These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Monday, April 06, 2015

FANS UNITED

Printed in the Southern Premier Division game v St Neots Town Saturday 4th April 2015. We drew 3-3 in front of 354

How do you turn a protest into something positive? Sometimes there's no other option but to take the direct action response to show the authorities you mean business. But sometimes your protests can be pitched so that they help galvanise wider support. It was Brighton fans who showed the way when some bright spark from Plymouth came up with the idea of Fans United. Supporters from all over the country descended on the Seagulls threatened ground to show their support and catapult the campaign into the national headlines.

A fortnight ago, AFC Blackpool fighting off relegation from the North West Counties Premier Division and averaging crowds of just 35 decided to delay their kick off after fed up Blackpool fans said once they had protested at Bloomfield Road they would make their way to the Mechanics ground. The irony wasn't lost on the Championship supporters, that despite playing eight levels below them, AFC Blackpool had more grass on their pitch than them. But then since their relegation from the Premiership, the Blackpool chairman has lawfully been allowed to syphon off tens of millions on unsecured interest free loans to the various companies he owns. The kitman walked out in midweek, and the legalised loan sharks who sponsor the shirts will not renew. Blackpool have arguably the worst pitch in the Football League; their training ground would shame a semi-professional club and they are destined for relegation. The chairman argues his family deserves recognition and reward for underpinning the club for two decades and seems to think this gives him the green light to asset strip it to within an inch of its life. The Premiership, who have provided his family handsomely with their parachute payments shrug their shoulders, while the Football League say they have done nothing wrong. Which probably isn't surprising since the chairman of the Football League happens to be the chairman of Blackpool Football Club! In an email they argued “aside from adhering to our regulations (including financial requirements) and the laws of the land, clubs are their own individual business and can chose to operate as they wish”. Which is as good a quote as any, as why clubs should be owned by its supporters.

As for AFC Blackpool, they benefited by a bumper crowd of 503 who cheered them on to a 2-1 victory against Bootle. It also gave some fans, a glimpse of a very different footballing experience. One tweeted 'AFC Blackpool was bloody brilliant. Terraces, terrace banter, beer and great friends all together again. How it should be.'

Hereford United fans spent the season grappling with horrendous debts and dodgy owners who wanted to asset strip their ground. With crowds plummeting due to boycotting fans and owners that kept dishing out excuses, the courts finally had enough and the club that had famously knocked Newcastle out of the FA Cup were no more. But fans quickly set up a phoenix supporters run club that will be playing back at Edgar Street next season. Their aims include that no other individual or corporate body will be able to own any more than 24% of the shares in the company and that any profits must be reinvested in the club and will not return to any of the benefactors/sponsors, or be shared between shareholders.

Last Saturday Slough had the pleasure (well apart from the result) to visit our old friends Hitchin Town who ran a campaign blinder to stop a charity selling off their ground to a supermarket giant. Early in the season 2,000 people marched through the town to show their support, with the majority of them staying to watch the Canaries beat league leaders Poole.

And of course, Slough Town have cleared the last major hurdle to getting a new ground with building work potentially starting this summer. It's been a funny old season and a bloody long time since we weren't either fighting for promotion or battling against relegation, so as well as giving our nerves a welcome break, the ground news is just what our supporters needed to give something to toast at the end of the season.

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