Date: 20th September 2007 at 1:40pm
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It seems that football clubs shed their managers with ever increasing frequency these days – even those who have achieved great success just prior to removal. So imagine my total lack of surprise when I read on the train this morning that Jose Mourinho had left Chelsea FC by ‘mutual consent`. Don`t you just love that phrase, it can mean almost anything in football:

Mutual: of or pertaining to each of two or more; held in common.

Consent: to permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield.

So they either agreed to hate each other, or Roman Abramovich permitted Jose to leave or perhaps Jose complied with Roman`s wishes, etc. who knows? Well we do all know that Roman and Jose were never going to be spending their days hunting together at Camp David but they obviously did agree on one thing – that Stamford Bridge was not big enough for the both of them. .

This did lead me to ponder one thing. Is it any coincidence then that with the Premiership managerial merry-go-round spinning at 180 rpm, the role of chairman/owners within clubs has become ever more prominent?

Football clubs need a figure head that`s for sure. Historically it has been either a fat cat chairman such as Ken Bates or a charismatic manager such as our own late, great BC. So when did this axis begin to swing towards chairman? Exactly the same time that television rights, commercial re-branding and cash became more important than both supporters and entertainment at a guess.

More often now we hear the names Mandaric, Bates, Abramovich, Glazier, etc. more than the clubs they represent, or the players/managers whose wages they pay to provide us with our Saturday afternoon fare. The dawn of the megalomaniac owner is upon us it would seem and there is very little we can do about it.

We are often told that it is players and agents that run the game and to an extent that may be true. However, we have always had players and agents are not a completely modern phenomenon. The biggest change in football is the pound sign and this has been brought about by the ambitions and some would say greed of chairman and owners that want to direct the fortunes of a club like the master of all puppets.

Of course if chairman are the masters and players/managers the puppets, what exactly does that make us? Poetically you could say that we are the string that holds them together. Perhaps more realistically we are paying customers that watch the show regardless of how expensive, lacklustre and unprofessional it gets.

This is not true of all chairmen of course. I must mention names such as Steve Gibson at Middlesbrough and Dave Whelan of Wigan who have continued to respect the traditions of the game and treated the managers, players and fans with the kind of honesty and integrity you would hope of a true supporter. Without being a supporter of a team, it is far too easy for interest to wane and funds to be withdrawn. A club must be sustainable and judging by the poor attendance at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night it makes you wonder exactly how sustainable a club like Chelsea really is.

I only hope that the next man who comes into Nottingham Forest to replace Nigel Doughty is also a real Forest supporter, whenever that may be?..

 

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