It’s guest blog time again and today it’s the return of Justin Davis, who gives us his personal view on the thorny issue of the Club’s media comms over the last few days…
Norwich City is, in my view, one of the best-run football clubs in the UK and Europe.
From the training ground and facilities. From the youth players, coaches, staff and owners.
Moreover, the club’s local outreach, charity and community work, and support against discrimination in the last few years have been admirable. Also, the club’s self-funded model is one that should be admired in a game that has unfortunately been overrun by money, debt and greed.
Okay, okay! Calm down.
They got the Premier League recruitment terribly, terribly wrong in the last few seasons but that doesn’t mean they won’t get it right going forward.
Alright, fair enough!
“Billionaire owners”, I can hear you scream. Sure, a little investment from a person that fits Delia’s and Michael’s standards and the club’s philosophy and structure wouldn’t go amiss.
But, if you were to read some of the comments on social media over the last few days you’d be under the strong impression that the club is badly run, with no moral valves and the sporting director is Dr. Evil laughing maniacally at the misery of Norwich City supporters.
Some of the online social media reactions to Stuart Webber, or certain players, and more recently the video art piece that the club did to celebrate Pride month, have been a tad over the top, even if there has been some genuine concern over the art piece.
There has been a lot of virtue signalling.
Art is subjective. It can be thought-provoking and symbolic. My own subjective view is that the art piece was aimed at those who use certain words without knowing they may cause much harm and offence. And judging by the online reaction…
Those words can be incredibly hurtful and on this particular issue, I firmly believe the club’s heart was in the right place.
I’m an actor by trade working under the stage name Brandon Francis (for those interested) and, as a result, I get my fair bit of criticism and online abuse. And having experienced bullying, I understand how and why words can be incredibly painful.
We should talk about why these words are offensive – now, that is something worth talking about.
However, there has been a recent trend online, which is to silence anything or anybody that might be considered hurtful or offensive. Yet, it’s difficult to keep up with these impossibly high moral standards.
Because we’re human. We make mistakes. But, that’s how we learn – by our failures and mistakes.
Furthermore, we all have different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs. We’re not all going to think the same way, and that’s a good thing. For instance, I’m an ex-pat supporter living in Japan and, believe me, the culture and beliefs in Asia on certain issues are very different from what they are in the UK.
Even the Greeks, founders of modern democracy, understood the importance of listening and debate. The Greek theatres were built for the very purpose of listening. However, this doesn’t mean you have to respect or agree with all ideas.
But, if you don’t debate or talk, how can you possibly know the strength of your own arguments? If you try to silence everything that hurts your feelings, you get stuck in an echo chamber, hearing your own voice repeated back to you, hence, narrowing communication and progress.
We, as a modern society, have lost the art of talking and listening to each other.
Sports can play an important role in addressing and raising awareness of key societal issues. Moreover, it brings supporters together regardless of background, belief, culture, or sexuality.
And that in itself is a beautiful and wonderful thing.
Our club isn’t perfect, there is room for improvement, but, we should be incredibly proud of Norwich City – a club that is leading the way on many fronts.
Let’s hope for a good season ahead!
Well said. I believe the club was well intentioned and strives to be inclusive. As I understand it, they did try to engage with groups of people who may have experienced such abuse. They appear to have gone about it in an open way. The whole point of it was to smother the nastiness with a rainbow of colour. If you don’t see and fully acknowledge that the nastiness exists you can’t really challenge it. There is no way that you could interpret this as promoting anything other than inclusivity in my opinion. What about moaning at clubs who have done precisely nothing about it?
John Rugsabell says
Poor comms is the key here though as they can and have turned a number of well intentioned ideas into PR shambles.
martin penney says
I agree with Sue ncfc [above].
There was a NewsNow link to “PinkNews” available at the time so I thought I’d check out what they and their readers had to say about this and the headline included the word “wholesome” to describe our initiative.
Some readers had a good giggle about the choice of words used while others thought that they should never have been displayed in the first place with an undercurrent 0f *some straights mean well but often miss the detail.”
Independently a graphic designer mate of mine said that it would have worked if the whiteboard had simply said NO TO INCLUSIVITY with the “NO TO” sprayed out in rainbow colours!
Let’s not forget that NCFC gave up Carrow Road for a day a couple of summers ago to Pround Canaries for an LGBT+ tournament and has done more to help this cause than most.
I’m in the Upper Barclay with a group of rufty-tufty supporters and I can assure you I have not heard a homophobic remark, at least in D Block, this century.
Some of these recent PR gaffes could have been avoided though, fo sure.
