group have dropped their tickets for next year.
I have no more faith in you and your team to deliver the changes we need in the club. I think the best thing you can do now is use the excuse of the onset of the 40th anniversary Soccer Bowl season to announce your retirement and put the focus on the next forty years. Yes we have history to celebrate, but the stain of the last eight years looms too large in our minds. Without a massive change to this club, we will celebrate that anniversary wistfully, with little hope of ever getting to see another Championship here. I think your leadership team needs to step back and let a new team of soccer professionals take this club to the next level. We are being left behind by every other club in our league, in every measure.
— AFTN (@aftncanada) October 29, 2018
The banner that was hung on Sunday was there to point out the long simmering discontent that many are feeling. That it was so quickly removed before kickoff was a testament to the sensitivity of a front office who was nevertheless fine to leave up a “Fine Lines” banner week after week. Throwing other people under the bus has kept you in your positions, but the veil has fallen away.
Now is the time to for you to leave. As supporters there is nothing you can point to now and say “get behind this.” There is nothing from today to make us proud or optimistic about next year. You’ve lost the trust and goodwill of supporters to give you another chance.
Please. Stand up and take responsibility and then step down.
Do it for all of us. Do it for our honour.
*** This is my personal opinion and is not meant to be taken as the official view of AFTN or the Pigeon Casuals ***