Birmingham City and Brentford fans – trailblazers or sell outs?

28 Aug

With the disappointment of Adam Forshaw and Tuesday night against Fulham put to one side, I’ve been trawling the Internet for a different Brentford story. And thanks to a most unlikely source – Birmingham City – I’ve found one.

It’s no secret that even outside of ‘official’ circles we have several fanatics involved in promoting Brentford FC. And, by promoting, I mean more along the lines of ‘getting involved’.

The work of the Beesotted crew is, of course, a longstanding yardstick by which to judge others but then we have all other levels of involvement.

There are the bloggers such as myself and Greville Waterman with his BFCtalk; the fanzine teams such as Thorne In The Side; the authors, such as Luis Adriano or, again, yours truly (‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA cup’ and ‘Penalties‘ are still both available on kindle). Even the supporters themselves, through the medium of fancam.

Which brings me on to Birmingham City. For all the past rivalry and banter their fans are, ultimately, much like our own. You get those who travel, those who like a drink in an ‘away’ pub, those who arrive two hours early to clap the players off the coach and those who write the blogs, publish the fanzines and shoot the home produced videos. Diehards who each contribute their own small piece to the labour of love that is ‘supporting your team’.

In the case of Birmingham City things are slightly different. Trying to find a picture of Clayton Donaldson in a ‘blue shirt’ I stumbled across the below video by a chap called Davo. Like the Beesotted ‘match videos’ it features the visit to the opposing team and various fan interviews.

 

However, unlike the Beesotted videos – their equivalent from the Birmingham game being below – there are two distinct differences which, I’d wager, are probably related.

 

 

The first difference being that the Birmingham video shows actual ‘on pitch action’. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t BAFTA winning quality and you are never going to say to yourself: “Sorry Manish. I would tune in to the football league show but, to be honest, why would I want your multi-angle HD coverage when I’ve seen a blur of Clayton through the back of somebody’s head?

That said, what they do have is an added sense of ‘being there’. We can’t all be lucky enough to travel and this footage just adds to the sense of still remaining part of that giant football family.

Frankly, I love it. I think this is a great touch to complement a really well put together piece of work. Even for the ‘home’ team, it gives a unique view on the game as, in the case of Brentford, we’d never see action from the Wendy House.

To be honest, I’m not sure how Davo is able to get away with this. As the Brentford fancam adverts constantly tell us, “Under the terms of the Football League’s broadcast agreements, supporters are not allowed to publish any footage taken from inside a ground when a Football League match is taking place..”

But here’s the trade off and, I’d guess, that second key difference. A version of the Birmingham City video is also available via the official club site. And with any ‘official’ publication you are liable to the possibility of censorship and editing,

Not just that but a potential loss of respect from the very people you are appealing to. If the likes of T.I.T.S. or GPG could only exist through official club channels, there’d be immediate accusations of “Sell out” all round. I love these sources purely because they ARE independent.

That’s not to knock the club. They produce their own highlight packages and Beesplayer features. Football is a business and they are appealing to their consumers – the fans. The media team are trying to promote ‘brand Brentford’ and why should they allow anybody else to muscle in?

And this is where we come back to the earlier ‘Manish’ point. It’s one which has also been highlighted by the Premiership recently looking to prosecute people for publishing highlight clips on YouTube.

I’m not a (complete) idiot and realise that there are things such as contracts, licensing agreements, exclusivity deals etc. However, there is also such a thing as technology, which is ever evolving.

Social media and mobile phones are going to present people with more and more opportunity to share these sort of clips. Technology which is going to be harder and harder to police. Just ask Getty images!

These are clips that, of course, are hardly of the highest quality (relative to the TV coverage or official highlights packages) and unlikely to steal any potential viewing figures. I could watch either of these two video reports but I’d still, also, want to catch up on the Football League show or club YouTube site.

I could read Greville’s latest blog column but I’d still make sure I juxtaposed this with Chris Wickham’s match report.

The point being, as ever in a very roundabout fashion, that I’m not sure what the footballing authorities (at whatever level) are scared of?

People are never going to turn away from official coverage because some well organised fans have bolstered their video report with thirty seconds of match footage shot from the back of the terrace. Reports which have all the more credibility for the fact that they remain independent.

