The thin line between offside and progressive views.
By: Nicholas Page-Philander
It has been a full week since ‘Shooz’Mekuto was announced as the Ajax Cape Town Supporter Liaison Officer.
Some say this appointment was in response to the Cape Town Wannabes, but the gullible optimist in me believes the appointment is due to the CEO adhering to the plea from supporters.
My personal feeling of staff returning to Ajax CT is well documented among supporters, if you find greener pastures elsewhere remain there when you find out its fake grass, but I believe he is the right man at the right time. He knows the structures, the mode of operation and most importantly he knows the fans and we can relate to him.
In the wake of this announcement we should look back and see what he has achieved in the past. He managed to tap into areas which were not previously regarded as Ajax supporters and helped to setup branches. In his tenure he managed to get the team closer to the people, through fulfilling their social responsibilities. Under his stewardship fans were able to watch away matches at Ikamva and it truly nurtured a sense of belonging among fans.
In his previous position he was the Public Relations Officer (P.R.O) and if he excelled in this position is debatable. His new role as Supporter Liaison Officer is a position introduced by UEFA as a licencing requirement for all professional European clubs under Article 35 of the 2010 UEFA Club Licencing and Financial Fair Play Regulation. A key objective of this office is to bridge the gap between fans and clubs in order to achieve transparency and improved communications between the parties involved.
In my opinion a club should be able to do business with discretion and have meetings behind closed doors. However, supporters can agree that there are too many closed doors at our beloved club. It is so difficult to talk about Ajax because there is so little news being filtered down. The drop of news that do filter down from the well of information in Ajax boardrooms are so diluted that even ‘true supporters’ (supporters since 1999) are unable to discern between the truth and the opportunistic sensationalism of the media (propaganda machines).
I for one expected Mr Mekuto to hit the ground running especially since we are at a time of war. Cape Town already know more of Cape Town Wannabes then what the know of the Cape Town giants and this is purely because they make their plans public on every radio and tv station willing to host them. What have we heard or seen from Mr Mekuto? …Not even a Ajax related tweet. I hope that Mr Mekuto have used this week to plan his assault because if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. However, planning without implementation is a disaster and a waste of money we could have used to buy same protein shakes for our academy. If Mr Mekuto take any longer to engage with fans he might as well just become the media liaison. Further, which fans is Mr Mekuto consulting? How relevant are they? Has he even consulted fans yet?
This leaves us with the question… what should Mr Mekuto do to be successful? Well, his success from a fan perspective (I don’t know the criteria Ajax CT will use) will be based on the number of supporters at home games (even away) and how informed they are about their team.
How will he achieve it?
1. Ensure there is a branch at every suburb from which a player comes from (at least). It must be sad for a player to go home and be surrounded by fans of foreign teams.
2. Create a platform where fans from various suburbs can congregate and speak about Ajax and hear their players and CEO talking about the team. At such a platform we will be able to give the coach and warriors a mandate for the season. We saw the hunger for such a platform with the initial DiskiNights.
3. Packages for season ticket holders should improve. Season ticket holders are your guaranteed bums on seats. Look after them and make it enticing to buy a season ticket.
4. Supporter cards should be reintroduced. Supporter cards should be your mechanism to enter the stadium. This way you can identify your loyal supports and reward them and identify those who have neglected their duties and encourage them. Supporter cards are also a huge token of appreciation which encourages that important sense of belonging.
5. Identify the areas where you have supporters, but due to lack of public transport to matches they are not able to attend. These areas can only be tapped into if there is a organised branch. For such supporters a special package could be worked out that include their transport in their match ticket.
6. Ticket prices to matches are a huge concern since we pay higher prices than other PSL clubs. If it is true that the city dictate the ticket price it is understandable, but it will be very disheartening if CT wannabes have tickets at a lower price.
7. If or when we do play at the Graveyard (Athlone Stadium) move us back to where we belong… at the grandstand, behind the players so we can cheer our team on and get the bench warmed and hyped up before they take the field. Afford us the opportunity to give Mushin and Eric apiece of our mind because we won’t see them often. It is further very difficult to cheer your team on if you can’t see on the field due being blinded by the scorching Cape Town Sun.
8. Improve security when we play at the Graveyard. Many of the most ‘Die Hard’ supporters just collapse at home when they hear the match is at the Graveyard. The fear of your car being stolen or of you being mugged on your way to the gate is overwhelming.
9. The reintroduction of Ajax CT TV will really assist in informing the fans of what is happening behind the scenes and in the boardrooms. With weekly inserts from the CEO and Coach.
10. Improve the stadium experience. Match day booklets to the first 1000 fans to enter the stadium. A new Ajax song to announce the new era of Ajax Cape Town. Have a weekly competition to choose the song of the week that will be played as the players enter the field and announce it 3days before match day in order for fans to become acquainted with the song. Half time entertainment by local artist.
We as fans are grateful for this channel of communication that is availed to us to be able to communicate with the club better and eradicate embracement of fans washing Ajax laundry in public in order to be heard. The above is my 10 pointers to Mr Mekuto to be successful.
What suggestions would you add to the list?
E-mail us your views on AjaxCTfansMail@gmail.com your inputs will be appreciated. Keep the flag arm strong… Ahoo!