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The ‘Big Club ‘ Debate

22 January 2013 by

The middle of the season and the middle of January – otherwise known as ‘Silly Season’.  A time where Chairmen panic, Managers get sacked on a whim and clubs scramble for the signature of players whom they hope will save their season – albeit for an over inflated price.

This, in turn, kicks off another round of the ‘Big Club’ debate, usually sparked by a fans outrage that a ‘smaller’ club dare to be linked with one of their players – let alone actually put a bid in for him.

I cannot be the only one who is indeed bored with but also intrigued by the importance attached to calling your team a ‘Big Club’ – as if it were some sort of extension of one’s own reason for existence.

There is, as we all know, many interpretations of what defines a ‘Big Club’ in the eyes of those who put their own team into this category. The list below is not exhaustive but gives some idea of what is included:

League Titles, European Titles, Trophies Won (total), Size of Ground, Years in the top flight, Turnover, Depth of Owner’s Pocket, Global Fan Base, Which League you Play In,  Age of Club, Random Historic facts (no Matter how obscure), Profile of Players, Ambition, Coverage on TV / Press

It is endless and there are many more.

I toyed with the idea of developing a formula, using all of these factors, in order to get a definitive decision on where each club sat in the pecking order so that we could settle the debate, however I soon realised two things:

1)      There will always be a debate about how the factors were weighted

2)      It takes too long and my interest didn’t last long enough

Therefore I thought of a separate approach, namely, asking why we care about it at all.

Virtually all football fans have been in the position, at some point, of frustration and despair at the decision of a manager or player to leave our club for one that we consider inferior – usually trotting out one of the reasons above as to why it is a bad move.  To counter the point, a fan of the other club will use another reason from the list as a rebuke and everyone then wades in with view (and never is there a clear winner).

All fans are passionate about their club and the club has an importance to us which cannot be quantified, however the overriding message that prevails does not seem to be that most fans want their club to be considered ‘Big’ but more they do not want it to be seen as inferior.

I for one don’t care if my club will never have the biggest ground, most fans, most titles or any of that stuff.  I just want to go every week, enjoy it and ultimately want it to still be there for generations afterwards so that I have something to talk about and memories to share.  However, when someone tells me that it is not important or inferior to their team, I find something specific about my club to give it a point of difference and restore my own sense of pride.

Therefore, ‘The Biggest Club’ does not really exist to me anymore – MY Club does and if it is only me left supporting it – then it is still my club and it will still be the biggest Club in my own eyes.  So, feel free to tell me your club is bigger than mine and give reasons from the list above because simply it doesn’t matter.  My club is mine and all the reasons in the world won’t stop me from supporting it no matter where it plays, who plays for it and whether it wins or loses.

Of course – should it no longer exist – then I guess I could work on that formula again…………….

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