Off and Running + A Valuable Lesson About Value Haircut Sponsors

Photo credit: Linsinnati

Photo credit: Linsinnati

Word's by DI member and Bailey drummer Bob Brumberg (brought to you by SuperCuts)

And we're off.

Hot damn it felt good to be back at Nippert. I'm not sure FC Cincinnati's home opener could have gone any better (tifo deployment aside (loved the enthusiasm, but let's wait till AFTER the national anthem next time)). On the heels of Djiby's 4-goal performance, the Orange and Blue cut St. Louis in half and thrilled the 23,000+ at Nippert. It may have been the best atmosphere I've experienced in the Bailey. In addition to Djiby's record night, FCC began a 3-game homestand against a trio of the top teams in the USL by giving St. Louis their first loss of the season. Tip of the cap to the traveling St. Louligans for making the journey and keeping their voice until the end.

So that brings us to Louisville week. The Kentuckyiana Chevy Dealers GE Appliances Louisville CIty Football Club presented by Humana travel up I-71 to face the Toyota Knifey Soccer Lion Kings of Cincinnati. Ronny will be along shortly to give you his Toyota Camry Keys to the Game. More on Loisville in a minute.

Before the thousands of.....i mean couple hundred of...let's just be realistic here...

Before the couple dozen Purple Army of Halloween characters invade Nippert Saturday, the Tampa Bay Lemon-Limes that play in St. Petersburg come to town in another Eastern Conference showdown. Sadly, this mid-week matchup won’t get the attention it deserves because of the pending Dirty River Derby and the fact it’s mid-week. But Wednesday's tilt has fairly big implications on the table (and $2 beers). FCC can move into a tie for 3rd with a win and set up a battle for 1st on Saturday. New to the USL this season, TampaSt.PeteBay brings former Chelsea star Joe Cole with them along with a 3-1-0 record. Suffering their first loss at the hands of LouCity's dominant pitching and base-running, the Rowdies will certainly look to rebound Wednesday. Let's bring the same atmosphere to the Bailey that we saw Saturday.

But I really came here to write about our friends down the river. This last week has been pretty eventful for LCFC's main supporter's group The Coopers. Because on Thursday, this happened: 

 

Wow. Jackpot. Some jokes write themselves.

This might even make us forget they play on a baseball field (eh, probably not).

 Here are the bullet points as I understand them (Coopers released a statement here):

·         Coopers started a march to the match, similar to what our SGs do

·         Corporate marketing stooges see march, get idea, pitch to club FO

·         Club FO approaches Coopers with idea, possible video paid by shoddy haircut place

·         Coopers lay ground rules (no branding the march, etc)

·         Video released with 'Discount Haircut Place March to the Match' branding

·         Meltdown

I could feel the Cincy faithful licking their lips at this gift that was dropped into our lap. But let's take a step back shall we?

I think we can all agree that Supporters’ Groups play a substantial role in the matchday experience. And one of the reasons is the independent nature of SGs. It’s safe to say we have a good relationship with FCC's front office, and from the very beginning they have been open with communication and willing to work with the SGs. The Coopers can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe they would have shared similar feelings about their own FO up until Thursday.

We have to remember that the FO is in the business to make money.  But there is a line. Sure, they use videos of us in their commercials and pictures of us on their website (so does the league). All those flags, scarves, and smoke make for a compelling sales pitch right? By and large we're cool with that because we are allowed to bring in drums, raise up tifos, and set off smoke. However, the relationship is certainly a delicate one. Generally speaking, SGs maintain a healthy skepticism of FOs and their motivations.

Photo credit: Linsinnati

Photo credit: Linsinnati

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.

Juncta Juvant

Bob

Don't forget to order your DI t-shirts for the "blackout" match. 

The shirt borrows a quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem from which Cincinnati received her nickname, the "Queen City." They're $15 apiece and can be ordered here. Please note that no shipping is available. We'll have them available for pickup at Mecklenburg Gardens before the match starting at 2 PM. We will not be bringing them to the stadium with us. Shirts can also be purchased day of, but we strongly recommend you pre-order.

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Bob Brumberg is a DI member and Bailey drummer. Follow him on Twitter.

Want to write something for the DI blog? Talk to Ronny.