Our clubs do an excellent job of Youtube and ‘player’ footage.

Davo at Birmingham has produced a really impressive piece of work that has the bonus of ‘unique’ match footage although who knows if/what the club have held back. Even if nothing, supporters will always have their suspicions that this is just more ‘club speak’.

Beesotted have the innovation of prematch ‘pub debate’ followed by, action free, match reports. That said, they still push the envelope and were, for example, the ones ‘on the ground’ with a video camera at the post-Preston impromptu promotion street party

All these teams produce different pieces of work but all complement each other. Is there really no margin for a bit of crossover? Like it or not, social media is going to make this happen more and more.

Whilst, rightly, I can’t see the likes of the BBC, the clubs or the Leagues allowing fans to transmit full match footage, is the odd minute or two of handheld camera footage REALLY that big a threat? Indeed, could you argue that this brief taster will only drive supporters towards official sites to see ‘the real thing’.

Or is money and exclusivity that big a deal that any threat should either be obliterated or legitimised through an official partnership? I do find it interesting that Birmingham City have even had to go down a partnership route. Is it a case of embracing change or simply ‘making a deal with the devil’ ?

My take on it? Official footage is high quality but a few minutes of supporter shot film gives that true feeling of being part of a fanbase; of supporting your team; of stoking further interest. And given how the club’s bottom line is, surely, to attract ‘customers’, then what easier way to do this?

If the video crews, bloggers and fanzine writers are prepared to do this then, surely, they are just saving the marketing teams a bucketload of effort and providing hours of publicity?

One thing’s for sure, we haven’t seen the last of fan shot video reports. The only decision being how hard the clubs and League want to police them or, if done in moderation, how much they are actually prepared to accept this, unintentional, free advertising.

Looking for Clayton, I ended up with Davo's diary

Looking for Clayton, I ended up with Davo’s diary

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6 Responses to “Birmingham City and Brentford fans – trailblazers or sell outs?”

  1. Greville Waterman August 28, 2014 at 6:50 am #

    Good column – excellent and provocative thinking

    • nickbruzon August 28, 2014 at 7:11 am #

      Thanks Greville. Like to mix things up a little bit every now and then – this opportunity presented itself very nicely.
      Be interesting to see if the Bees have any plans / thoughts about heading into new territory or whether they feel fan cam covers this off sufficiently (it doesn’t, in my opinion).

  2. _ShaneIreland August 28, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    Davo has been doing the fan videos for quite a few years not but last season all of his videos were taken down after The Football Leagueb filed copyright complaints.

    It was then that BCFC stepped in and ultimately saved his very popular content by essentially ’employing’ him so that his content could still be shown as he represents the club.

    The video that is uploaded on BCFC’s official YouTube channel is almost no different to the one that appears on Davo’s channel. The club obviously edit out the noticeable swearing.

    All in all it was great that the club allowed Davo to still produce what he does considering the FL rules quoted in your article.

  3. _ShaneIreland August 28, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    The move by which BCFC allowed Davo to continue producing his content was a very popular one when they announced he would be doing it for the club’s official YouTube channel at the start of last season.

    In a nutshell, almost all of Davo’s videos were removed from YouTube after extensive copyright complaints were filed by The Football League.

    As BCFC could clearly see how enjoyable his videos were, they essentially ’employed’ him in a position where he made his fan videos for the club, allowing him to set up a new YouTube channel in the process, which proved an extremely popular decision.

    The videos which are uploaded onto BCFC’s official channel are very similar to the one’s Davo uploads to his own, with only the noticeable swearing edited out. The club even keep in the ‘all we care about is BCFC’ line from our ‘We don’t care about Carson’ song.

    • Luis Adriano August 28, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

      Great column from Nick and interesting perspective given here re. BCFC “employing” Davo. Not sure this would work with Beesotted and the BFC Media team though!

      I totally agree that watching some terrace footage of the actual game is not going to make you avoid official channels. Such a shame the FL are so heavy-handed in enforcing ‘their copyright’.

      As I’m familiar with the great work Beesotted do with their vids, I’m now gonna check out Davo’s. Cheers.

  4. Cris Glascow August 28, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

    Very well said. Jobs’ worths at the Football League et al, take note.

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