There is a well known saying that “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family”. That should resonate long and hard with the true football fans across the land. To the majority, their chosen team is less a football club and more a family. The trials and tribulations, season after season can mirror the ups and downs of family life, and test bonds to the limit.
If we take that as a starting point for the situation at West Bromwich Albion presently, then the club find themselves in a very difficult place.
Like it or not, Nicolas Anelka became a “member” of the West Brom family when he committed himself to the club, and as such, however right or wrong his actions, he should expect a certain level of support from his new relatives.
Now at this point I would like to stress that there is absolutely no believable or credible excuse for what he inexplicably did, and having being charged by the FA today for his actions, he will probably receive the sanctions he undoubtedly deserves. Anti semitism is a cancer that, if left unchecked will infect silently and relentlessly. It cannot be allowed to surface at any point, and needs to be eradicated at its’ first appearance.
I believe that every fair minded Baggie would expect him to be punished for his actions, and accept any decision that the FA impose gracefully.
If that was the end of the story, then this would not be as big an issue has it has become. But it’s not, and this is where some strong decisions need to be made, and stood by otherwise the repercussions for the professional game globally could be huge.
Having built themselves an extremely successful business in a very competitive industry, the hierarchy at Zoopla decided they wanted a slice of the exposure that the most lucrative football league on the planet could offer. Fair enough. Good business sense, as if the figures are to be believed, they allegedly pay something in the region of £3 million pounds to get their brand in front of millions. Having some knowledge of the advertising industry, I can confidently say that the cost in other media for this, over the same period would dwarf that amount, so they have been getting a very good return on their investment.
At this juncture I think it is important to be clear on what there investment actually is. It is SPONSORSHIP, pure and simple. It does NOT buy them a place on the board, it does NOT allow input into decision making, and it absolutely does NOT give them the right to start dictating whose personal beliefs are a good fit for their conscience, and demand the team picked reflect that. It is only an allegation that they tried to influence team selection, but if it is true, West Brom are absolutely correct not to bow to the pressure however odious Anelkas actions.
Outside influences, made stronger by financial investment in to the game, have already eroded a great deal of what football fans hold dear. Many things come to mind, including kick off times dictated by TV, the erosion of the importance of the FA Cup by the need to retain Premiership status etc. etc etc.
Anelka will be judged and hopefully dealt with in such a way to ensure that such sympathies do not surface again.
West Brom will get another sponsor, so they MUST stand by their convictions and make their own decision, without pressure from any financial benefactor.