I’ll always remember the day I decided I would no longer renew my season ticket at Wolves – it was January 21 2012.
We were playing Villa and Robbie Keane (my favourite player to wear our shirt) stuck two goal pasts us in a 3-2 defeat in a season of desperation.
During the game Karl Henry got sent off with the former captain receiving a barrage of abuse from the South Bank, it resulted in myself and my dad getting into words with fellow Wanderers fans and while by no means did it ever get too heated, it summed up a miserable Saturday afternoon.
I turned to my dad and said ‘no more, football is supposed to be there to be enjoyed and these players and this club are wrecking my weekends’.
We made a promise that January afternoon we wouldn’t renew but instead spend our hard earned money exploring football abroad and later that year splashed out on a trip to Barcelona to see the great FC Barcelona side.
It has been four years since I made that decision and I have absolutely no regrets.
I should be sat at home on a Saturday (or Thursday nights thanks to Sky) gutted that I’m missing out on the match, I don’t and that in itself is disheartening.
In fact, in that time I have seen little from the club to entice back those fans who woke-up and smelled the coffee and refused to part ways with hundreds of pounds.
We’ve seen a lack of exciting signings, a board reluctant to engage with supporters and our best players sold or allowed to leave.
To be honest, since I called time on my season ticket, visiting other clubs such as Barca, Borussia Dortmund and Lille only highlighted what Wolves have got wrong and still continue to get wrong in terms of fan relations.
There were efforts in League One but they were apologetic and only came in the aftermath of a pitch invasion at the end of 2012/13 season – the year we relegated from The Championship.
I don’t blame the club for trying to build bridges I just never believed their sudden feeling of contrition. During the Premier League days I felt like a customer while during the League One season I felt a part of the club.
And yet despite being a member of the Fans’ Parliament my feelings are slowly returning to the former, I feel a customer again.
I get emails from the club telling me my support is ‘appreciated’, ‘I’m the 12th man’, the club would be ‘nothing without me’ and then it’s ‘oh and by the way here are the prices of our season ticket’. It carries the sincerity and charm of the chuggers on Wolverhampton’s Dudley Street and more and more people are only too happy bodyswerve away from it.
The connection with the club in 2013/14 was short lived. The champagne corks hadn’t hit the floor and sentiments from board level were soon retracted.
A perfect example of this was the ‘This is our love and it knows no division’ banner which became the unofficial club motto in League One. This brilliantly created art work by The Toasters was made by fans for fans and had pride of place in the North Bank.
It represented defiance and loyalty and in a way was two fingers up to players and officials who had taken fans for granted.
As soon as fans got on board and began tweeting, sharing and even tattooing these words, it was hi-jacked by the club, plastered on merchandise and then made smaller on the North Bank to allow room for sponsorship, if ever a move summed up the club.
But there have been more examples of supporters being treated with contempt. Last year springs to mind where officials forgot to invite our fans to a pre-season tour of France – an afterthought. Our own fans an afterthought.
And of course there’s the small matter of the lack of signings and investment. This wouldn’t be half as bad had we not sold our player of the season Richard Stearman for ‘footballing reasons’ and then gone back on our word over the sale of Benik Afobe, oh and actually replaced Bakary Sako.
Perhaps what sums up the attitude of the club towards fans is the following.
Despite being one of the most televised clubs in the country and seeing Sky TV change fixture after fixture (and no doubt another one by the time you’ve read this sentence) not a single statement, comment or word has come from Wolves towards the fans affected by the changes.
Not a single syllable to the fans who have to travel long distances via plane, trains or automobiles and have to book hotels in advance often with no chance of a refund.
Not a word to those who spend as much as travelling to a couple of games of season as the cost of a season ticket. Instead silence.
And to those who say to me ‘well what can Wolves do about it?’ read on.
Leeds United supporters will hold a protest in support of their fans affected by kick-off changes caused by Sky and follows Massimo Cellino’s threat to ban the broadcaster after he blamed a fall in ticket sales on the frequency of Leeds’ televised games.
Further south in Yorkshire, Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins expressed his fury and stated he stands shoulder-to-shoulder with supporters after Sky changed their kick-off which again left many football supporters out of pocket. Blades fans are also planning a protest.
Even Arsenal (yes Arsenal the epitome of a money hungry club) are offering refunds for fans who can’t make the rearranged fixture with Leicester which is now being broadcast on Sky.
These are just three examples of club officials standing up for their fans, their people. They are simple yet effortless gestures but present a united front.
And while Wolves’ whole silence over Sky’s assault on our fixture list is just one example it perfectly sums up why I’m not a season ticket holder and why I don’t envy the men, women and children who are.
BY ADAM THOMPSON