We can't let Twitter and Facebook run our football clubs
Leyton Orient chief executive Matt Porter explains why he avoids Twitter for 24 hours after a defeat
In the wake of Chelsea condemning Twitter abuse of midfielder John Obi Mikel, Leyton Orient chief executive Matt Porter says social networks can't be allowed to influence the way football clubs are run.
I’ve taught myself a lesson over the opening weeks of the season. It’s been invaluable and has really helped me enjoy my time away from work over the weekend.
I don’t look at my Twitter timeline for 24 hours after a defeat.
Now for those of you who haven’t been paying attention, our start to the season at Leyton Orient wasn’t quite what we’d hoped for. After KO’ing Charlton in the Capital One Cup, we lost our first three league games and were taught a lesson by Everton in the second round of said cup, although there’s no shame in that of course.
And it all led to a barrage of what I’ll politely call 'helpful advice' from some of our supporters, who demanded that everyone from the chairman to the tea lady via, of course, the manager, was chopped with immediate effect.
"Every defeat needs to have an explanation, a full scale inquest. The jury share notes on Twitter and decide who is guilty."
The problem is that 10, even five years ago, when the final whistle blew with your team on the wrong end, you voiced your opinion to the people around you then trudged along home or to the pub and whether you let it ruin your weekend or not there were soon other distractions.
By the time the next weekend came, it was a fresh start. The players were allowed to get on with their jobs on the pitch and judged by how they performed that day.
However now, you can let the world know, and in our case, myself, our vice chairman and at least two-thirds of our first team squad, exactly what you thought of the match/your pie/the programme/the cheerleaders/whatever else you like, directly and without censorship.
Every defeat needs to have an explanation, a full scale inquest. The jury share notes on Twitter and decide who is guilty, which fall guy needs to be removed from the set-up.
Often it seems like a competition for who can vent their frustration in the strongest possible fashion.
Of course we conduct our own analysis of each game, working out in minute detail what went wrong and spending hours working out the remedies. But rarely is it as simple as picking our a single player or a particular tactic that was to blame.
"Twitter and Facebook have brought real challenges to football clubs, particularly with regard to managing expectations."
Sometimes, also, losing is just unlucky.
Patience is an ingredient that was always rare in football, but those clubs willing to persist are usually rewarded. Players who have a shaky start will often blossom given the confidence that their entire future does not depend on the next 85 minutes.
Managers, too, need to experiment without fear that if their efforts don't come off first game they will be looking for a new workplace. Twitter, and Facebook have brought real challenges to football clubs, particularly with regard to managing expectations.
That said, the internet and social networks have had huge benefits for our club. I, and the players, love to be able to engage quickly with fans and it can be quite refreshing that there’s enough passion flying around for anyone to bother taking the time to express their opinion to me.
And when you're doing well of course, you can magnify your successes. So long live Twitter and Facebook but let's not them run our football clubs.
Matt Porter has donated his fee for this article to Prostate Cancer UK, the official charity of the Football League.
Matt Porter is chief executive of Leyton Orient, you can find him on Twitter @mattporter_lofc
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