|[Blog] Why Simon Clegg Must Go|
Written by SouperJim on Sunday, 12th Feb 2012 13:37
I've had my doubts about Mr Clegg for some time now, but the 50% refund fiasco he is currently presiding over has finally convinced me. He is a walking PR disaster who is doing immeasurable damage to our club. He must go and he must go NOW.
I've seen many derogatory posts about our chief executive, both on the forums and in news posts, over the last three years. Some have had merit, some less so, with most receiving varying amounts of opposition.
Often exactly why Clegg is such a poor chief exec has seemed hard to quantify, we aren't furnished with details on exactly what his day to day job is and what responsibility he does or doesn't have.
Some criticism he has received can also be put down to a simple class divide. However, for me there are now numerous concrete examples of how Mr Clegg's performance has been wholly inadequate and why Marcus Evans should pull the plug.
Firstly, you can argue that Simon is not a 'football man', that his experience as the British Olympic Association chief executive not directly relevant to his role here at ITFC.
What role did Simon play in bringing Roy Keane to this football club? Speaking shortly after his arrival, Clegg said Keane was "absolutely right for this football club" and would bring "promotion to the Premier League at the earliest opportunity".
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it is clear to most supporters that Roy Keane was absolutely wrong for this football club and the short-termist attitude to success we have shown since Simon walked through the door has undoubtedly seen us go backwards.
During Keane's tenure, all the noise coming out of the football club and indeed from Simon himself was that "decisions on transfers will be made collectively". Fast forward four transfer windows later and Keane is on his way out of the club having, by and large, wasted a small fortune on some very average players and having let the promising Jordan Rhodes leave for what could now be considered peanuts.
To top it all off, the contracts of the small handful of senior players who were keeping our heads above water had been allowed to run down without new deals being agreed. What was Simon Clegg's exact role in all of this?
Mr Keane's parting shot of "I made the mistake of agreeing to take the job before I met the chief executive" suggests that he at least considered some of the blame to belong at Clegg's door. Sour grapes? When asked why the club allowed their contracts to run down, Clegg would only say "I don’t really want to get into the specifics of it".
So, on to the Paul Jewell era. An end to the short-termist attitude? Project get-out-of-the-division-tomorrow-by-throwing-money-at-it finally shelved in favour of a little insight? Certainly that doesn't seem to have been the case up to the current transfer window, despite an apparent shift in Mr Clegg's involvement in transfers following the Charlie Austin debacle. With the player apparently in Simon's office and ready to sign, he was instead allowed to go and speak to Burnley, who didn't similarly squander their opportunity.
Not soon after, and Mr Clegg was at it again, this time upsetting contract negotiations with existing players by publicly stating that the club would not be "held to ransom", with the likes of Damien Delaney then suggesting that all he had been doing was patiently waiting at the end of a phone for Mr Clegg to show him a little courtesy rather than gobbing off to the press.
And so we come to more recent developments. After the 7-1 thrashing at Peterborough, Simon then managed to arguably turn what was an unusually in-touch decision to offer free coaches to Blackpool into another PR disaster. When asked, live on Radio Suffolk, what he would do for those supporters who couldn't attend the Blackpool game or had already spent money on travel arrangements, he stumbled over his spin-doctor's answer having been obviously unprepared for the question. Needless to say this left many supporters rather disgruntled. My issue here is not what the club did, but how it was delivered, much pomp and circumstance, but far less follow through.
This has now been followed up by similar gaffs such as his backing of the 'Supporters' Club rallying cry for certain fans to "grow up or stay away" (surely you should be showing a little guidance to those over-enthusiastic supporters Simon, not helping to drive a wedge through the fanbase) and his programme notes against Forest. Whilst we sat amongst the ruins of yet another failed promotion campaign, Simon proudly reassured us that he had been concentrating on the far more important business of giving the turnstiles a lick of paint. And I don't even have the energy to get into the rent agreement debacle.
Is Simon now simply an out-of-touch yes man, an incompetent spin-doctor and a powerless figurehead for Marcus Evans's drive to suck the life out of our club and turn us all in to happy consumers, filing silently through the (freshly-painted) turnstiles, wads of cash in hand?
But no, what’s this? A ticketing trial for the Middlesbrough game! Finally a little leadership Simon, finally a glimpse of a willingness to balance income against loyalty to the fanbase. A 25% reduction in ticket prices for those purchasing before the game, as a trial for a possible more permanent decrease if the increase in bums on seats shows promise.
Numbers were up, further buoyed by recent wins over West Ham and Coventry. In we all piled with a "Thank you Mr Clegg, aren't you a benevolent chief exec!" and then after half an hour, the game was off. The boos rang around Portman Road, why was the game allowed to begin if, freak changes in conditions aside, the pitch clearly wouldn't last the freezing temperatures until 5pm?
And against this backdrop of utter incompetence, it's Clueless Clegg to the rescue! Don't worry everybody, after paying 25% less to watch just 30 minutes of football, we'll only charge you 50% for the replay (travel costs aside and assuming you can make it)!
What a fantastic way to encourage those new fans that elected to take up the reduced-priced tickets! They'll be queuing up to fork out for the replay, safe in the knowledge that Mr Clegg has got their back. But it's not his fault folks, he is "guided by league regulations" and after all, the terms and conditions to cover this eventuality are printed on the back of your ticket, dear consumer.
Once again Mr Clegg proudly steps out onto the Radio Suffolk stage to be humiliated live on air, stumbling over his words as the presenter, very gently so as to not rock the boat, points out to Simon that this decision might not be well received. Furiously back-pedal Simon, tell us that you'll look at it in the coming days, despite the damage already being done and you being shown up once again as the completely out of touch dotard that you are.
The fans must come first, without us, there is no football club. This utter contempt for people who have supported the club, through thick and thin, for countless years must end here. We are not pound notes Simon, we are people and we pay your wages. Without us, you are nothing.
Mr Evans, if ever you needed an excuse to bring to an end this sorry tenure of 'our' chief executive, I would suggest you have it and I would urge you to act now, before Simon starts the avalanche that will finally bury your business model.
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