STATEMENT FROM THE WATFORD SUPPORTERS TRUST
The Watford Supporters Trust would like to thank Rob Edwards and his staff for their work at and commitment to Watford FC over the past few months. In particular, we appreciate their clear efforts to rebuild the connection between supporters and the club and its players.
We also welcome Slaven Bilić and wish him the best of success at Watford.
The Trust is deeply disappointed by Watford’s decision to fire Edwards at this time and feels it reflects broader issues within the club that must be addressed.
This past summer, the club told supporters that it accepted it had to change and saw Edwards as the man to lead that process. Many supporters felt reassured by these statements and welcomed the prospect of stable, sustainable progress under a young, ambitious head coach, particularly after a second relegation in three years and the past promise of lessons learned.
Just a few months later, there are again significant questions about the club’s long-term strategy and model. This includes the ability to identify and support head coaches, the approach for recruitment and player development, the roles of its leadership team and their external contacts, and the commitment to improve and restore Watford’s club culture. These are not new issues, so it is particularly unsatisfactory that they remain unsolved.
Since the current owner took over in 2012, Watford has enjoyed Premier League football, benefitted from a transformed Vicarage Road, and experienced greater financial stability than in the prior decade. We greatly appreciate this period of success and the special memories it has created, and hope for even more in the future.
The relationship between supporters and their club is based on shared trust, respect and transparency. Sadly, uncertainty and volatility on and off the pitch are fuelling a growing level of frustration and discontent amongst some supporters. We strongly encourage Watford’s owner and leadership to listen to supporters’ feedback through all channels, take swift action to address it, and communicate directly to supporters on how real, lasting change will be made at the club.
We are currently in conversation with a number of supporters groups to get their thoughts and welcome views below."
Football supporters know all too well the impact that changes to the fixture schedule have. Often plans are rearranged and expense incurred when a match is moved to accommodate cup football or for tv scheduling. We have very little, if any, say, despite being the most put on stakeholders in the game. We’ve recently started to meet with Sky and BT to put forward supporter views on these changes and to look at ways we can mitigate this impact.
However the news that has broken this week, that Sky plan to fill their ‘Super Sunday’ tv picks, despite this falling on Christmas Eve, is hugely disappointing and frustrating for supporters. Whilst the discussion has been dominated by the likelihood of an Arsenal v Liverpool fixture on 24th December, choices have not yet been finalised and any club is still available to be chosen for these slots.
This cannot happen and no fixtures should be scheduled for that day. Supporters would be faced with the unenviable task of deciding between family, friends and loved ones and any pre-existing plans for that time of year or continuing your loyalty and support for their club.
Staff would also face similar difficulties. Public transport shuts down early on Christmas Eve. Made to work, their plans and priorities are challenged in pursuit of a tv spectacle. These staff aren’t the well paid millionaires, but the catering, hospitality stewarding and security personnel required to fulfil a fixture. This extends further to police, local authority and others who will have to work to facilitate such a change.
None of these, like supporters, share in the Premier League riches or have Premier League style lifestyles and wages. This would be more take, with little given back.
This must not be allowed to happen, not this season and not in future seasons. We are more than willing to work with the broadcasters and the league to avoid such pitfalls for the benefit of all. After all, we don’t want this to be the ghost of Christmas future.
Now though, the decision makers must show this is the season of goodwill after all. Sky, the Premier League and the clubs have to recognise that whilst there is a tv slot available, this is unacceptable and is a step too far.
Supporters should be included within any decisions in relation to such drastic changes and this is not something that is being taken lightly. We have already successfully campaigned for cheaper away tickets and will continue our work to ensure that match going fans are treated as fairly as possible.
Watford FC Supporters Trust are deeply saddened at the news of Graham Taylor passing. Graham was a wonderful man who, without doubt, built Watford to the club that it is today. Watford FC has arranged for flowers to be placed outside to club shop for fans to mark remembrance to the remarkable Graham Taylor.
Recent meeting with Watford FC
Please click here to download the notes that were taken during out recent meeting with Watford FC.
Peter Brown Chair. WST
We are deeply distressed at hearing the sad news of the death of Watford Supporter Chris Dyer and the serious injury to his partner whilst on holiday in Tunisia.
We offer our deepest condolences to all of their families.
Whilst writing we offer condolences to all the persons deceased families and a speedy recovery to those who have injuries from this barbaric act of terrorism.
We are all fans of the game and stand united against all terrorism.
Peter Brown Chair. WST