Look, I get it. Sponsors are important. Clubs aren't charities. That's why Toyota is across the front of our shirt and Republic Bank is on LCFC's sleeve. Without these partnerships there wouldn't be an FC Cincinnati or Louisville City FC. They pay the bills. That seemed to be the excuse given to the Coopers for the egregious branding of an organic supporters' initiative. Even worse, based on the Coopers' president's statement, the club suggested they need to lie down and accept it (my words). Like I said, there is a line. And LCFC leapt over it with a running start. They took something that was created, organized, and executed by passionate fans and sold it off without permission. I'd be pissed too. Not everything is for sale.
And don't you think for a second that it couldn't happen here. Again, we have a very good relationship with the FO. Carl, Jeff, et al are incredibly nice people...and incredibly smart businessmen. They have made no secret of their intentions to get to MLS. MLS costs money. Sponsors = money. And sponsors love to be seen. SGs are very visible in the matchday experience. See where I'm going with this?
I thought about this a lot on Saturday as I looked up at the Bailey. I thought about everything Die Innenstadt has done, what every SG has done, to create the atmosphere at Nippert. It’s you that make the match. Your marching, chanting, yelling, cheering, tifo painting, flag waiving, etc. And for a club to take that energy and auction it off, to me, seems unconscionable.
Now, I'm confident FCC would never attempt to brand our march or rename the Bailey as the "PNC Power Zone" (if they do that, I want a cut), but the point is that it could. Because Louisville did, and I'm willing to bet before last week the Coopers would have thought the same thing. To be fair, it appears the FO has reached out to the Coopers with a view to make things right. But the damage has been done.
So yes, we’re going to give them s**t for it, particularly because of all the 'plastic' talk directed our way last season. There will be chants, social media banter, maybe a 2-pole or sign. But truthfully, I do feel for them. The club did them dirty. They sold something they had no rights to. Sure we're rivals, but we're all supporters. We love our cities, and we love our clubs. Come Saturday we'll loudly express our dislike for the team that plays on a baseball field (didn’t forget after all), taunt the 30 or so traveling fans, and then invite them back to Mecklenburg's for a liter. I suggest you join us.
Don't forget to order your DI t-shirts for the "blackout" match.