By Mark Rasdall
I'm sure you'll all remember the famous FT ad campaign "No FT, no comment." The implication is that you couldn't do without the FT and I feel much the same about Leeds United as I have done for the last forty five years: I cannot do without the club.
However, it's hard to comment much beyond that because, unlike the FT, the club seems to be in the hands of people who would rather not
communicate, enter into debates or share informaton.
I work in web communications and certainly just because there has been a proliferation of online channels it doesn't mean they have to be used and, if so, they should be used properly. There is certainly a case for Leeds United, as with all football clubs, and GFH, as with all business owners, to be careful what they say and when. Rumours abound with football all the time and truth and lies exist side-by-side with the jokes on Twitter and Facebook. The transfer window can - and is - easily blamed for the need for secrecy amid negotiations behind closed doors.
However, the common football factor isn't the club or the owners, it is the fans. We have been here all along, through management and managers, owners and players. If the spokes people from Leeds United choose not to communicate with us at all then they are not acting as true custodians of our football brand. We are the LUFC customers and we are still kings of that relationship, yet treated as 'ordinary fans' because most of us can't afford executive boxes or the many commercial spin-offs that litter the official website. We just spend vast amounts of time and money on supporting the team, often in rubbish conditions.
We always queried the soundbites coming out of the Bates camp and were relieved to see Messrs Haigh and Patel on Twitter just as soon as the takeover was settled. They saw the opportunity to inform, share and have conversations with their customers and did the right thing. But then they decided to so exactly the wrong thing - they stopped informing, sharing and conversing with their customers. Into this vacuum have come rumours and speculation - most of which could probably have been prevented. The legacy of this is as much if not more distrust than before. Most of us always suspected that Bates was a crook and now GFH are being tarred with the same brush - and they have nobody to blame (not even Ken) but themselves.
Individuals are the new media, each and everyone of us can generate and share our views and word-of-mouth is more powerful than any channel since people began to leave their feudal villages of birth. It is not rocket science, not venture capital, it is easy: use the media at your disposal and tell us, truthfully, what is going on.
Nobody expects intimate details of transfer negotiations or longer term investment plans. We just need regular updates and answers to questions such as:
Why Dindane and not Becchio - tell us the truth
Why Warnock and not White - tell us the truth
Why the other Warnock and not Adkins - tell us the truth
Why Brown and not a creative midfielder who can run - tell us the truth
Why high ticket prices and low crowds - tell us the truth
Why long ball and not football - tell us the truth
Why Varney and not a footballer - tell us the truth
We could all answer these questions of course, but remember, we're just the ordinary customers; if you were a GFH and seeking to look after your brand you'd be reinforcing the message that all at Leeds United is in safe hands and going well. It might well be but how would we know?