Some football teams wear pink, get over it

The conventional thinking on Merseyside is that when Everton brought out the salmon away shirt a number of years ago it had a single purpose: to make supporters buy the home strip. By creating something that no one would want the salmon strip gained a kind of cult appeal, but the blue sold more.

Nike showed off a Bradford City away strip of a similar colour alongside a claret and amber striped home shirt and perhaps that a similar agenda might be at play. Football clubs have lost control of what supporters consider to be “the shirt” and the fact that the Bantams home shirt is distinctive and rare in the world of football heightens that problem. Wearing anything claret and amber to a game and you are wearing “the shirt” regardless of what is the current vogue.

The away shirt though is pink and the colour pink – although not this shade of it – has connotations. Pink is feminine – it will be interesting to see if the away shirt gets a significant uptake from female fans – but when worn by men it is gay. We have the Nazi to thank for starting this connotation – Jews were given yellow stars, Romany given black triangles, and homosexuals pink triangles – but the gay rights movement reclaimed the connection.

Others do not though and it is interesting – if somewhat depressing – reading comments flying around about the new garb how easily the connotation between gay (or female) and pink is drawn and how quickly that becomes negative.

“Look like girls play like girls” is one side of a line, “It could be an ‘Away Gay Day'” is simple homophobia. In the space of four months we have gone from the players not being fit to wear the shirt to the idea that shirt not being fit for the players.

Then others go much further suggesting that the players might be embarrassed to wear the away kit, perhaps even refuse to play in it, and that any supporter buying it should “take a serious look at themselves.”

Another has suggested that the pink will cause trouble at grounds. That away fans – their sexuality questioned by home supporters – will respond with fists and that the fact that eleven men are wearing bright pink will bring violence. I wish I were making up the fact that people would present such a spurious justification for violence but sadly I am not.

Sometimes football is embarrassingly anchored in a different era, other times it is dangerously so. Anyone verbalising such thoughts might be correct, but then again the same could have been said in September 1970.

Players would be embarrassed to play alongside Ces Podd who made his début that month, some would refuse to play with a black man. Perhaps people said that anyone supporting a black player needed to “take a serious look at themselves” and perhaps there was the suggestion then that it would bring violence as one set of fans felt the need to fight to empathise their right to hold onto petty, poisonous bigotry.

Footballers like Podd – and supporters who would not allow those bigotries to be justified – challenged the way that supporters thought and changed it. It was football being an instrument of social change – eventually – and it is something that should be and will be celebrated.

City have already played their first gay player but that player – and the other who followed him, and the others at every other club – decided that he would keep that to themselves. Football has an environment which suggests that gay players should keep themselves in the closest and the reaction to things like City’s pink away kit highlight the reasons for that.

In the end Ces Podd was just another footballer, this is just another away kit, and the next gay player to play for City is just another player. Consider it this way and football gets to that instrument for social change via acceptance and something other than 22 men kicking a bit of leather around the field.

Lawn returns to Accrington and revisits the idea of putting Bradford City into administration

The last time Mark Lawn went to Accrington Stanley he left with his car vandalised and spent the weekend threatening to wind Bradford City up by withdrawing the loan he has made to the club. This time as Lawn heads for the Crown Ground he talks about moving City away from Valley Parade.

Speaking to the T&A Lawn confirmed what BfB reported yesterday that the club had opened talks with the Football League about what they were calling a last-ditch scenario of leaving VP to move to Odsal. One would assume that this would mean refusing to pay the Landlords of Valley Parade and the clubs offices and being open to and expecting either to both to pursue the club for being in breach leading to the club seeking a third spell in administration for protection from the creditors.

The phrase “administration as a formality” has been used before at Valley Parade by Julian Rhodes in 2004 as he looked to et the club from Gordon Gibb who voted in the CVA for Bradford City to die rather than end up in the hands of his former boardroom rival. That time City came as close as can be to going out of business as could be imagined – Ashley Ward made the casting vote – so I treat the idea of a strategic administration with scepticism.

As should Julian Rhodes. My understanding of the Football League rules about who can and cannot be involved in running a football club have it that having been involved in “multiple insolvency” evenings he would not be involved in the business of Bradford City 2011 in an official capacity.

He could buy a season ticket though – many of us have – but where that season ticket will see us sit is something which should what Mark Lawn is talking about come about will change. One wonders what consideration has been taken over this from Bradford City. Fans who are happy enough to go to Odsal might not be happy to move from seats they have occupied for over a decade and will but upset but there are supporters who do not want to go to Odsal and will be knocking on the door of Valley Parade demanding their money back.

How many of the Bradford City supporters who have season tickets now will still follow the club to Odsal? We might guess at a percentage and we might curse those who do not want to but unless someone has a figure as to how the impact of moving on supporters then should this move be considered? Has anyone at Valley Parade taken the temperature of supporters about moving from Valley Parade? Does anyone know what the supporters want?

What about the club’s business partners? Our understanding of the deal which sees Nike replace Surridge as the club’s shirt supplier will see Nike take over the club shop which is a part of the offices which City are talking about defaulting on the rent of. How secure is this deal? How transferable? Has the most iconic brand on the planet been told it will be backing a club with a level of support which no one – at the moment – could even have an educated guess at?

What about other businesses which have backed City? Are they going to be left out of pocket again by administration? Have they been warned?

Ross Hannah and Michael Rankine are non-league strikers rumoured to be in talks with City. Back in 2002 Nicky Law had agreed a deal to sign Thomas Hitzlsperger and – from Grimsby – Michael Boulding but those deals died in administration. If Hannah or Rankine were to pick up the T&A today what confidence could they have in those deals coming to fruition (let alone that the man they are talking to at the club will be there next season).

What about Mark Lawn’s loans? If City go into administration and then Lawn becomes a creditor. £2m worth of loans represents a significant vote for whatever is on the table in terms of a CVA but after a CVA has been accepted those loans are gone. Is Lawn prepared to write off the loan he considered withdrawing fifteen months ago as he drove away from Accrington?

One would love to suggest that Lawn is bluffing or that he is firing shots across Gordon Gibb’s bow to try get him to the negotiation table and see City emerge with the best deal but one cannot guarantee that. The club are talking to the Football League about how to make leaving Valley Parade work. It might not be the idea that you or I, dear reader, would have chosen but it seems to the the prevalent idea.