I do not know if the stories circulating about Rovers fans going to Sainsbury’s, loading their trolleys and leaving them at the check outs having then (not really) changed their minds are true, but I am not sure it is a particularly good idea. There is no argument from anyone that Sainsbury’s have behaved disgracefully and despicably in their dealings with Bristol Rovers over the sale of the Memorial Stadium, but small-scale revenge action will not pay for the club to build a new ground.
Sainsbury’s will ride out the current unrest with ease. Like all the main supermarkets, they can usually bully their way to the results they want and that’s what will happen following the Rovers court case. Boycott Sainsbury’s, if you like, but it will be imperceptible to the stores themselves. No one is organising a formal boycott because no one cares enough to do it. Anyway, use Asda instead like I do: they’re much cheaper and better than Sainsbury’s.
Leaving trolley loads of products would achieve this much: it would be a pain in the arse for staff already earning little more than the minimum wage and the perishables loaded onto the trolley would be unnecessarily destroyed.
If people are angry, then I have a far better idea: organise. Don’t just talk about it on minor internet forums but form active groups to publicise Sainsbury’s disgraceful antics. Organise peacefully, encourage activities that don’t intimidate customers but at the same time embarrass the supermarket. There are ways and means. The orange protest was half-hearted, no one assumed leadership or became the spokesperson and make no mistake you need someone the media can talk to and get a quote from. Do it in an original, peaceful and amusing way. Look to be the good guys. Turning up at a supermarket, irritating ordinary staff members and pissing off customers who might not have the first idea what was going on is not smart and risks turning Rovers into the bad guys and that would certainly not be fair.
I am not saying Gasheads should not be angry, I am just saying they need to be more smart with their anger and frustration. Above all, they need people, ordinary fans, to show some leadership. Not anonymous internet forum names, but real people with real faces. It would be nice if, for example, the official supporters club could show some genuine leadership. In days gone by, they were truly independent, but sadly these days the organisation is indistinguishable from the football club and its elected directors are far more interested in sitting at the top table and in the luxury of the chairman’s matchday executive box. My message for Brian Seymour Smith and Ken Masters (pictured above) is simple: it has cost the supporters over £1 million to put them on the board, so how about showing some leadership for once? Don’t hide: come up with a clever strategy to make Sainsbury’s look like the shysters they are. They never stop telling us how hard they work for the fans and Seymour Smith is meant to be a media genius. Now go and prove it.
If the formal club support group cannot step up, it is up to others. Acting individually, ordinary fans at a football club have no chance. Acting collectively, well that’s a different thing. Staring at a computer screen, having a good laugh about some halfwit filling up a trolley of goods and leaving it at the check out will not do anything to bring Rovers a new stadium.