If there were any remaining football supporters naive enough to think their clubs give a singular toss about them or their community, Bolton chairman Phil Gartside has kindly shown them the light.
The whimpering, spineless statement that he issued after abandoning the club’s sponsorship deal with legal loan shark QuickQuid was so contemptuous you wonder why he bothered saying anything at all.
“We don’t want our commercial relationships to come between us and our community,” he whined, editing out the part at the initial meeting with QuickQuid when he added ‘but hey, this will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams, and poor people can go and f*** themselves’ before lighting up a box of Cuba’s finest and throwing wads of cash in the air and giggling like a schoolgirl.
Moving on from telling a lie so brazen and arrogant it would make Lance Armstrong stand up and applaud, Gartside decided to up the comedy factor.
“Whilst we anticipated some negative responses from the initial agreement, we underestimated the adverse reaction to the sector of business in which the sponsor operated. We undertook significant research into QuickQuid and were satisfied that they were a regulated and responsible lender.”
Whilst it’s unclear what “significant research” means, other than squinting at the smallprint on the TV advert, what the statement clearly says is that the suits knew that Bolton supporters, football supporters and anyone with a soul would be somewhat miffed at the fact that their club was quite willing to enter into a lucrative sponsorship deal with a company who charge sickening rates of APR to vulnerable, cash-strapped people with nowhere to turn.
“We now realise that entering into a deal with QuickQuid was a mistake and we ask that Bolton supporters, who have been through enough with the whole Gary Megson thing, forgive us for this cynical attempt at lining our pockets. We will now slither up the executive suite stairs in our top hats and endeavour to find an alternative means of sponsorship which does not actively seek to exploit poor people.”
Well, no. Actually, after announcing that the club’s new sponsors would be Fibrlec, it said: “We are proud that our club will be working closely with a local community technology company that has grown from the University of Bolton.”
In all seriousness, Bolton fans should not forgive this. It has been a shameful and deeply depressing episode that only serves as a reminder that those who control football have such contempt for those who follow it they are not even willing to apologise for such a vicious and cynical insult.
Football was born from the people who QuickQuid and Wonga, who still sponsor Newcastle Utd, grab by the heart and drag into their nightmarish world of 4214% and cuddly OAP puppets.
Bolton supporters won this battle. The war, though, is deeply one-sided and looks impossible to win.