One of the foibles of this job is – partly at least – having the contradict yourself. Being in the position, it instead tends to be seen as adapting a viewpoint as circumstances change and dictate. Now read on… Some months ago, I did a column outlining how the broadening of horizons – in the context of a sports club – can sometimes lead to a loss of identity. Ambition is to be admired, indeed it is crucial, but, a sense of perspective and priority is essential.
Recently, regarding matters in soccer across the water, examples of the good and the bad when it comes to ambition and priority raised themselves. Put it this way – a bull would look out of place in a milking parlour! Or, in sporting parlance, a golf ball wouldn’t look right on a snooker table. Nor a sliotar in a hockey rink.
So, the mere notion of Coventry City Football Club being based anywhere other than in, well, Coventry is unfathomable. Yet, seemingly that’s what’s afoot. You’ll be told by those behind such a daft idea that it’s in the best interests of something or somebody. Most likely their pockets. Certainly not, mind you, the supporters or history of the club involved.
At some point during either the last season or the immediate days after it, yours truly couldn’t understand the furore when Bolton supporters were up in arms over the club’s newly appointed sponsors. Simply because, with the way the world is today, surely financial assistance from any quarter is welcome!
Coventry fans being disgruntled is, on the other hand, right and totally understandable. Those in charge there need to realise the importance of their fan base. Yes, professional football is a business, but, regardless of what sector you’re in, if you’re business isn’t supported it’ll fail. Similarly, the GAA would do well to remember their players constitute their most prized assets and not other entities, but that’s a tale for another day!
What’s going on with Coventry would appear to fly in the face of what looks a great initiative recently announced across the water whereby clubs are actively encouraged to introduce other sports under the one club banner. Say, where somebody in a GAA club mightn’t want to play Gaelic football, they can take up hurling (or camogie) or handball or rounders or participate in Scor.
A similar model already operates in Europe, with some of the biggest soccer clubs on the continent taking part in Euro League basketball. Indeed, the only surprise is that such things haven’t caught on in the likes of England quicker. Where finance is needed to survive – which is basically everywhere – it’s about appealing to the widest audience possible.
The GAA might like to keep up the facade of amateurism but, in truth, the only ones that facet of things seems to apply to, shamefully, are the players. That aspect of things was only emphasised by the brouhaha which erupted over the fixing the Carlow/Laois qualifier for a Friday night.
In the long run, Friday night games will be a winner for the GAA. A needed one. Amateur status or not, large parts of the organisation centrally revolve around money and it wouldn’t be what it is if that wasn’t the case. In that case, though, priority regarding where the gains from prosperity gained needs to be realigned.
And that’s where the link – tenuous though it may be – between the GAA and the newly flagged up initiative elsewhere manifests itself. In fact, this applies to any sport – to survive and prosper a club continually needs to unearth new players and, maybe even more so, with soccer at any rate, supporters.
That’s why the mooted movement in or of Coventry seems to go totally against the grain. And, as against same, why this new initiative in England sounds so exciting. Now, this might be pushing the boat out a bit, but, Manchester United v. Barcelona in basketball? I’ll have some of that!