I was intrigued when a fan of a Premier Football Club posted the following tweet:
‘Leave my club.’
It was a three letter comment to the owner of a Premier football club. My intrigue was sparked by a number of thoughts,
Did the fan own the club?
Did he think he owned the club?
Maybe he was the main shareholder?
Or was he some bloke who had invested a considerable amount of his life to supporting this club and that endows him with a sense of ‘ownership’?
Rightly we know that people like Roman Abramovich (Chelsea); Mike Ashley (Newcastle) own their clubs. In fact of the twenty Premier football clubs nine are owned by individuals or family concerns. And the fan who posted the tweet, ‘Leave my club’ is not one of them. So what was he saying? What accumulated processes had he gone through that made him think he owned a football club? Some will say it is allegiance built up over years of supporting this particular club, he may have invested so much of his being into it, that his daily existence is centred on the day-to-day experience of ‘his club’. And crucially the club is being mismanaged by some idiot who doesn’t know how to run ‘his club’!
Manchester City Ruined My Life by Colin Shindler, tells the story of his sorrowful disenchantment with his home town club as, on the instruction of its new foreign owners, it turns itself remorselessly into a global brand.
He wrote of experience of a life ruined. He mentions in one chapter that he was in a certain place when his club scored a crucial goal, now he has to always stand in that place as it might, just might, influence his team’s goal scoring ability. I know men who went to football matches as children and from that day onwards they have always only supported that team – for good or ill. Recently someone visiting from the USA was taken to watch a London team, not Premiership, and as a result he is now an ardent fan. He has the shirt, the scarf and the hat and can’t wait to get the results of matches in the States. Personally I think he’s bonkers, but I can understand that he got caught up in the game, it touched something in him and he has been hooked. It’s his team and he has only been to seen them play once!
If an owner decides that he will play all his home games behind closed doors there is not much anyone can do about it – apart from calling the Samaritans. Yet so powerful is this sense of identity, so consuming that we see more and more demonstration of this from the ‘fans’ (owners). The real owner doesn’t need to leave, to sell ‘his’ club, bring in a ‘real owner’ who knows the game; no, he just has to close the doors to the fans and take media money.
What is it in our psyche that generates this attachment?
Lead author Martha Newson, from the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford, said:
‘Our research suggests it is the intensity of emotion that counts, so their history of shared painful losses is as important as the joy of winning the league in creating “self-shaping” experiences. These experiences lead fans to fuse their own identity with that of their club and fellow supporters.’Martha Newson, OX, 2016
Being a follower of Christ can I be any less passionate about what Jesus has done and can do? My identity is fused with that of the resurrected Lord. I just need the hat, shirt and scarf…