Barnsley FC has been enveloped in a cloak of silence this week, arguably at a time when the Championship club could have used the opportunity to communicate better with some pretty disgruntled fans, writes Neil Goulding.
After their worst start to a league season for nearly 50 years, many Reds fans want to know how the club are going to improve having been rooted to the foot of the table for much of this season.
Five points from a possible 33 tells it’s own bleak story, not to mention the 27 goals which have been leaked in the league.
And then there’s the worrying statistic that the club have not won away from home for seven months, a run of 15 away matches without a win.
But instead of using the media to educate their supporters on what the club are doing to put things right, manager David Flitcroft and all of his players suddenly became off-limits as interview requests were organised and then cancelled at the last minute.
The club’s attitude had softened slightly towards by Thursday afternoon, but by then it was too late for many media deadlines.
And for a local media man who works to give the club positive publicity I’ve got to admit I find it baffling that the Oakwell ‘siege mentality’ approach is beneficial to anyone at the club.
It certainly doesn’t help the media and it doesn’t give the fans any insight to what’s really happening at Oakwell. It’s not the first time I’ve encountered this attitude. I’ve seen it in other sports and, most commonly, when a manager or coach is under pressure.
When everything is going well and the results are coming, managers are usually only too happy to talk and it’s never a problem to get a player interview.
But as soon as the pressure increases the mentality, in my experience, changes. Suddenly players are not available after matches and manager’s response can be frosty – or irrelevant – at the best of times. However, the simple facts are that Barnsley have struggled badly this season.
A couple of victories would be a huge help to the Reds, initially to hopefully lift them out of the bottom three.
But regardless of results I believe the club have an obligation – and a duty - to engage with their supporters through the media. After all these are the supporters who pay good money to keep the club in business.