One of my Nan’s sayings has been ringing in my ears recently, the one she’d use about someone who had bought something they had no real idea how to work.
Something that she considered ‘above them’ for instance: one of my great Uncles one Christmas gave my cousin a huge scientific calculator – my cousin who was eight at the time – and had no idea what most of the symbols on it meant.
He promptly turned it upside down and much to my Uncle’s embarrassment proudly showed everyone the fruits of his labours that he’d spelt out ‘boobs.’
My Nan fixed them both with a long suffering stare and with a sigh said, “You daft bugger, you’ve got more money than sense!”
That adage is applicable to the new breed of football club owner – and holding court at the head of the crop would have to be Cardiff City’s Vincent Tan.
A Malaysian businessman who made his millions in everything from five star hotels to fast food franchises, from car dealerships to gambling machines.
Tan, whose behaviour in charge is often unfathomable, cuts a bizarre figure in the stands. He is often seen wearing his lucky red overcoat – begging to be compared to the ringmaster of the circus formerly known as Cardiff City Football Club.
Tan is always surrounded by a confusion of colour worn by torn Bluebird supporters, the majority in traditional blue with others in neutral clothing not wishing to make a stance, while red remains a tiny minority.
The first major decision that rang alarm bells was the 2010/11 away strip of white (the home team colour of bitter local rivals Swansea City) which after an initial outcry, the club pointed out that historically Cardiff worn a white away kit once in the past.
This quietened the majority of the fans down, although all in hindsight will admit now this, was merely a test for the changes Vincent Tan had his heart set on.
On the last day of Cardiff city’s 2010/11 season the bombshell was dropped, after over 100 years of playing at home only in blue, Cardiff City were going to be playing their home games in red shirts and black shorts, because, to quote Mr Tan, who when questioned on his decision claimed: “Red lucky and blue is unlucky. Cardiff have never win anything in blue, always lose.”
The Bluebird on the club’s badge which had been present in name or embodiment since the team had had a regular crest on the kit, was to be replaced by a large red dragon.
Mr Tan again offered his interesting take on the matter noting: “Bluebirds are unlucky – the dragon is a Welsh and Chinese symbol, a fusion of our cultures going forward together – Bluebirds mean nothing”
The Malaysian owners, led by Vincent Tan, also announced a million pound package of investment, but at a cost.
The rebranding of the club: the nickname ‘The Bluebirds’ was to be outlawed, the home strip would become red, the badge would be a dragon and in line with these changes the team would now be known as the Red Dragons!
The vast majority of Cardiff supporters took to social network en masse and thanks to Twitter the news very quickly spread to the media.
Within a week after mass protests, the club announced that Cardiff City would play in blue and retain the current badge for the forthcoming season, but the owners were disappointed and may have to look elsewhere for other investors.
A poll on Wales Online then found that 60% of Cardiff City fans would rather ‘be red than dead.’ Most Bluebird supporters hadn’t voted in the poll thinking it was nonsense, and afterwards a huge number of fans of other clubs admitted they had voted in the poll to wind up the Cardiff City supporters.
However despite these facts just a week later the rebranding went ahead on the basis of that deeply flawed straw poll.
That season, Cardiff were promoted to the Premier League on a damp Tuesday night, with fans and players alike celebrated on the pitch singing, “The Blues are up, Bluebirds, Bluebirds.” Astro supersport, a TV station owned by Tan, who were screening the game live reported the fans were chanting: “The reds are up, red birds, red birds”
With chants ringing in his ears Vincent Tan, in the tunnel being interviewed live on Sky Sports News, grabbed the red Cardiff City shirt he was wearing over his shirt and tie and tucked into high-waisted trousers and said: “Lucky red, lucky red, all down to lucky red, lucky red.”
Tan has since repeatedly expressed his desire to rename Cardiff City football club ‘The Cardiff Dragons’ and at the Cardiff City end of season gala ball, took to the stage only to be chanted off it, after mentioning the name change once again.
He then announced the blue away kit would be replaced with a yellow one. The boos again were deafening and the chants of, “Blues, Bluebirds and screams of NO!! Tan out,” caused him to reconsider.
He then backed down, stating: “Okay, ok maybe we play in yellow ok, then we sometimes play in blue then okay. But you need to think we look silly playing in red you all chanting ‘Blue and Bluebird’.”
The room agreed with him, but what he failed to grasp was they agreed from a different perspective.
Last week saw yet more unfathomable behaviour.
Iain Moody, the head of recruitment and chief scout at Cardiff City, a man who has been at the side of manager Malky Mackay for seven years, and whom he has credited with most of the clubs signings, was placed on season long ‘gardening leave’ by Tan.
Moody’s replacement is 23-year-old Kazakhstani Alisher Apsalyamov . A friend of owner Vincent Tan’s son U-Jiun – who was previously employed by the club as a painter and decorator and has, by his own admission, no previous experience in football other than spending the summer helping to redecorate Cardiff City Stadium and playing Fifa.
There have been rows between the players and Tan over bonus’ that had not been paid, fans have been told if they are seen standing during matches at CCS (regardless of any disability that might make sitting for long periods difficult or lack of height making standing the only option for a supporter to be able to see) they will be ejected and banned for five games.
MacKay, reportedly on the request of his players, had to ban Vincent Tan from the dressing room after he had to be removed after storming in at half time during the recent game against Newcastle United to berate the players during MacKay’s team talk.
The result of this is strained to breaking point relations between Tan and MacKay. Thursday evening saw Malky Mackay locked in three-hour talks with key board members of Cardiff City Football Club attempting to clarify his future as Bluebirds manager. However those senior officials did not include Vincent Tan or chief executive Simon Lim.
Bluebird supporters have been in uproar many more joining ‘Bluebirds Unite’ in support of the manager, an organisation which is run by Sian Branson. The aim being to show via peaceful means that Cardiff City fans haven’t taken the rebranding lightly.
Both supporters and players credit Malky with Cardiff City’s promotion. MacKay is viewed in the same vein by Bluebird fans as Bill Shankly, Sir Alex Ferguson, Brian Clough are by the supporters of the clubs they managed. The Cardiff City fans are not about to lose the man they have come to love and who gets them.
A further meeting took place on Monday between Mackay and the Cardiff City board, again Vincent Tan was not present. The result being a statement issued by the club that explained very little, other than Malky MacKay remains in place- for now.
Certainly the case of Vincent Tan and Cardiff City isn’t an isolated one, just ask the Coventry City or Hull City supporters, they have their own horror stories of owners who ‘have more money than sense’ and who just don’t get what a football club actually is!
What are your thoughts on the mess? Let us know your thoughts below or tweet us @LaFootyettes.
10 years ago
The lunatics have taken over, be afraid, be very afraid BLUEBIRDS UNITE!!
10 years ago
Supporters should fight to retain their history as owners come and go but the club will remain.