Don’t get it twisted.
I’m a die-hard, never-say-quit Manchester United fan. Have been since the day I was born (I think if my dad could have he would have named me Robson). But just this weekend was a bittersweet one. The victory over Aston Villa was fantastic. We reclaimed our rightful top spot and young Marcheda had a dream debut.
The bitterness was courtesy of a disturbing Tweet from @manutd_updates (aka @ollieparsley). You see, this chap had set up a free-of-charge Twitter match-update and news service for Manchester United matches (and a bunch of other Premier League teams).
It was great for 2,352 folks (like me) who can’t always get in front of a TV to watch the match live (owing to whatever circumstances). Just whip out the ol’ mobile, navigate to Twitter and get the latest info on the match. That is, until he got slapped with a “Cease & Desist” notice. It’s the legal equivalent of that snotty little kid who would challenge you to a game of football and then would grab his football and storm off home when things weren’t going his way, ruining the game for everyone (actually, the little bastard probably grew up to be a football team marketing manager).
And while I understand the deal with logos (trademarks and all that – even EA Sports needs to bend over for that one), the rest is a load of bollocks! Buy a licence to tell your mates about the game!? And what’s really sad is that the Premier League team marketing management machines seem to support this. Clearly, they haven’t caught up with new media thinking.
What these cretins don’t seem to understand is that the fans who aren’t at the match are lost to the bottom-line for that day’s marketing. They haven’t bought tickets. They’re not buying drinks from the vendors. So why should these fans who can’t make it to the game or watch it on TV (a service that those viewers have already paid for) be punished and miss out?
The teams’ marketing managers should strap on a pair, stand up and say: “It’s OK: let the fans blog about/tweet about/text about the games. At least, they’ll feel included. They’re not making any money out of it. And we’ll get free publicity out of it. Hell, invite a blogger/twitter-user/power-texter to the game and let him broadcast from the changing room! We’d be legends!”
But we know that won’t happen. Instead they’ll try to shut it down because they don’t understand it. They’re ignorant, terrified little people with no vision and no comprehension. We won’t miss them when they’re gone. And they can take their damned ball with them too.