Inclusivity and diversity are strange bed fellows to many.
I am 71 grew up in the 60’s and since leaving Norfolk in 1969 I have travel and worked in many places, mostly accepted by the majority or people, accepted their culture and adapted to their ways of living.
Most people think the UK is lined with streets of gold and that all they need to is turn up and their lives will be changed forever not understanding that you have to work to better your life.
In every society you will have those that will not except change for change sake and forcing that change on them just causes animosity and resentment, destroying statues and decrying history for how bad it was, but those doing such damage aren’t learning from history and those demanding inclusivity should learn to work for it no expect it to be hand on a plate to them.
Diversity is the same we live in a multi cultural society with many differences demanding change to happen now will puts traditionalists backs up so again let’s work on it.
Norwich FC have tried with some success to lead the way for change but in many groups as in life you have diverse fractions that can’t agree on how to respond but no matter how much good you do for one group it’s going to up set another group.
Talking and good communication between all groups must continue and not be railroaded by narrow minded minority groups that only think they know best.
No one has all the answers just like our majority share holders everyone needs to be open minded on all subjects be it investment, religion, sensuality and colour we are all the same but all different.
A good read
Tim Ball says
Good piece Justin.
Firstly you are quite correct that it is a pity that more clubs are not run like Norwich City FC.
However we have to live in the real world and that is why I like many more of the canary family have called for more investment.
I like this Myfootballwriter blog because it is so fair. There is no name calling ( well done on that Gary) and all Norwich fans views are listened to and respected. I have always framed my replies with respect even though at times their intransigence has made me somewhat angry.
Especially after yet another thrashing defeat. To lose your last 3 home games by an average of 4-0 is not competing. But Delia and Michael are not Mr Chase and I am convinced they do really care about the club.
Delia and Michael have done so much for this club, that is fact, but the truth is time waits for no man or woman.
The “reward” for two unbelievable Championship titles has been disappointing to say the very least and it is heartbreaking to have to endure those two awful EPL seasons.
And just maybe Delia and Michael have now both come to the same conclusion as many of us, that the present model cannot work in the EPL. Fingers crossed.
Finally inclusivity. I was dismayed to hear a few years ago that some women were getting abuse at Carrow Road. The best thing that has happened to football is the increase in women and more children coming to matches. And long may it continue.
I did hear racist language at Carrow Road ( in the disabled stand for goodness sake !) more than 10 years ago now, I did call it out but I couldn’t identify the culprit. Had I done so I would have reported him to the stewards.
But lets be honest football grounds are a million times better than what they were.
But Carrow Road has to be a welcoming place for everyone.
A football clubs first aspiration should be to provide entertainment and success on the field.
This season the performances at Carrow Road went from bad to worse, then much worse and finding couldn’t be bothered.
Judging from this seasons performance I’d have to disagree that the club is well run and something to be proud of.
We are primarily a football club not a social services replacement organisation.
Thanks for this. The furore over this made me view the whole video and I found it a pretty good discussion which clearly meant well. Was impressed by Kenny McClean’s articulate and thoughtful contribution. The reaction from some people seemed over the top IMO.
As ever, the bar is so low. “They did something for Pride, so be grateful, regardless of how badly they screwed it up”.
And nobody is saying that they were evil – just that they screwed it up.
It’s not virtue signalling to be hurt by hurtful words, or to flag up that words could hurt others, unless such things are being done disingenuously. Are you accusing the community of LGBT people of lying about their hurt?
I think everybody who saw the video got the point of it. It doesn’t mean that that point couldn’t have been made in a better, kinder way. Nobody needed to actually see the slurs to acknowledge that they were on the wall. The slurs didn’t have to be a part of the social media output.
There are topics that deserve to be debated. There are people who have valid opinions on those topics. None of that means that every topic is debatable, or that all opinions are relevant. The opinion of straight people on what is and isn’t hurtful to LGBT people is as relevant as my opinion on how NASA can best propel their next rocket into space.
Your suggestion that people are no longer willing to listen, should probably be amended to one that people are not listening to you.
The reality is, none of the recent faux pas would be an issue if the football side was in order.
Gary Field says
Context and framing is crucial. Absolutely no doubt that it well meaning, but the execution could, and should, have been so much better.
An afternoon of football should be exciting and competitive and of late that hasn‘t been the case for Canary supporters. So naturally fans get upset especially when we‘ve been down this road so many times. Some have gone over the top with their criticisms but that‘s par for the course. Change is most definitely needed, there’s a limit before people start walking away and many are getting close to that. Perhaps things will improvements the alternative is a downward spiral.