Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Having a View Is Fine, but There Are Lines That Must Not Be Crossed

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Having a View Is Fine, but There Are Lines That Must Not Be Crossed

Article excerpt

Byline: PHILIP TALLENTIRE philip.tallentire@trinitymirror.com @PTALLENTIREGAZ

MODERN-DAY footballers are often accused of failing to connect with their own supporters.

Huge salaries allow players to live in glorious isolation in gated estates.

According to their critics, they travel to and from training and matches in huge four-by-fours with blacked out windows and rarely interact with their own fans.

That's the perception, if not always the reality, with many fans organising community events.

When footballers do attempt to keep up a dialogue with supporters they should be encouraged and applauded.

The usual method of interaction is Twitter and or Instagram and the results vary. From bland platitudes urging the lads 'to do better next week', to plugs for their sponsors, to holiday pics - usually from Dubai - the quality of the messages varies.

But at least the players are attempting to share a part of their lives with the supporters, who have an opportunity to comment or ask questions.

Usually, it's one-way traffic because players and manager rarely respond to individual messages or questions. To be fair, they often have thousands of followers and it is impractical for them to do so.

But there's no doubt they will scan comments, despite claims to the contrary.

Footballers say they don't read what's written about them in the media but you can rest assured they do.

That's why journalists often get criticised in person from a player who has been given a low performance rating following a match. Back to Twitter, which strips down the barrier between player and fan but that also means there's no precensoring of comments. Fans are simply trusted to respect boundaries of taste.

Most do, but there's a small percentage that cross the line and indulge in abuse.

It's always a dangerous game for journalists to criticise supporters. The ladies and gentlemen of the press watch football for free and are paid for the pleasure while fans invest thousands of pounds in their clubs and will be there long after a reporter has hung up his laptop.

Let's face it, without fans football is nothing, they are the lifeblood of a game which too often treats them with little respect.

Supporters certainly have every right comment on issues on and off the pitch that affect their club.

Nobody expects fans to shrug off a bad defeat or remain silent if they think the team is under-performing.

And the typical 'disappointing result but we go again next week' tweets from players and managers can come across as statements of the obvious.

But nobody has a free pass to hand out personal abuse.

In the days before social media, frustrated supporters would go home and kick the (proverbial) cat or vent their spleen in the boozer as they dissected the match with their mates over a couple of cold ones. …

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