Tottenham’s players’ refund to their traveling fans has the potential to set an interesting precedent. If a 6-1 loss at Newcastle is deemed worthy of a full refund for the 3,209 fans who witnessed their team’s non-appearance at St James’ Park, what happens if the team loses 3-0 at Liverpool on Sunday in their next away game? Half of their ticket money returned to the fans?
Is there a monetary equivalent to a sliding scale of dread? What happens after the above-average performances? Should Spurs’ players have gone to the exit gates after beating Manchester City in February and demanded a surcharge on the ticket price from departing fans?
After all, they had just defeated the English champions. The retaliation arrangement was a well-intended gesture, but it overlooked one fundamental aspect of being a fan. There is no divine right to a successful outcome.
Your team will disappoint you at some point during the season. It is simply unavoidable in any collective human activity. Someone will wake up on the wrong side of the bed, someone else will be tired, someone else will be carrying an injury on the sidelines but refusing to give up his spot, and the team will crumple before your eyes.
Obviously, if a club’s interim manager decides to change the defensive shape on the spur of the moment while visiting one of the league’s strongest sides, it can exacerbate the problem. Whatever the cause, nothing clicks, the team becomes unrecognizable for 90 minutes, and the fans feel as if they have wasted their money watching them.
If you can’t handle that, perhaps you should watch a Romcom with a guaranteed happy ending instead. Your team will be terrible at times. It is part of the unwritten agreement between the team and the fan. Manchester City, too, has off days from time to time.
In sports, despair is unavoidable, even necessary. A sunny day is meaningless without the contrast of a cloudy day. For a football fan, the misery is what fuels the elation when things go right.
Dalbeattie Star have only one win this season in the Scottish Lowland League. Suffering, the buzzword in manager-speak, occurs on a weekly basis for their small band of supporters. But imagine the joy at the Islecroft Stadium when they defeated Berwick Rangers in October.
Spurs win more games than they lose, but when their fans purchased tickets for the Newcastle game, they were not purchasing a guarantee. There was no guarantee. The agreement was simply that they would be allowed into St James’ Park to watch a football match in exchange for a fee of between £19 and £30. That they did.
It may have been an unpleasant one from their perspective, but it was undeniably a football match. A game ticket is essentially a blind rummage through a bran tub dip. You will eventually pull out the rubber tarantula.
That’s what Tottenham fans got at St James’ Park. While the refund, which cost the Spurs squad around £80,000, was undoubtedly appreciated, those who received it will know in their hearts that this isn’t the future.
No win, no fee football is an alien concept that breaks a golden rule.
The refund from Tottenham’s players to their travelling supporters threatens to set an interesting precedent. If a 6-1 defeat at Newcastle is judged to be worthy of a full return for the 3,209 who endured their side’s no-show at St James’ Park then what happens if the team lose 3-0 at Liverpool on Sunday in their next away game? Half their ticket money back for the fans?
Is there a sliding scale of dreadfulness that is measurable financially? Equally, what happens after the above-par performances? When Spurs beat Manchester City in February, should the players have made their way to the exit gates and demanded a surcharge on the ticket price from the departing fans?
They had just beaten the English champions after all. The payback arrangement was a well-intended gesture but overlooked one basic element about being a fan. There is no divine right to a good outcome.
At some point over the course of a season your team is going to let you down. It is just inevitable in a collective human activity. Someone will wake up on the wrong side of the bed, someone else will be weary, someone else will be carrying an injury on the quiet but not wanting to give up his place and before you know it the team crumples.
If a club’s interim manager happens to change the defensive shape on a whim while visiting one of the strongest sides in the league it can add to the issue, clearly. Anyway, whatever the contributing factors, nothing clicks, the team become unrecognisably terrible for 90 minutes and the supporters feel like they have wasted their money watching them.
But if you can’t deal with that then maybe go watch a Romcom with a guaranteed happy ending instead. Sometimes your team will be awful. It is part of the unwritten contract between team and supporter. Even Manchester City have their off days occasionally.
In sport despair is inevitable, necessary even. A sunny day means nothing without the contrast of a cloudy one. The misery for a football supporter is what makes the elation when things go right so good.