MK Dons on Saturday was a great occasion for Coventry City and its fans. 7000 supporters turned up, drawing with them much needed media focus back onto our plight. We also won and witnessed a couple of stunning free-kicks. If you were there and didn’t get smacked on the head by a broken seat, I’m sure you will agree it was a truly memorable day in our recent history.

For me, there has been no doubt since our victory in Milton Keynes last season that I wanted to return. This desire has only heightened given how little football I’ve been able to attend so far this year. It’s a good stadium, simple to get to, and the opportunity arose once more to attend a football match with my Dad, which I haven’t done since we left the Ricoh.

The assertion from some angles however is that I shouldn’t have done it; we shouldn’t have done it.

Apparently visiting MK Dons is hypocritical. Apparently as a football fan in the situation we’re in, doing so completely negates our argument and stance towards our opposition to Sixfields and why we’re not supporting the team there.

I can’t tell you how much I refute this accusation. Here was my initial response when this was first posed:

MK Dons offers 7000 fans the opportunity to come together – by far the largest away day in the division. I can see why it’s been chosen to make that statement over a couple of thousand somewhere else.

We have enough decisions to make around the morality of watching our own club at the moment, is it really necessary to introduce the added complexity of others into the mix? Should we maintain a list of injustices that have occurred in football over the years? Do we boycott Cardiff? Hull? Or maybe our focus remains on our own “live” situation, and not one of something which has already reached a resolution. I don’t condone what happened to Wimbledon, but there’s only so much a fan can do to influence their own club, without the expectation that we should be moral wardens over every other club too. There are a lot of rotten things in football, but come on, let’s not use MK Dons as yet another high-horse point scoring exercise.

OK, so that’s a pretty high-level rebuttal, but the point remains. That point is about obligation and just how far we as football fans can actually be expected to preside over the difficulties faced by other clubs as well as our own.

What’s the expectation here?

As noble as it may sound, if we’re saying we have a responsibility to show complete solidarity to others, where exactly is the line? What else constitutes a situation worthy of our attention in the form of boycott, or should we each be maintaining a dispassionate list of all the wrong-doings that have befallen football clubs over the years then hold them every single one of them to account?

Clearly this is ludicrous. As wrong as it may be, rotten things are happening to football clubs all over the world, every single day. What I’m struggling to grasp is the guidance which asserts that some situations warrant our attention and action, while others don’t?

Relocating a club is certainly extreme, but so is changing a club’s name. Is that worthy of our action? Should teams be boycotting Hull for what they’re proposing?

What about the destruction of an entire heritage with radical crest and team colour changes? Should the fans be giving the Cardiff owners what-for after all the “crimes” they’ve committed since their arrival?

Everton were almost forced into a new badge which in reality was a bit slicker than the old one. Their fans were livid though. Does badge alteration warrant similar action from the football community?

It’s likely that I’ve already taken this too far already, but I hope you are starting to see my point.

While what has happened to MK Dons feels relevant to us, in the scheme of what has occurred over the 100-odd years of football and within the evolution of the culture within it, there are countless comparable situations – far more than any of us could even be aware of. Does that excuse them from the wrath of those who believe we should have avoided MK Dons?

The reason we don’t address all of these unfortunate events – be they current or historical – is because nobody would ever go to to any matches if we did.

So with all that in mind, maybe in the long run our focus can only realistically be on what is happening at our own club? It certainly feels that way to me. Who’s there to make the rules otherwise?

Don’t get me wrong, the Wimbledon situation was clearly a heinous wrong-doing to their fanbase, but I’m getting really weary of the arbitrary nature of what constitutes being a “good” football fan, and the right and wrong behaviours being thrust upon us, often with very little to base them on beyond a differing perspective and interpretation.

As I look at this current argument about MK Dons, one of the main criteria for raising it seems to be because it is a recent event, which immediately means it’s relevant, and by extension makes it convenient. I say convenient because in our case obviously there’s a similarity in circumstance, but also because it feels as though it provides easy ammunition for those wishing to take their place on the moral high-ground this week.

There’s no denying we’re in a deplorable situation. All any of us wants to do is watch Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena and enjoy it. But the myriad dilemmas we face are making things difficult enough for Coventry City fans as it is, both in terms of our individual conscience and the sheer logistics of supporting a team that’s been moved 35 miles away.

