FANS LABELLED A DISGRACE
(Friday 20th September 2002)
Club Chairman Ivor Beeks and Manager Lawrie Sanchez have launched a bitter attack on Wanderers fans through the local press and this latest PR disaster could have long terms affects. Commenting after the 2-1 home defeat to Crewe, Beeks was quoted as saying "I thought our fans were a disgrace. You heard them booing when we went 1-0 up. What is that all about, booing your own team when they are winning? I can categorically tell them they are wasting their time. I will not be getting rid of the manager.".
Ironically Sanchez had been "not available for comment" on the club's official website following the game but was seemingly more than happy to say his piece to the press. Sanchez went as far as blaming the defeat to Crewe on the fans. He said "Those fans can take the credit for that result. Booing the team undermines their confidence and that's what happened. In the first 20 minutes we were excellent. We set the house on fire but it doesn't help when you are leading and some of your own fans are supporting the other side. I think the players felt let down. It's very unusual when a team is 1-0 up that the crowd start supporting the other side. I think that upset the players." However, the simple fact was that the any booing during the period when Wycombe were leading was from such a small section of the crowd as to make it either irrelevant or inaudible to most people at the game.
Sanchez went on to add "I think it is disgraceful to boo your own team when they are 1-0 up. In my 20 years in the game I have never known a situation like it. Some people have made their minds up about me and I'm not going to convince these people. They don't have to support me but they should support the team."
Beeks and Sanchez are no strangers to controversy with Wycombe followers. An outburst in November 1999 by Sanchez following a perceived low FA Cup gate saw him claim "This is not a football town. It would be busier if we had a supermarket here. I've given up on the crowd". Beeks backed up his Manager on the day by suggesting they may have to think about moving elsewhere. The views were later confirmed via an official press release that refused to rule out a move to Milton Keynes. It took the Club nearly a week to retract these 'off the cuff' statements but it's unlikely there will be any back down this time around with Sanchez retorting "I'm the manager. I've got a three-year contract here. I'm not going anywhere. If these people are booing the team when they go 1-0 up you've got to ask what are they doing here."
However, while it's easy to critisise those fans who go to the games, it should be the ones that are staying away that cause the most concern for the Club. Gates have already dropped by around 20% compared to last season and using the recently released financial statements, this would equate to a downturn of around £300,000 when projected over the course of the season.
If these comments are intended to have some sort of positive affect on the current situation then it shows just shows how out of touch those inside the Club have become to those people supporting the Club. Issuing Mission Statements and promises of improving communication mean little when there is little action to back up these shallow statements. The fact that this most recent diatribe was made in the same week when the Manager decided not to attend a Fans Forum, which was then subsquently cancelled because the Chief Executive had 'resigned', leaves a nasty taste in the mouth for many Wycombe supporters.
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