Friendly Fire

This week Paul Balm gives his opinion on the Season Ticket fiasco coming out of Panthers pre-season challenge games against Italian side Asiago.

So Asiago are coming to town and I bet they had no idea what an uproar it would cause when they agreed to make the journey over here. You can’t lay the blame for the furore at the Italians’ door though, the cause lies a lot closer to home.

For those that don’t know what’s been happening here are the facts: Panthers stated earlier in the year that the Challenge Cup quarter final game (or the Play-Off quarter final game should they not qualify for the CC) would be on the season ticket. This has now changed and the quarter final will be replaced by the first of the Asiago friendlies. This has understandably upset a lot of season ticket holders, some of whom have contacted the Panthers regarding this and have received what appears to be a fairly generic “like it or lump it” e-mail which hasn’t really helped matters.

I don’t really want to get into the reasoning behind the change of game on the season ticket, there must be a reason for it and I’m pretty sure that most of us can guess what it is. What I want to focus more on is the fact that it was done and why, I believe, it was a very bad idea.

I remember, in the dim distances of time, watching an episode of Eastenders where Pete Beale taught his spotty teenage son Ian (I said it was a long time ago) the golden rules of market trading as he began his first day on the family fruit and veg stall. I only remember one of them and that was “don’t rip off the regulars”, if you’re going to short-change anyone do it to a stranger, the slightly soft apples at the back? Give them to someone you’ve never seen before. Now, there are faults with that argument, new customers aren’t likely to come back if there cauliflower is rotten, but they might not have come back anyway but if the regular customer finds maggots in their cabbage that could well be a regular income lost.

You might not think the words of a fictional fruit and veg seller have much to do with running an ice hockey team but they’re both businesses and the same rules apply – you don’t upset your regular customers. Before I get into this too deeply it has to be said that all businesses (and Panthers are no different) see changes in their clientele for any number of reasons, we all know people who used to watch Panthers and don’t any more but a truly successful business will strive to retain their customers, especially the regular ones.

I’m not entirely sure that this happening at the Panthers. The whole Asiago season ticket fiasco has revealed what appears to be a very worrying disregard for their regular fans. It seems to show an attitude that they can do anything without a thought for how it will affect the people that pay their wages. That is a very dangerous attitude for a business to have. They may argue that crowds are stable or even improving and that shows that their business model is healthy, but is it? It may be now but they’re looking at a finite pool of customers and to believe that you can upset as many as you like as you can replace them is extremely short-sighted.

The other thing that troubles me is that the loyal fans, the fans that have been coming for years, are treated with such disdain. These are the fans that have Panthers in their blood and maybe the club aren’t worried about changing promises made to them because they think they’ll come back anyway. Who are replacing them if they don’t? Do they care as much as someone who saw their first game in 1980? They probably spend more in the concessions or on merchandise because it’s all new and exciting and they haven’t worked out they’re getting ripped off but do they truly care in the same way? OK, some of today’s casual fans are tomorrow’s diehards but you can’t continue with a revolving door policy when it comes to fans. They’re your customers and you have to listen to what they’re saying if you want to continue to thrive.

I’m afraid I can’t really see any change to the attitude that the Panthers display at any point in the future, they’ll continue to ride roughshod over those that complain. Take the new shirts (please). There’s been a heck of a lot of people saying that they’re pretty dreadful (including those who said how bad they were but they’d still buy them!). I’ve not done any maths but I’m pretty sure those that don’t like them far outweighed those that like them. I’ll also guarantee that at some point between now and the start of the season a press release from the Panthers will brag about how many people have contacted them to tell them how good the shirts are and where they can get hold of them. Now, they’re not going to turn around and say the shirts are bad but they don’t have to resort to the same staid cliches every single season.

Finally for this week, the Asiago announcement seems to have revealed a worrying lack of respect for friendlies amongst the Panthers fans. OK, the games were never going to be as important as a league or cup game but in a season that will see us play Sheffield and others at least 10 times I’m quite looking forward to a bit of variety. I tell you something though, I can see the Sunday game being played out in front of a pretty sparse audience.


5 Responses to “Friendly Fire”

  1. 1 jay stock July 20, 2012 at 12:56 am

    1. I do like the new white jersey altho I think the jersey choice shud be in fans hands or atleast as I assumed last season, 2. Customer satisfaction should be number 1 priorty whatever the situation (i wud be fuming if I missed a major game for a friendly). and off topic I believe the conference setup may hamper the smaller teams finances as I will only show up for big team games now instead of all home games.

  2. 2 Graham Lister July 20, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Does this Paul Balm actually exist? or is he just one of your alter egos Jono? You both churn out the same constant anti-Panthers jibes, picking on evry little negative and giving it the big I am because you think you would be so much better at running a club.

    You should try harder at getting some “real” additional writers with something to say instead of re-packaging your bile under a stupid name.

    At least writers like Greg Mitchell had something to say that was worth reading but you let him walk away when some idiots had a pop at him. You might not agree with what he said but it’s better than this mindless look at me I can do so much better pap that you’re grinding out now.

    Get is sorted Jono and if it’s what you actually think put your wn name to it.

    • 3 The Cat's Whiskers July 20, 2012 at 10:22 am

      I have to congratulate you Graham, I don’t think I’ve ever read a comment on here that is so far wide of the mark as yours!

      For your information Paul does very much exist, he’s one of my best friends and used to write in the old printed copy of The Cat’s Whiskers as well as ‘The Cool Cat’. I’d also like you to point out where I said I’d be so much better at running the club? I will point out when I think that poor business practices are in use, I will also support the club and management when I agree with them, and I have done many times in the past.

      There is an open offer for people to write articles for TCW and many ‘real’ people have in the past. Maybe you’d like to write one? All contributions are welcomed. As for Greg, I was gutted when he decided to call it a day. I did not let him ‘walk away’ as you so incorrectly assume, I tried to persuade him to carry on and have tried to get him to come back many times since but he doesn’t want to.

      I will also point out that I ALWAYS write articles in my own name and never use an alias. What would be the point? I’m no coward and will always speak my mind. Perhaps you could tell me what my supposed ‘alter ego’s’ are? I also have to ask you, if what I write is such ‘bile’ in your opinion, why do you read it?

      Normally I wouldn’t respond to what amounts to a personal attack, but the rubbish you’ve written above is so full of untruths I actually found it offensive. Maybe you should take some time to find out the facts before you comment in future.

      Jonathan Bullard

    • 4 Paul Balm July 20, 2012 at 10:25 am

      Do I exist? That’s something for the likes of Kirkegaard, not me.

      Am I a figment of Jono Bullard’s imagination? I hope not

      Is it so terrible that I agree with him? Sometimes. It’s hardly surprising though really. I agree with a huge number of people that Marmite tastes horrible it doesn’t mean that I’m the same person as them does it.

      As for the “anti-Panthers jibes” I wish I didn’t have to make them, not that I see them as either anti-Panthers or jibes. I’m merely writing about what I feel they are doing wrong, could I do better, probably not but at least I am willing to admit that I see something wrong.

      Jono will need to comment on getting other writers on board but I know this is something he has tried in the past. We might agree on things but I would say that I bring a very different view point to these pages. I’m not much good at talking about particular plays in a game, I’m hard-pressed to remember this goal or that check most of the time, what I try and do is look at the bigger picture for a topic to talk about that might not always get mentioned.

      Perhaps if you’d like to see a different name up there and one that has a different opinion you might like to try and give it a go yourself.


  3. 5 NothingGreatIsEasy July 24, 2012 at 1:30 am

    Well said sir. A great article

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