At half-time during the recent Aston Villa – Cardiff City game a Villa fan nipped to the loo. On hearing a voice saying, “That’s her!” she found herself completely surrounded by five tall, heavily set Stewards.
The petite blonde mum, who is a life-long passionate Villa supporter, felt intimidated, and received no reply to her query as to what was a matter – her initial fear on being escorted from the Villa Park ground without explanation, was that something had happened to one of her loved ones.
Once they were outside, she was forced to hand over her season ticket, and informed she was banned from home games. The reason given for her expulsion was that there had been complaints from one of her fellow Villa fans that she had been swearing – which could have caused upset to a nearby child.
The alleged incident had happened in the Upper Holte, the area at Villa Park designated for old school fans. One could argue that anyone with a season ticket in that section of the ground should know to expect exuberance, passion, for things to be boisterous and a little leery even.
The supporter in question felt victimised, having not received any warning about her behaviour on any occasion. She is by her own admission loud and passionate about her team, as all real supporters are.
Added to this it was acknowledged that the swearing hadn’t been directed towards any individual, but was part of an old Villa supporters song, she was singing along to, caught up in the moment after a Villa near miss – it is the type of thing which is sung very Saturday and at every ground in the UK.
After an outcry over the weekend on twitter, which included the backing a lot of rival supporters, Villa officials agreed to a meeting to discuss the banning order and the return of the said season ticket.
The result was the season ticket was returned, but with a host of conditions, which include no singing, no chanting, no jumping up to celebrate a goal or near miss, and if she’s seen to raise her hands in the air for any reason she will be removed and so will her season ticket.
All this despite the fact the original charges were deemed to be unfounded.
Supporters at other clubs have discovered a baffling array of restrictions have been placed upon them this season.
Liverpool FC famously issued a list of banned words to their stewards – many of which were common sense and offensive, but others seemed faintly ridiculous, it’s extremely debatable if anyone has ever been offended by someone shouting at a player faking injury, “Man up…Get up!”
While a female Arsenal supporter found themselves warned by a steward and threatened with removal at an away game for shouting at one of their team’s defenders who was having a howler – “Get him off! My Gran could do better!” The warning being issued on the grounds of sexism and ageism!
We are increasingly been asked to simply sit down, applaud politely and “oh” at near misses, allowed only to jump up when a goal is scored.
Added to this, clubs are being ripped apart to suit the ever growing egos of overseas owners. Coventry City FC no longer play any home games having been relocated to Northampton, because of a spat over a sum of less than half a million pounds unpaid rent.
Instead of settling the bill, which the owners Sisu could easily afford, they allowed the club to go into administration, be docked ten points and forgo a complicated array of fiscal conditions, including; only being able to bring a new player into the club at the expense of another player, and even then the club can only pay the newly transferred-in player 75% of the transferred out player’s wages.
Hull City AFC have been renamed the Hull Tigers, while Cardiff City were ‘rebranded’ in an bafflingly illogical move by their owner Vincent Tan – abandoning the blue home colours the club has worn since its first game as Cardiff City over a hundred years ago, for a red shirt and black shorts combo.
The club motto and badge were also radically changed and the controversial owner continually objects to supporters referring to themselves and the club as Blue and The Bluebirds.
These owners fail to grasp the reason fans turn out to watch football. The game is a release of emotions over 90 minutes in which you can shout, scream, jump up and down, chant, sing, cheer, laugh, cry and hug people, often with people who in other circumstances you would barely acknowledge.
These owners and law makers need to be very careful because if the experience of going to a football match becomes so sanitised and alien to the supporters. We might all just stop going…
Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts below or tweet us @LaFootyettes.