When I posted on the argument brewing between the Northern Premier League, Invision (who provide a live broadband match service) and FC United of Manchester before on here, I wouldn’t have guessed at the surprising events that have come about since and these events are threatening to spiral out of control. Following on from FCUM’s initial request that their supporters do not travel to Curzon Ashton next Saturday. Firstly, Invision used the BBC’s Monday night Non-League radio show as a right to reply, and in it they utterly refuted FC United’s claims. United issued a formal complaint to the league, feeling that the “television company” (and I use the phrase loosely, as this is not a television company that as you would normally describe it) had stopped not far short of slandering them. In an amazing public statement made on Friday, the Northern Premier League came down on the side of their commercial partners. Consider, if you will, some of these comments:
– FC United supporters who have expressed concerns that they do not support the boycott but are frightened for their personal safety from a minority who wish to take aggressive action against anyone who doesn’t share their views. The Northern Premier League is claiming that it has been contacted by a minority of FC United of Manchester supporters who want to go to the Curzon Ashton game but feel too scared to? This is an allegation that should be passed to the police and to FC United for them to deal with, unless… it’s a pack of lies.
– FC United of Manchester have stated that the UniBond League ignored the wishes of both clubs after having initially consulted them over the change to the kick off time. As with all matches that are subject to being covered by NPL TV the home club is consulted as to the operational logistics to being visited by the TV crew. Curzon Ashton FC was consulted to ensure there would be no operational difficulties with regards to bringing the kick off time forward. Nice bit of spin, chaps, but it doesn’t really mean anything. Confirming that there are no “operational difficulties” is not the same as saying that you’re happy with it.
– [This has] led to a number of unwelcome issues and allegations which constitute a total negation of the sporting ethos of the Unibond League and its member clubs. Well, at least we know where we stand. The interests of the TV people are a higher priority than those of the fans of the clubs or, indeed, the clubs themselves.
– The UniBond League is disappointed that FC United of Manchester have advised their supporters not to attend the away fixture at Curzon Ashton as this action only harms one of their fellow member clubs. Bullshit. FC United of Manchester’s obligation is to field a team to play at Curzon Ashton next Saturday. Nothing more, nothing less. It is unfortunate that a club will be affected financially by this, but no Northern Premier League club has an automatic right to the money of FCUM supporters. This comment seems to indicate that the Northern Premier League has little but contempt for the supporters of FC United of Manchester.
The person that issued this amazingly insulting press release should be sacked, and an immediate vote of no confidence should be held by the League’s members towards the entire committee of the Northern Premier League. To issue such an attack aimed at a member club which has broken no rules (with the possible exception of something vague about “bringing the league into disrepute” but, since no charges have been brought, I would say that it’s safe to say that none will follow) is an outrageously insulting thing to to do, and an indication of utter incompetence on the part of the people running this league. They may be stuck with each other, but we would all be better off without League mandarins that treat their own clubs and supporters with such contempt.