Fife Flyers’ summer of silence frustrates fans desperate for news of road ahead

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You can sense the frustration online and in person among Fife Flyers’ fans anxiously waiting for news, but the summer of 2023 seems to have fallen into the same sleepy slumber as previous close seasons.

The club’s policy has always been to only announce signings and appointments once every ‘i’ has been dotted and ‘t’ crossed - the memory of ‘Schabergate’ still lingers - but radio silence since May 12 has certainly tested patience, particularly when fans look just down the road to Stark’s Park where Raith Rovers have been doing some sterling work. Comparisons may irk in some quarters, but fans can’t be blamed for looking around, seeing some great PR, and asking why their club isn’t doing something similar – or better.

Rovers’ superb and flawless ‘Leave No-One Behind’ video promo was much more than a rallying call to buy season tickets - it struck a chord with every single fan, current and lapsed, at the start of a new era under new owners. Fans were front and centre of a video, with a voice over by Gordon Brown - the most famous supporter of ‘em all - that plucked straight at the heart strings and had you rummaging for your old scarf and replica strip. Sport is all about passion, and Rovers tapped into that quite beautifully.

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Flyers’ own promos on Twitter featuring fans snapping up season tickets were well executed, but the positive message seemed to be minimised with nothing of substance to back up the rallying call. Fans want reasons to make substantial investment in a season ticket - a big signing, news on the coaches, and the plans ahead - particularly in a cost of living crisis where every single penny has to be carefully allocated. Excite them, get them talking about hockey and counting down the days, and the conversion from casual supporter to season ticket holder becomes an easier step to take, and for a gate-based team that level of financial commitment is key to its budgets.

This is what it means to support Fife Flyers (Pic: Derek Young)This is what it means to support Fife Flyers (Pic: Derek Young)
This is what it means to support Fife Flyers (Pic: Derek Young)

The club is sitting on a potentially huge fan base that could fill the rink every single weekend with the right product on the ice, and the best show on match night - but it has to up the stakes across the boards and make hockey compelling once again after three very poor seasons.

The lack of announcements suggests talks are still going on to finalise roles and responsibilities, but the comms strategy can’t be put on hold until those talks are ended and the deals signed off by owner Tom Muir. It has to engage on a regular basis - Volunteers Week, for example, was a simple and missed opportunity to say thank you to the folk who play key roles around the team - and be as pro-active as the other hockey teams.Glasgow Clan announced an impressive 1000 season tickets sold and painted a picture of a new start under new owners after a ghastly 2022-23 on and off the ice, while Solway Sharks have more than impressed with their signing announcements as they too embark on a new journey.

In contrast, Flyers are in danger of coming across as stale and static, and that cannot be good for the team, perceptions of it, or the fanbase. There is a huge desire among fans to get involved, to be part of the team, to bring new ideas new energies and new thinking, to play their part - a genuine wish to see it back to its very, very best - but the flipside is a ball of frustration at the lack of information that surfaces daily on social media.

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There are no medals to be won for the best summer promo video or announcing your roster first, but how you communicate across the off-season can impact on the numbers rinkside when the puck drops. Post-lockdown, Flyers didn’t do nearly enough to encourage fans back. Habits changed during that long absence, and many simply found others ways of spending their Saturday nights.

Crowds have continued to slide, worryingly, at a time when EIHL attendances are booming. Fife need to catch that wave, and make this sport compelling, exciting and unmissable once again, and that starts with a summer PR plan that packs a punch. The good news is, there’s still time to deliver...