27 February, 2009

Sit Down. Shut Up.

The football world is going increasingly mad. When you go to a game these days you can’t stand up, you can’t drink, you can’t smoke, and now apparently at Middlesbrough, you can’t actually make any noise. At Saturday’s bore draw with Wigan, supporters of the free-falling team were handed out letters telling them to only cheer when the team scores. Seriously. Consider then that Boro have failed to net in more than eight hours at the Riverside, which would obviously render the stadium all the atmosphere of a morgue, or worse still, The Emirates.

The circulated note (uncovered by our good friends over at The Spoiler - click above to enlarge), was sent from safety officer Sue Watson, also asked fans not to stand up too much during games: “I am receiving more and more complaints from our own fans about both the persistent standing and the constant banging and noise coming from the back of this stand. Please stop. Make as much noise as you like when we score, but this constant noise is driving some fans mad.” Stunned supporters couldn’t believe it when the letter was dished out at the Riverside Stadium before Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Wigan. The written request was given out by stewards to fans in the stadium’s South East corner, where many specifically moved last season to create a singing area.

Furious fans have since set up a Facebook group calling for Watson to quit, with one fan intoning: “The letter’s an utter disgrace. The anger and resentment it’s caused shows what a PR disaster it is.” Another supporter told journalistic juggernaut the North East Gazette: “Are they going to give us prompt cards to tell us when we can sing and when we can’t? You would think that given our current league position, the club would be wanting us to help rally the team and get behind them. This is a working class sport and it’s a passionate sport. When we were at Ayresome Park, if you weren’t at the game you used to be able to hear the crowd from the town centre. We need to bring back the Riverside Roar!”

Despite this, last night Boro’s chief operating officer Neil Bausor maintained that the club did still “encourage passionate and noisy support,” adding: “we understand the strength of feeling on this issue and we accept the letter could easily have been misunderstood. We apologise to any supporters who have therefore been understandably annoyed.”

This anti-atmosphere campaign comes just months after the Premier League’s most famous fan, Mr Portsmouth FC, was told to stop singing so much and ringing his bell at Fratton Park because it was disrupting other fans’ enjoyment of the game. Whatever next? A coffee ban in Starbucks? A nudity ban in Browns??!!

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