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Future
It's happening By: Eric Hitchmo 20/07/2012




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We are back. After a long summer of nothingness from this site, we are back. We must apologise, however I'm sure many of you will appreciate the need for a complete break from this stressful business of following Barnet Football Club. It has been a summer of complete bliss, being able to switch off entirely from Barnet, with the Euros providing ample distraction. Still at this point, I am not entirely back into the swing of things, in fact I am not even close. I have not been overly excited about the fixtures or anything like that, perhaps the first time in my eleven years of supporting this club that I have felt this way. It's odd, yet strangely refreshing. I'm not sure what it's going to take to reignite my desire for football, perhaps it will be the upcoming friendly at St. Albans, but I won't be holding my breath on that one.

As such, this article is not about the football side of things, rather a matter that has been brewing away all summer and the conclusion of which will be found at the end of this campaign. It is of course the matter of where we will be playing next year and beyond, played out amongst a backdrop of reasoned debate, bickering and a touch of childishness between supporters. There are many valid concerns being raised, however the manner in which they are sometimes put across and the elements of supposed underhandedness in doing so have led to a fractious relationship between the club and its main supporters body, and indeed that very same supporters body with its members. That the Barnet FC Supporters Trust require a lot of hard work to regain and repair the working relationship the BFCSA had with the club is undoubted.

Every individual involved with the board of the Trust is capable of reasoned conversation about Barnet FC, I don't think there is much doubt about that. However, without trying to open old wounds, in the past there have been incidents where the conduct of elected board members have directly affected the relationship between the club and the one and only supporters body that Barnet has. Therefore, that leaves me wondering, and I'm sure I can't be the only person, whether this Trust represents my views, hence why I am not a member and don't intend to be. Perhaps that is contradictory, and if I really wanted to make my view heard I would become a member or even stand for election to its board. Do I have a right to a view if I'm not a member of the Trust? Of course I do, I pay my money, I have an opinion which should be heard, just as much as anyone elses, regardless of whether they are a Trust member. The fact that the Trust has around 300 members suggests that they don't have the full fanbase under their wing, however they have shown that they will consult all supporters in their recent survey. Even with that taken into account, 300 against around 1,500 won't convince many that they can gain a broad understanding of the entire fanbase. In truth, my experience of the Trust has left me totally indifferent, and the amount of bickering that occurs on message boards, social networking sites or by whatever means possible does not go unnoticed.

The whole situation seems to based around the club's impending move to The Hive. For what it's worth, I have doubts about it, I think we all do. There is also a valid case in considering whether the supporters have been fully engaged by the football club with regards to this huge upheaval. The Trust should be presenting their doubts, and the doubts of their members and the fanbase beyond in a constructive manner. From what I have seen so far, this does not appear to have been the case. There have been accusations flying around about the conduct of board members in Harrow which you would hope, really hope, are not true. If they are, and I must emphasise the use of the word if, then it really doesn't bode well. Is it any wonder that there is disillusionment if this is what is happening in our name? This may of course all be hypothetical, and if board members were not outside public meetings angrily voicing their disapproval at Barnet's proposed move to The Hive then they deserve an apology. However, the thought that this could have been the case is disoncerting at best.

Progress with The Hive appears to hurtling along at great speed. With Harrow Council approving the changes to the lease allowing Football League matches to be played at the stadium (would it have been easier if we'd been relegated? Guffaw, guffaw) it now seems that all of the arrows point away from Underhill after this upcoming season. A massive twist of fate pending, this will be our future. This will no doubt lump gallons of fuel onto the raging fire of the debate over whether this is the right thing for Barnet FC. I have always been firmly in the "pro" camp, but have always made sure to emphasise the serious doubts that I and other people have, each of which have some real validity.

