“What the world needs now,” wrote Burt Bacharach and Hal David, “Is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing there’s just too little of.” They certainly had a point. But what Bristol Rovers Football Club doesn’t need now is a hare-brained spat between a loss making and heavily indebted football club and the crumbling remnants of the Supporters Club. It’s like two bald men arguing over a comb, in the case of Ken Masters only to rearrange the hair from the back of his head to the front.
Masters’ resignation letter from his position as a fan representative on the board of directors was long on self-praise and self-pity and short on facts, as you might expect from a man with nothing to show by way of achievements for supporters in 14 years in the job. He was the reason why the Community Department was so successful and not, as we apparently wrongly believed, Adam Tutton. Given the pantomime nature of the state of the club, all we can say to that is, “Oh no he wasn’t.”
If Masters’ resignation letter was bad enough, Supporters Club chair Jim Chappell’s response was nonsensical. Evidence-free praise for Masters’ hard work, references to the “money from his own pocket” that Masters has donated to the Community department (so what? That’s his choice and nothing to do with the role of the fans director), the £1.3 million that BRFC supporters paid into the Share Scheme that Chappell had literally no input in setting up back in 2003, complaining that no share certificates had been issued to the Supporters Club since the al-Qadis bought the club four years ago and the astonishingly inaccurate assertion that if the club went bust “directors would be liable for the losses with Ken or any other ordinary supporter likely to lose all of his or her’s assets – house, car, possesions (sic), whatever!” Where to begin?
Jim Chappell is a decent, honourable man. No one can doubt his genuine commitment to the football club. Sadly, if Masters’ ill-tempered, self-serving resignation letter wasn’t bad enough, Chappell’s just makes things worse. Rather than whingeing and making ever more damaging comments, why doesn’t he come clean, as Masters should? If Chappell has the “excellent working relationship” with Masters he claims – and Chappell is a decent, honourable man – then he, too, should tell us what he knows. What is the true situation at BRFC and why has the Supporters Club said nothing until now? And why, given the absence of share certificates for four years, has it continued to hand over large sums of fans’ money to the football club?
But let us not overstate the importance or relevance of the Supporters Club. What does it actually do? Its members sell programmes, its members sell 50/50 tickets, its members arrange travel for away matches, its members gain preferential treatment for ticket allocations to ‘big’ games, something season ticket holders enjoy anyway. That is literally it. Do Gasheads actually need it anymore?
I now hear that Masters has done an interview with Radio Bristol’s Geoff Twentyman for broadcasting on Radio Bristol tomorrow, presumably to pour oil onto the flames. It is my fervent hope that Twentyman has tied him down – literally, if necessary – in order to get Masters to tell Gasheads exactly what is going on at BRFC. Some of the Bristol Post allegations about the activities of ‘associates’ of Masters are astonishing. His undistinguished career on the board of directors is over. If he cares about the club as much as he says he does, then he will tell the truth. But then, what?
At some point, Wael al-Qadi will have to respond. BRFC is now, to all intents and purposes, his club, at least in terms of ownership. That is why Masters must say clearly what he knows.
Sadly, for the main protagonists in this situation, they cannot hide behind the next game to distract Gasheads, because there isn’t going to be one for a very long time. People are saying that the entire future of the club is at stake, “we could be the next Bury”. Are they right or are they wrong?
I leave you with the words of John Lennnon.
I’m sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted
All I want is the truth
Just give me some truth