Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Balance in the media

Some Franchise customers have been very fond in the last couple of years of moaning about the 'lack of balance' in media coverage of the whole Franchise FC issue. As I've pointed out before, this is baseless in the first place because the basic truth is that the vast majority of football people think the creation of Franchise FC was wrong, so why would they change that opinion just because time has passed? Just because the facts make Franchise FC, Winkelman and Franchise customers look bad, doesn't make them any less true when repeated. There hasn't been a lack of balance - Franchise customers just don't like the truth about 'their' club and what was done to create it.

However, I do think there is evidence of some media bias over the whole matter - and it has been in favour of Franchise, not against it. What I'm referring to is the near complete absence of analysis or publicity on the effect of parachuting a franchised Football League team into Milton Keynes on the other clubs in the area, both FL and non-League. We've seen plenty of sycophantic coverage about Franchise's academy and community involvement, but where have been the stories about taking talented youngsters away from other local sides or depleting the fanbase from other local clubs? Well, finally, after 9 long years, someone has had the nerve to pipe up...

This weekend just gone by, Franchise saw fit to have an 'Aylesbury Day', seeking to attract customers from Aylesbury, which is as far away from MK as Northampton, Luton and Bedford are. Unlike the first two of those towns it doesn't have a Football League side. Customers were offered a £5 bus ticket return to the game with Wycombe, with pick-up points around Aylesbury. This did not go down well with the local non-League sides, as you can imagine!

One of the Franchise forums reported the response of the chairmen of Aylesbury's two biggest teams:

The Bucks Herald report (not available directly online at time of posting - follow-up now available here: http://www.bucksherald.co.uk/sport/football/aylesbury-fc/we_need_a_top_team_to_stop_dons_takeover_1_3300374) includes this: "Aylesbury FC chairman Danny Martone said "It's all about the big boys bullying the small boys, It's sad and disappointing because we've got a lot of good contacts with MK Dons and then they go and do something like this. We're going to suffer and Aylesbury United are going to suffer. We played them in a pre-season friendly a couple of seasons ago and are trying to arrange one for next year. I've spoken to Pete Winkelman (MK Dons chairman) and he said they've got to make money. I can only hope that the people of the town see this for what it is....a gimmick"."

 If Franchise customers want balance in the media, then it's about time we saw a lot more of this sort of coverage on the effect a franchised League place is having on other clubs. There's plenty of anecdotal evidence of the loss of customers from other local clubs like Northampton and Luton - and of course the local non-League clubs in the MK area, which had small local support before Franchise arrived, have also been affected. What chance does any club in MK, except Franchise FC, have of advancement now? As near none as makes no difference.

The fact that Franchise is trying this kind of aggressive marketing into neighbouring towns and into the catchment areas of other clubs, tells you all you need to know about the lies that were told about the 250,000 in MK supposedly in a frenzy for Franchise FC to arrive. The complete lie about being the largest area in Europe without a professional football team is even more starkly revealed when they start deliberately encroaching on other clubs catchment areas. The reality is that to stand a chance of survival, they're having to look far outside MK for customers and they're now trying to poach the fans of other clubs.

And what do some Franchise customers make of it all? I'll leave you with a quote from the thread linked to above:

"Franchise strikes again, don't bother stealing the clubs, steal the fans instead, love it. Chairboys must be leaking fans to us at a heck of a rate"

Nice, eh? So, next time you see a Franchise customer bleating about media coverage or claiming Franchise is good for football in the area, make sure they know that is very far from the truth.

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