After nearly two decades of wrangling and very little to show for it, this seems to me to a bit more of a relief than anything else, but the reality has just hit. We're actually going to leave Underhill aren't we? Unfortunately though, and however much you don't like it, sentimentality is having less and less of a say in how football is run and one line I will tow until I'm blue in the face is that Underhill holds us back as a professional football club. While it is not the sole reason why we struggle every year, it's certainly a factor. More or less every other club in the division has some sort of facility that allows them to bring in income seven days a week, whereas we do not. The Hive, however, has potential and more to do so, and that will allow us to at least gain a bit of foothold in this division for once. One question I would ask which I don't think I've seen an answer to would be; what happens to Underhill now? Does it just fall into disrepair for the next ten years? Will it ever get used in a football capacity again? OK, that's more than one question, but you get my drift.

What The Trust must do now is represent the views of their members in a fair manner and put to one side the fighting that has blighted their existence so far. Without trampling on their own personal views, which they are of course entitled to, their job as elected members is to incorporate everyone else's with their own, something which perhaps has not been apparent of late. We all want what's best for Barnet FC, I don't think anyone would doubt that, however we do have 1,500 or so people who have a different view on how that would be achieved. Collating that and putting it into a reasonable stance is no mean feat, and the findings of the consultation should be a part of the message The Trust puts across. There should be more engagement with the fanbase in order to put across the fairest view it can. If a majority of the fanbase wants this move, then it must back that, while of course taking into account the minority concerns. If it is a minority, that is.

If there is to be one big loser in all of this, then it is sure to be Barnet Council. Their years of stumbling blocks and obstacles now appear to be at an end, and they stand to lose a valuable community commodity. That said, whilst they appear happy to wave us goodbye, they are quickly welcoming Saracens into their midst, a decision which makes little to no sense to me, but we haven't got time to discuss that particular 'sport'. Perhaps that's what they want? It will be interesting to note the reaction of the public in Barnet on this one, as I certainly haven't heard much noise so far. Are the people concerned about losing their football club? I am not suggesting for one second that this should be a catalyst or a justification to move, I'm simply stating that I've not seen much opposition to it. Perhaps I'm wrong, would anyone care to point me in the right direction?

The club needs to be very careful now. It has a fanbase that on the whole I would say are pretty disillusioned with the footballing side and are very concerned about a six mile move away from home. If this is to be a success, and the club wishes to keep these people on side, it must do everything in its power to do so and cost should be a secondary issue. If it means shuttle buses to and from Barnet (a depressing thought in itself, frankly) then so be it. If it means well run bars on site then so be it. There will be some people that don't follow the club after its move, owing to their views on it, or simply the logistical nightmare it proves, or for whatever reason it may be, however they absolutely must bend over backwards to appease the people that do stay and make it feel like Barnet Football Club. Otherwise, you would begin to sympathise with those who would label the club "Harrow Bees" or somesuch, because it just wouldn't be the same club. I don't think that we will all be forgotten, by any stretch of the imagination, so hopefully now that the green light is flashing, we will be informed of just how the club plans to treat its fans.

You may think that I'm sounding a little bit like I feel the club owes us something. Well, yes, I do actually. This is such a huge decision and turning point in our history, and it will affect how every single one of the people who has backed the club, put money into the club, followed it for miles and miles around this country will support it. The loyalty should be returned. It's a concern, hopefully a concern that will be allayed over the forthcoming season where the club has ample opportunity to lay out its plans for the future.

Let us hope now that with this in the pipeline, we can finally put an end to the endless. The noise about ground issues has been a constant thorn in the side of Barnet for years and years. With a move imminent, this could finally be laid to rest, for ten years at least. What happens at the end of this ten year tenure remains to be seen, but that's a bridge we can cross when we come to it. For now, we can try and look forward to reaching the light at the end of the tunnel.




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All Articles By This Author:

Date 
24/04/2013 Farewell
19/04/2013 Underhill
03/04/2013 Away
02/02/2013 Questions
21/12/2012 Miserable
07/11/2012 Corner
21/10/2012 Win
15/10/2012 Burst
08/10/2012 Glimmer
04/10/2012 Same
12345678910...


Other Articles By Category


Date 
24/04/2013 Farewell
19/04/2013 Underhill
03/04/2013 Away
02/02/2013 Questions
21/12/2012 Miserable
07/11/2012 Corner
21/10/2012 Win
15/10/2012 Burst
08/10/2012 Glimmer
04/10/2012 Same
12345678910...

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