Monsieur Salut’s very lenient ground rules for deciding whether it is OK to support this or that club – see http://safc.blog/2012/08/chelsea-manchester-united-sunderland-the-rights-and-wrongs-of-choosing-your-club/ – have sparked lively debate. Robert Simmons, from the US of A, rose to the bait and responded in the form of a personal letter. This is all entirely light-hearted (Robbie is, in fact, mightily welcome here) and here he proposes some additional rules …
Dear Monsieur Salut,
I see that my article has caught your attention, and for that I am glad.
I am glad that I have got you thinking about what constitutes a real fan and what does not. I particularly like your rules, in fact, I would apply those to fans in America who are fans of teams playing in American sports leagues.
However, you do not include a category for fans like me. Some of us don’t have the honor and privilege of being born near a Premier League team. By your rules I have no way of having a club and should just give up in my following Sunderland. So even though I lack expertise or authority of any kind, I’d like to propose some rules that fans from America have to abide by as they choose the teams they follow.
Here are a few exceptions to the main rules:
* If the owner of your favorite American football or baseball team also owns a team in England you may be a fan of that team. However choose wisely, chances are that American owner may bankrupt your team in England (look out Man United and the Glazers).
* If your family’s ancestry is from a particular place in England you may choose a team from that area. However, you MUST choose the team that your family historically followed. If they are from London and followed QPR that’s who you get, you don’t get to choose Chelsea because they are the flavor of the week.
Further rules for choosing your team:
* Automatically rule out the big name, big money, bandwagon type teams. Unless one of the exceptions above applies to you, you may not choose a team just because it as a traditional power or a more recent power because a Russian or an Arab has poured millions in to it. This means Man United, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are out of the running for you.
* Do some research on the remaining clubs. Do any of their cities have things in common (industry, lifestyle) with the city where you live or city you associate with as home?
* Look at the support the club receives. Do the hometown fans love the club and turn out for matches? That will tell you a lot about what kind of club you are getting.
* What style football does the club play? You want to follow someone that you will enjoy watching.
Who owns the club? Does the owner look like he’s trying to make money out of the ownership or is he/she building a team that will last.
Once you choose a team, what should you do?
Get on Twitter and follow their fans, follow their players, and follow the club’s official Twitter handle.
Watch them on TV as much as you can.
Look the club up online and get to know the players.
Invest some money in buying the club’s home uniform, maybe a scarf, and any other memorabilia that catches your eye.
Once you pick a team, follow them 100 per cent. Don’t give up if they start to lose, don’t give up if they get relegated. There is sorrow in every defeat but it makes the sweetness and joy of a victory all that much greater when they come!
So those are my rules and I’m sticking to them. Hopefully as more Americans start following the English Premier League they’ll follow my rules and find Sunderland tugging at their hearts.