Often Partisan

Village Turnout

Last night saw the “Big City Event”, aka the “End-of-the-season awards” for Birmingham City held at the NIA in town. I’ve seen a lot of cynicism online about how the event would pan out; indeed, I myself wondered just how many others would pay for the privilege of watching a bunch of posh nobs quaff champagne whilst the awards were announced – particularly after Sunday’s performance against Fulham.

The truth is, before the event I didn’t really have much idea what to expect. I’d heard that not many tickets had been sold in the “cheap seats”, and the truth was that there were no more than about four hundred hardy souls in the seats surrounding the arena. That being said, I don’t think it particularly took away from proceedings – they were always going to be about the tables on the arena floor itself, and they were sold out – a hundred tables absolutely chock-a-block with people willing to pay a ton (plus VAT) a throw to be able to sip champagne in touching distance of the players.

It’s like any new idea – some go well, some tank. I think the club probably got the pricing structure wrong – a tenner a throw to all rather than a score a head for season ticket holders and more for the rest would probably have been a better price point. There were difficulties in obtaining the tickets; the Ticket Office told one friend that he had to buy from the Commercial department, who then took four days to return a call. Add to that the despondency from the result at the weekend and the very real possibility that Blues could be relegated, and you can understand why so few people turned up.

However, that doesn’t mean the club shouldn’t have tried. Commercially, the night was probably a success – purely from the tables sold. From the top of my head, I can’t think of too many more venues where so many tables could have been accommodated in addition to a bar and a stage. The seats at the NIA were an additional bonus to the ground-plan, and it was an audacious idea to try and get “ordinary fans” to turn up to see some of the glitz. With a better marketing strategy, and maybe little one-offs like giving a voucher on entry to all the people in the “cheap seats” to get a drink to toast the team… well, it could be better.

The event as itself was much of a muchness. It’s obvious that players dread these things; for instance rather than make them give speeches there were pieces on the big screen from the AV team to go with each award. There were no real surprises as to who won each award; I was disappointed that there was no “clubman of the season” award, and I think the whole Carling Cup Final was just overplayed – maybe to make up for the lack of highlights elsewhere in the season.

As expected, McLeish gave a speech about how the players were going to be up for the Spurs match, which was met with some applause; however the speech given by “supporter of the year” Bob Teagle was much more warmly received. I did fear the worst when he unfolded the bit of paper and pushed Tom Ross aside, but to give credit he was sensible in what he said, and probably made clear what most fans are thinking – that the players owe us one massive performance next week, that they can do it and that they must do it.

All in all, it was alright. It wasn’t brilliant, but I think the club should be applauded for trying to do something to reach out to the common fan. I know a lot of Blues fans are jaded and cynical – and to an extent, I can agree with them. This season hasn’t been fun. However, it would have been nicer if the “Big City Event” had had more than a village turnout – and maybe next season we’ll have enough to celebrate to make that happen.

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4 Responses to “Village Turnout”

  • Barking says:

    If a civic reception after the Carling Cup final was considered to be too much of a distraction how can this shindig be a good idea less than a week before a crucial relegation game?

    • almajir says:

      I’m told (and I can’t say for sure that this is true, except I trust the person who told me) that the players are not contracted to do anything for the club commercially between the last game of the season and the first day of pre-season training. Thus the timing of the end-of-season shindig will always be the same. It’s traditional for teams to do it; I wouldn’t be happy with rumours of players going out on a bender but that’s for Eck to sort out.

  • tony says:

    Being one of the cynical brigade i declined to buy a ticket for the cheap seats ! it just seemed that we were only included to help pay for the evening and i for one don’t feel that anyone deserved an award for the garbage we’ve had to endure this season.

  • […] One thing that did disappoint me about the Big City Event on Monday night that I didn’t mention previously was that there wasn’t an award for “Clubman of the Year”. It’s not that […]

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