Promising to build a team to be proud of, as Firoz Kassam famously announced on our last night at The Manor, sounds a really generous thing to do.
Consider it a little further and it starts to sound self-indulgent, for what it says is that he will transact to us, using his wealth and power, a team for our enjoyment.
This fundamentally misunderstands being a fan; we don’t want to be given a team, we want to be part of a (extended) team. It’s a club, after all, clubs have members and we want to be members.
When it was revealed that Kelvin Thomas was at the controls of Oxford’s official Twitter feed during our 2-0 win against Mass United it was great. Here was the chairman of the club chatting with fans, in-game, about the game as an equal. It was warm and opinionated (his nan could have scored a chance that Dean Smalley spurned from five yards) and not at all corporate. Firoz Kassam once sat with the fans in the Oxford Mail stand, but that was to find out what the catering services were like.
John Lewis is known for its high levels of staff retention and dedication. Central to this is the limit they place on the difference between the highest and lowest paid staff members. The whole organisation is drawn closer together because they legislate against an ‘us and them’ culture.
The gap between the chairman and the fans (and therefore, the players and manager) is shrinking all the time. Thomas is not imparting his genius unto us mere mortals. He’s just a bloke doing the role he’s paid to do, and as part of the deal, we’ll do the job we’re expected to do. As a result there’s no ‘us and them’ (or us and him), there’s just ‘us’. A proper football club.