Monday, September 06, 2004

Away games and tourist restaurants....

There has been keen debate about the issue of our disappointing away support, and I firmly come down on the side of the 'who cares?' brigade, arguing even that it reflects positively on our supporters. I would compare the typical away day experience as the same feeling you get when you eat in a restaurant clearly aimed at tourists (whether it be Times Square or Leicester Square). The comparision goes as follows:


"provide minimal comfort and quality":"provide minimal comfort and quality"
"customer tired from the journey":"customer tired from the journey"
"overcharge the customer":"overcharge the customer"
"provide photos of the food":"provide photos of the visiting team"
"zero chance of repeat business":"zero chance of repeat business"
"customer referrals irrelevant":"customer referrals irrelevant"

I would argue that unlike the hungry tourist who MUST eat, today's away fan has a choice.....simply refuse any longer to put up with the cr*p that goes with the away game experience. There are not many businesses where the provider knows that however good its service and experience, the customer will simply not return (tourist restaurants are one of the few I can come up with). It is highly unlikely that I will attend say Man City's fine new stadium and think, "yeah, this is better than the Valley....I'm coming back in a fortnight." And of course all clubs (including Charlton) know this very well and thus make no effort to accomodate the visiting fan in comfort. I suspect many of our 'missing' away fans have thought along the same lines as myself - ie. I don't HAVE to go to the game, and I'm unwilling to pay over the odds for a third-rate experience. Occasionally the sheer importance of the game (eg. Man Utd 6th Round FA Cup, Newcastle first Premiership away game etc..) overrides all of the above, but as these stadia becomes the norm for us, this begins to become a rarity. I should add that I say all of this as a fan who lived through the dark days of the 1980s (I was mascot twice), paid £1 as a Junior Red to stand below the Arthur Wait Stand, and who stood on the North Bank at Upton Park with barely 3,000 other fans so I am not one of the 'new fans' who are often the target for vitriol.

Then again maybe I'm just getting old.....even the thought of going to a pub these days without being able to sit down is a trauma in itself....


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