Today saw the announcement of the Cobblers offering up free season tickets to a group of supporters that we never could have imagined. The demotion of Rushden and Diamonds has ultimately been capitalised on by the Cobblers and, in a somewhat controversial move, the club have offered free season tickets for Diamonds supporters in exchange for any that they have purchased to see the Nene Park club for next season.
Diamonds are now set to try and rebuild at a lower level but their fans have been given an opportunity to swap a season watching virtual unheard of sides for a Football League season ticket. It begs the question what you would do if the boot was on the other foot and personally I can’t see any Cobblers fans that I know of that would accept such an initiative if we were the ones going out of business and Diamonds or, God forbid, Peterborough offered a similar deal.
I understand, in part, the business sense in that increased number of people through the gate would mean more sales of merchandise, food etc but I’m feeling like the Cobblers are in the wrong here. Diamonds are, albeit on a knife edge, still alive and what we’re offering is to take away a section of supporters from a club that is now set to be a minnow of the football world. What good does it do to football in general to make this offer? The grass roots of the game are in trouble as it is and although many will not accept the deal being put to them, you have to suspect that some of them will.
It’s a morale test for the type of fan that’s put money into a season ticket already and, though they won’t get the type of return they were expected a couple of months ago, you would imagine that if they were die-hard fans like some say they would have no decision to make whatsoever. It wouldn’t take a heartbeat for me to decide if an offer like that was made to me and supporting the Cobblers at any level means more to me than watching any level of football presented to me.
Then there’s the other side of the story. Don’t I want the Cobblers’ attendances to increase? Well yes of course I do, but I also know that from past experience we can draw in our own fans and pack the stadium if we’re doing well. Do we really want to welcome back to the club some of those that deserted us back when Diamonds briefly overtook us in the league ladder thanks to a certain Mr Griggs?
There’s an element of Town fans who want to see Diamonds go under, through sheer rivalry or anger at what happened a few years back. But with supporters, what you need is people who have claret and white in their blood, not a little bit of blue and white as and when it suits. I would love to see 5,000 season tickets being sold and sold out games most weeks but only if it means that the people coming to watch us are coming simply because they love the Cobblers and not because there’s nothing else to do on a Saturday.
Fans that desert a football club when it’s on its knees? Not the type of person we need making the Sixfields turnstiles rotate.