As I have said before, I am not getting into any aspect of what people call the “politics” at Bristol Rovers. Not. Ever. Again. If something goes wrong, some kind of injustice occurs, I’ll put on my best Loyd Grossman voice and say “It’s over to you.” But I will say something: (and please sit down when I say this) well done to Bristol Rovers Supporters Club (BRSC). They’ve actually said something relatively controversial albeit something that needed to be said. They’ve had a pop about the “The Checkatrade Trophy” formerly known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Good for them.
They’ve had a pop because the Football League have decided, in their infinite lack of wisdom, to include Premier League and Championship clubs, albeit not their full teams. Mainly their younger players. Most of the big clubs in the Premier League took one look at the new competition and thought, “Bugger that for a game of soldiers”. So now we have a tournament that was formerly for the bottom two divisions in the League which now includes some teams from the higher divisions. A tournament that once stood for something now means absolutely nothing.
Bristol Rovers will now “entertain” Yeovil Town, Portsmouth and a “Reading XI” in the group stages. None of these games look especially appealing, but a “Reading XI”? Who on earth would want to bother to see that one? Who the hell would pay to go?
The Supporters Club must have its ear firmly to the ground when it asserts on its website that “there is talk of walk-outs and boycotts at some matches”. Given how few people bother to attend the early rounds, there might be no one left on the terraces. And would people really just walk out, making the effort to attend in the first place? They must know something.
BRSC’s committee members feel very strongly about it too and add that “some EC members and some volunteers will not attend this match”, although “normal matchday operations” (selling 50/50 tickets and programmes, as well as presenting the man of the match award) will not be affected. Phew! What a relief, although the 50/50 prize money might not pay for your bus fare home if the boycotts go ahead!
I jest a little but in truth I rather respect BRSC’s stance on this one. I have been highly critical of the organisation in previous times but not over this. They have not encouraged a boycott, they have just expressed an opinion which I believe reflects a large number of supporters, maybe all of them. Good for them.
The club itself opposed the changes at the Football League annual meeting, so they did their part and they can just get on with it and make the best of a very bad lot. But even if we get to the final, what does that actually mean? It’s not the 3rd and 4th division anymore, just a half-cocked hybrid that, in my humble opinion, is an insult to every supporter in the land.