I look at this latest argument and it angers me, because it feels unnecessary to pile this on top of what is already a raft of impossible decision we’re being forced to make. Is this situation not difficult enough to navigate without throwing yet more confusion and guilt trips into the mix; more flimsy and ill-defined “rules” about what constitutes a good fan?

You’ll no doubt get a sense that by even writing this piece I’ve encountered many difficulties in figuring out how I actually feel about it. Assimilating my thoughts neatly has proved impossible because there are just so many arguments and counter-arguments about the perceived rights and wrongs in football, and in the case on MK Dons, there’s genuine difficulty stating outright where the line should be drawn in regards to moral obligation towards other clubs. Moreover, when so much is going on at our own club, who has really got the time to draw that line for us, and how the bloody hell are you supposed to know where to put it?

Everything about football is a contradiction – from one game to the next, from one decision to the next. With the troubles we’re facing bringing our club back to its home city, I don’t know why some revel so much in adding such muddled levels of complexity. We’ve got our own despicable issue to attend to thanks very much. Our own “moral” dilemmas.

At this moment in time that really should be enough for us all to be getting on with.

If we’re going to start attempting to fight outside battles in wars that have already ground to a conclusion, why stop at MK Dons? Will those who’ve criticised Saturday’s attendees hold the same viewpoint the next time we have a trip to the Emirates, given what those poor bastards had to put up with in 1913 when they were dragged from one end of London to the other?

I feel I may be allowing my annoyance to get the better of me here as I attempt to wrap this up, but let’s face it – the entire criticism has no clear boundaries, meaning it can all too easily descend into reductio ad absurdum – or “the disproof of a proposition by showing that it leads to absurd or untenable conclusions”. That’s a rubbish way to have a debate.

Right now, we still have an opportunity to influence an active situation at our own club where decisions are still to be made, minds can still be changed, circumstances reversed and plenty of battles yet to be won. Instead of seeking out confrontation, let’s keep it simple, keep it focused on Coventry City, and stop digging up new ways to pick holes in the logic of those who are already struggling with the minefield of unknowns we have laid out in front of us.

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16 comments

  1. I agree with much of what you’ve written here and I think that your final paragraph makes very good sense. If anything, the recent experiences with our club and the actions of its owner have resulted it me emphasising even more with other supporters who feel embittered about how they are being treated. I must confess that I didn’t feel totally comfortable giving money to MK Dons.

    With regard to Wimbledon, assuming that we will still be playing at Northampton, I have already decided that I will be making my first visit to Sixfields to cheer on Wimbledon on Tuesday 25 March. I think it would make a fine statement if there were more of us there for that match than those attending the following evening for City v Stevenage. Hopefully it would provide some good publicity and add to the pressure on the FL when it completes its end of season review of progress towards a return to the ‘Coventry area’ (wherever that may be).

    By the way, I notice that the recent Guardian article has been taken down from the SBT website. I wonder whether they’ve been told to do that by some SISU bully boy lawyers. Surely not!

  2. Didn’t realise I was gonna be reading ‘ War and Peace’, I think long drawn out blog could have been condensed into 4 or 5 paragraphs.

    In my opinion for the 7000 who made the decision to go to MK Dons, that is fair enough nothing moral about it at all, but just don’t criticise those who go to Six fields, they are just supporting their team as the 7000 did at MK.

    I personally didn’t go to MK and have not yet been to six fields, but I will not judge those who do.

  3. cannot really moan about owners taking the club 35 miles away and THEN try and take the moral high ground justifying going to MK Dons! Either you agree with franchise football or you don’t! it isn’t about fighting outside battles, it is about having a consistant moral argument. This blog is just self justification for going. There really is no moral ambiguity here. If you went to MK you support franchise fotball-simple!

    Either you agree with franchise football or you don’t. The fact the poster struggles to justify just show even he knew it was morally offensive to go.

  4. A moral dilemma? not really! You backed franchise football. What next a fans group spinelessly removing a link critical of the owners – oh wait! Is this poster part of the SBT? Seems to be plague of spinelessitis recently

    1. “spinelessly removing a link”?
      Although SISU it not very good at running a football club, it appears to be very effective at using lawyers. It’s not unreasonable to infer that the SBT may have been threatened with some form of legal action in order to encourage removal of the item. It’s also very obvious that SISU can afford to spend much more money than the SBT on lawyers and pursuing legal actions. If there was such a threat then I would suggest that the SBT is not so much being spineless but being very pragmatic. Of course, there may have been a completely different reason for the removal. As I’m just an ordinary member of the SBT, I wouldn’t know.

