A letter sent by the club to the fan seeking to renew his season ticket has been posted on Twitter this morning. Signed by the 'Duty Safety Officer', the fan is required to attend a meeting at The Valley and sign an 'Agreed Behavioural Contract' before his season ticket is issued.
The letter notes 'comments placed on social media websites by yourself have not been particularly constructive'. I could plead guilty to that as well.
The season ticket holder is required to undertake to 'refrain from posting derogatory or inflammatory comments regarding the club or people representing the club in the future on any social media websites.'
The club is, of course, legally entitled to decide whether or not it wishes to issues a season ticket to a particular individual. I do not know what the particular comments were, but if they were defamatory, there is another means of dealing with them. However, this does strike me as extraordinary behaviour that amounts to an attempt to stamp out dissent. It's the sort of behaviour one might find the former German Democratic Republic.
I am not sure that I want to continue to be associated with a club that conducts itself in this way. The club would be better advised to address the concerns that have been responsibly articulated by the Supporters' Trust.
It now appears that the club has dealt with the matter in another and more informal way, but the Supporters' Trust has rightly expressed concern about the letter being sent in the first place: Alarming and naïve
This is yet another case of the club shooting itself in the foot as it has managed to create a negative social media storm. A competent chief executive would stop these events occurring.
Big Dave Lockwood has tweeted that this shows how much the club misses John Little (the former Safety Officer). It would have been a matter of a phone call and a friendly chat.