Leeds United, alongside Charlton Athletic, are two clubs where fans are protesting against the ownership of their respective clubs.
At the Addicks, the protest is led by the Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet (CARD) whilst the Whites voice of dissension is led by fan group Time To Go, Massimo (TTGM).
Since a simple poster went up, then was taken down amid legal threats claiming an harassment of Massimo Cellino, TTGM has put on an ever-increasingly ingenious display of protests that have spread their dissatisfaction to a wider audience, extending their ‘reach’ so-to-speak.
Entirely crowd-funded by concerned supporters of their cause to remove Cellino from ownership of the club they love, TTGM have orchestrated some quite frankly brilliant stunts such as projected caricatures of Massimo and his promises onto the East Stand awnings. Added to this, there has been a mock funeral, complete with coffin in club colours and a massive television screen broadcasting a multitude of Cellino’s broken promises.
Another protest is planned for the Reading home game on the April 16, the protest itself being a march from the city centre to finish outside the East Stand. Whilst not a ‘Million Man March’ in the scale of that organised in Washington, USA to put forward a view of the Black man in America, it will draw to it a similar grouping of believers united in a belief in their particular cause.
The thing is though, will it be effective? Will the TTGM march hammer home the intended effect? Indeed, will it add anything other than a notch in the protest’s bedpost or a tick in the protest’s ‘Done that…’ box?
3 things that will limit the TTGM protest
1. Boots on the ground – show of strength
For a protest to really capture the imagination and the headlines, it ideally needs three things: persistence, presence and people.
There is no doubting that the TTGM protests have the first two elements, those of persistence and presence, with the protests on-going and still gaining local, national and international recognition and exposure. It’s the third element, ‘people’ where it could fall down.
It’s all very well claiming a majority in sentiment and principle but it is support on the ground that matters. I suppose what I am getting at is that numbers are important for a protest to be taken seriously. Take the march on April 16 before the game against Reading, numbers will be scrutinised.
What numbers will make it a success, that’ll be subjectively decided. What is for sure is that a 50-strong march will be dismissed as ineffective, whereas a 500-strong march will have an element of success attached to it.
2. Perceived lack of progress towards aims.
Otherwise definable as supporter apathy, and that is definitely something Leeds United fans know about. The TTGM protest has an ultimate aim of seeing owner Massimo Cellino harried and chased from Elland Road. What if Cellino stubbornly stays put, the protests intensify, Cellino stays put still and an impasse develops.
A war of attrition develops, a battle of wills between Cellino and the TTGM collective. It’s usually the beseiging army that wins out against the besieged enemy, but can TTGM last out against a dug-in Cellino? Or will there many protests build up and merely break against his seemingly impregnable defences. If these protests continue and meet stubborn Cellino resistance, how soon before morale starts to waver?
3. How deep the pockets are.
If scenarios 1 and 2 begin to bite in, then funding for future protests becomes paramount. Then it all depends on the generosity of the crowd-funded backers and their willingness to continue to dig deep should the protest movement be showing less and less chance of succeeding.
The depths of the pockets of these individual fan donors are not bottomless. This isn’t a US Presidential campaign where the donations are from huge corporations, these are individual donations from individual donors. Should they view the aims of the protest as waining, will they continue to dig deep?
Before the haters jump on this and accuse me of being ‘pro-Cellino’ and likely to join a protest at Billy’s statue with an IMWT flag, not true. I’m on the outside, well caught between really both sides of the protest. I actually do think that the protests are relevant and valid, I just wonder how long they’ll remain that way.