    1. I live in a world prejudice and people being pre judged. I just say that I am better than them so they can alll fcuk off.

  5. AFC Wimbledon fans don’t have any issue with going to MK Dons as seen at their cup tie. There is no active boycott or campaign of any sort in place against MK Dons by AFC Wimbledon and they have even gone so far as to send messages of support to our fans for taking such a large following and “showing them what real football fans are like”.
    I don’t see why we should be expected to protest something when noone else, not even the club involved are.

    1. I live next door to an afc Wimbledon fan and let me tell you that there’s real hatred and he would never go to that place in MK

      1. I can understand that strength of feeling although 3,000 of them went to MK for a cup tie. I guess there’s a similar range of opinions among AFCW fans as there is here.

  6. What a tangled web of morality it is to be a football supporter today. Who would have thought the simple business of following your team would necessitate such a tiptoe through such political and moral minefields?

    To be honest it had escaped my notice this was even an issue though on reflection I can see why. When many Sky Blues fans have urged a boycott of their own team’s games – and, early season at least, called on visitors to do likewise – visiting the scene of a previous, very similar crime does seem a little thoughtless at least. 

    But I see it like this.

    We are not responsible for how others choose to protest about their own situation. But if those at the sharp end are asking for us to take a certain action then that should be at the forefront of our own minds as we make our own decisions. In this context the fact that the supporters of AFC Wimbledon have not, to my knowledge at least, called for a boycott of the MK Dons is a hugely significant factor suggesting that a boycott is inappropriate. 

    In fact as far as I am aware no club other than ours is currently suggesting there should be a boycott of games. And that is enough to answer your questions relating to Cardiff, Hull or Everton. Of course we shouldn’t make that decision for them but if they did make the call I think we, as individuals, should consider it.

    It’s called solidarity. And it’s where I take issue with the general tone of your piece. There is no decision we make that does not have consequences. We are not simply supporters of this or that football club, we are supporters of football. If a wrong is committed against our fellow supporters we should respond and we should expect others to help us. There is more that unites us as football supporters than divides us as followers of a particular club. And more that we share with fellow supporters than with this or that owner of a club. 

  7. I can totally understand Wimbledon’s fans anger against MK Dons, I mean let’s face it, if we formed a new club and CCFC became the Sixfield Sky Blues or something awful like that then we’d wish nothing but that the owners of the club would be humped by Satan’s dog in purgatory for evermore, and rightly so. The difference for our fans right now is though that whilst MK Dons continues to exist, Wimbledon fans have their new club with 10 years of new history, and they are only 1 division lower than they were when it all went wrong anyway. They may still have a bitter taste in their mouths but at least they can watch their team play in their own back yard. As awful as it was, the Wimbledon/MK Dons saga is now history, it is (or should be) water under the bridge – life goes on for the fans, they have a team to support.

    We are now what they were, we’re the ones who need an outlet for the media to see how badly we’ve been treated. MK Dons is now effectively a new club, close to us, with a lot of seats for away fans which we took advantage of because we don’t want to put money in the pockets of our owners ripping the heart out of our club. Yes we’d probably have preferred another team rather than MK Dons, but beggars can’t be choosers.

    Ultimately, we’re getting to the point in the season where if nothing looks like it’s going any way to get CCFC back to the Ricoh, someone should do a deal to form a new club to play at the Ricoh. It would put the pressure on Sisu to do something (other than just waiting for ACL to go bust) and if they didn’t then we could finally abandon them to their fate whilst we got on with rebuilding from scratch like AFC Wimbledon did.

  8. the problem with your initial response was that it did not attach real gravitas to the situation that wimbledon found themselves dragged into, comparing their situation to what has happened to cardiff and what will probably happen to hull city was weak and seemed to demonstrate a lack of understanding.
    wimbledon were dragged from their home and relocated to a football ground over 80 miles away. the moment that happened wimbledon football club were no more. the owners were given a very cheap passport to league football with a new club.
    I am delighted city beat mk dons, the atmosphere I am sure was brilliant but my point is that although we are playing in northampton for the time being we are still an authentic football club and the manager and players deserve support home and away.
    our owners are undoubtedly partly to blame for our present predicament but they are also the owners that brought in the three players that made victory possible last week.
    we understand the present difficulties differently but this is without doubt the best ‘forum’ out there for fans of the sky blues, keep it up!

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