Alan Biggs' Sheffield Wednesday Column: Yes, mistakes have been made'¦Â but Dejphon Chansiri at least shows he cares by fronting up at fans' forum

Some will be reading this online before the Sheffield Wednesday fans forum, some in the paper afterwards. Hopefully this plea for unity applies for both audiences.

Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 9:54 am
Updated Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 10:03 am
Sheffield Wednesday manager Jos Luhukay (left) with Owls Chairman/Owner Dejphon Chansiri....Pic Steve Ellis

It's written ahead of what could have been an event approaching match day proportions at even some professional levels of the game. More than 1,000 Owls fans were prepared to pack an entertainments venue this Thursday, only for the forum to be rescheduled back to Hillsborough over public order concerns. The club could have hired Sheffield Arena and still stood a chance of filling it for an evening with the club's chairman, Dejphon Chansiri. Not exactly for reasons of seasonal goodwill.  But, when you think about it, there is actually some good cheer to be found in this. And not only that derived from humorous satirical asides that the Owls owner might just have been embarking on a nationwide tour. It is simply about this. Caring. Caring for your football club. That so many Wednesday fans clearly do is evident in the numbers prepared to turn out  to challenge the running of their club. That the owner was prepared to stand in front of all-comers at a bleak time in the club's affairs - and will still face as many as possible - shows he cares, too. Then again, it can't be just a box-ticking 'I've faced up and listened' exercise on his part. This is not an audience easily pacified; some criticisms are valid or the club would not be in its current plight. I think, from here, it will need proof of really listening, as in recognising that some well-meaning advice - not necessarily all - could have spared the club some suffering had it been heeded earlier. There is no shame or loss of face in learning. How would any of us have fared at the head of a club in Thailand?  Caring, on both sides, is the key to bringing body and soul together. A realisation that this exists - from both parties - is a far better starting point than a prediction of bloody infighting. Of all the criticisms hurled at the club, the one I thought did most damage and went to the heart of everything had nothing to do with a poor league position, the unpopularity of the manager, losing matches and the cost of attending games. Any club can lose on a regular, cyclical basis, just as they can win. Most adult Wednesdayites can remember the latter even as they suffer the former. It is part of being a supporter. But when fans allege that their club has 'lost its soul' or that they have 'lost their club' then that is a different matter entirely. A far more serious one. Supporters need to feel that connection in good times and bad. It's in a spirit of reconnection that most stood to be gained from the Wednesday night forum. Key questions about the club's operation were an absolute must - as rightly and comprehensively suggested by the Sheffield Star's Dom Howson last week. But not in the search for a scapegoat. It's human nature to want someone or something to blame. The truth is it's nearly always a combination; not one of either. The owner invested lavishly on winning promotion, the former manager danced to that tune. Together, they came so close. There is often a price to pay. This season and last, everyone connected with the club, not least the supporters, has been paying it. Poor recruitment, expensive over-stocking of the squad, has been the avoidable part and where lessons can be learned. But there is more to be gained than greater understanding of the club's operation. For one, an understanding of the other's point of view, whether that be disagreement between supporters or criticism of the chairman. For another, a degree of decorum in the way these arguments are expressed. Hopefully no abuse on one side or any high-handed attempt to talk down the audience on the other. These, after all, have much in common as parties investing in the club - either hugely in financial terms or massively in loyalty (and hard-earned cash) over many years. So where this gathering had most to achieve was in reconnecting those two forces as the soul of the club. And moving forward in one direction rather than apart. It can still be pretty unstoppable if it does.

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