This season certainly feels like the crossroads of Barnet FC in more ways than one. Only last week in a different article I wrote about Bees manager Darren Currie finding himself at those crossroads regarding the investment in his squad for the remainder of the campaign. And going on recent developments over the past ten days or so Currie should have the re-inforcements he needs on the pitch to push on for the play-offs.
Off the pitch however, it’s hard to deny there is a definite rift opening up between the club and it’s supporters. The Hive itself was built and designed to bridge the ever widening gap of money in the game to allow the Bees to compete on an even or better keel than it’s rivals and while it’s been bringing in much needed income for the club it doesn’t appear the football side of things is the number one priority.
The pitch is suffering from having three teams playing on it over the course of this season and often with two games a weekend, coupled with the wettest winter the country has seen for years gives you a pitch that is not conclusive for playing Currieball. The amount of postponements so far is well in front of others at this level and while cup runs created a fixture pile up last season, the state of the pitch is doing its best to match that this season.
Off the pitch there is a prickly indifference between the club and those in the stands. This season has seen an alarming decline in people coming through the gates to support the team. There has been a gradual decline since the move from Underhill nearly seven years ago, many feeling the club will never return to the borough of Barnet despite the move to play at The Hive a temporary one until a new ground is sought, this is after all the training complex but that return seems a long long way in the distance.
Ticket prices are amongst the highest in the National League for both home and away supporters which is not encouraging the maybes or maybe-nots to come to a game, and unhappiness over the lack of quality within the squad. Those prices would suggest the budget would be producing a decent performance on the pitch and as such was promised two years ago only for the club to end up being relegated back into non-league football. The club will point to various marketing ideas they’ve implemented but there is no visual rise in attendances, a winning team I know does swell the stands and there has been little of that since promotion five years ago.
When you bear in mind what has happened to Bury and knowing there are other clubs in danger of going the same way, there is where the crossroads come in again. Whilst you can applaud the chairman for running a tight ship and there is little evidence of the club holding any debt or very little, it’s not likely to go the same way as others due to that very fact. Money has been invested back into the team from cup runs and player sales, albeit just not very wisely.
I don’t disagree that over the past few years money has been squandered instead of invested correctly in the team, Kleanthous has to shoulder that one as the buck stops with him appointing a head coach or manager but that can’t be to the detriment of the club moving forward. His legacy will be the complex he has built for the club to last well into this century and probably beyond, but a club at this level is nothing without it’s paying public.
But whilst that part is the plus point there are many negatives that go against that one point. A lack of understanding and at times communication has led to a breakdown between the two sides, in an age where social media can report things within minutes and club communication can also be released as quickly sometimes its silence can be deafening.
I’m not suggesting for one minute that Tony Kleanthous should be Andy Holt nor Darren Currie on Twitter, it doesn’t have to be that open but it does need to be more forthcoming. I am well aware there are some things that can’t be disclosed or not until the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted and it might only be a small thing but it matters to a lot. There has to be a way to better engage with its supporters, its either that or the club will start setting records weekly for the lowest attendance watching National League games.