Club clamps down on fan social media dissent
A good reputation is important to all businesses, not least football clubs. Social media can play a crucial role in shaping that reputation, both positively and negatively. But should a club seek to control the expression of dissent by fans?
A letter sent by Charlton Athletic to a 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.'
I do not know what the particular comments were. Should they be defamatory, there is another way of proceeding. Charlton has been the subject of a sustained campaign by fans organised in the Campaign Against Roland Duchatelet (CARD). Duchatelet is the Belgian owner of the club.
The club is, of course, legally entitled to decide whether or not it wishes to issues a season ticket to a particular individual. However, this does strike me as extraordinary behaviour that amounts to an attempt to stamp out dissent. Football fans sometimes say some silly things, but should their views be suppressed?