Two weeks ago I mentioned how clubs were further away from their supporters than ever before and the gap was growing. Quite a number of Villa fans took me to task and said that their new owner chairman Dr Tony Xia was exactly the opposite. To be fair it’s true he does communicate with the fans via the social media site Twitter.
However as honourable as it is, in my opinion it’s fraught with danger. On the positive side he answers virtually every tweet he gets about anything from transfers to stewarding to the club shop and for that he has to be commended as many clubs believe in keeping their supporters in the dark and therefore don’t say anything whatsoever.
He says he only tweets because he want’s Villa fans to get more understanding and knowledge and that is to his credit.
He reveals details about possible transfer deals, in fact he had a picture of him and new signing James Chester long before the clubs media department had officially confirmed the story. He also imparted to the fans that Villa had agreed to pay some of Joleon Lescott’s wages had he completed his move to Scotland. So to be fair he is a supporters dream giving out facts direct to fans instead of the usual PR rubbish that most clubs distribute.
However when he makes statements such as making Villa “The top club in Europe with the highest number of fans all over the world” within five years he is asking for trouble. No matter how fan friendly that is, he is putting unnecessary pressure on himself and his Head Coach Roberto Di Matteo. No one admires positivity and the glass half full mentality than me but it has to be liberally sprinkled with realism.
What happens if things don’t go so well on the pitch? Will he stop answering questions? Especially ones telling him to sack or get rid of his manager or a player. Of course if he does withdraw he could end up getting some stick himself.
Still I have to say it’s refreshing to hear him speak with such frankness and honesty in a game where that rarely happens.
Over at St Andrews Panos Pavlakis has also used social media to communicate with his club’s supporters and rebuild bridges that had been broken by the previous owners. However he is getting lots of different advice from fans about what he should do after the defeat to Wolves.
It is almost inevitable in the modern world that social media sites facebook and twitter are used to get across information to supporters but as wonderful and as instant as they are, and I am a big user of both, they can and most definitely will cause problems.
My advice to any owner/director/manager/coach who uses or is thinking of using social media as a way of communicating is us it but don’t let it use you.