Earlier today we posted about a group of New York Red Bulls fans planning a protest over the firing of Mike Petke, by purchasing a billboard near Red Bull Arena. I talked to two of the many people behind the idea to get their take on why they started the protest. I talked to Goran Markovic and Jeff Kleiman, and here's what they had to say.
OaM: What's the main reason for the billboard?
Goran: Main reason for the billboard is the recent firing of our head coach and club legend Mike Petke after the best two year period in team's history. But that move is just one of many that the front office/ownership has done in recent past which run counter to running a successful team in the New York area. Mainly, clear communication from former sporting director Andy Roxburgh and Mike Petka that the team will not spend as much money as they used to on player acquisitions which can be seen by the lack of 3rd DP for two seasons and lack of interest in replacing Thierry Henry, even with names such as Michael Bradley, Dempsey, Gerrard and in the last few days former Metro player Jozy Altidore coming to the league. It seems by their words and actions, unwillingness to spend money on advertising and riding on the coat tails of the second NY franchise which is coming into the league this season as stated my Marc DeGrandpre, the GM of the team, that the team is doing a bare minimum to keep it running and no interest in making this team the best in the league.
Jeff: What Goran said about hits the nail on the head, but I have a little bit more to add. The treatment of Petke by his firing is astounding. If Petke was an abject failure and was incompetent as a coach, that would be one thing. Missing the playoffs altogether and stringing back-to-back losing seasons is just cause. What has happened isn't just. Petke loves this club with ever fiber of his being. He's bled for this club, cried tears for this club, and sweated for this club. He's one of us. His firing isn't just a slap in his face, it's a slap in the face of every supporter of this team. Most supporters have stayed silent while this ownership group has made this team nothing more than walking billboards for their energy drink, in the hopes that we will win MLS Cup. We are the few that refuse to stay silent any longer.
OaM: Do you have plans to show your displeasure about the Petke situation in any other way or just the billboard?
Goran: This billboard is first of many actions the fans are talking about and that will be done.
OaM: Is there is a way for someone to help if they can't donate?
Jeff: The best way to help if they cannot donate is to spread the word. This project needs all the help it can get in the hopes of raising the funds possible. Spread the word and let's get everyone who can donate to donate!
OaM: There has been a rash of fans who have stated they cancelled their season tickets or are defecting to NYC FC; are you considering any such option?
Goran: As a fan of the team since the 90's I was a fan of the team through many changes in ownership, coaches, players, names and performance and as such I am a committed supporter of my local team, no matter who the coach or the owner is and have not considered any such actions on my part. I have two season tickets in section 101 and that will not change. New York City FC deserves no mention in this as it is not my local team and I have no interest in watching soccer in a baseball stadium. Yearly trips to RFK are more than enough.
Jeff: I'll never stop supporting this team. I love the friends that I've made while being a supporter of this team and we're one big dysfunctional family. One day (hopefully soon) Red Bull will be gone and we will all celebrate their sale of the team. I'm way too committed to being a supporter of this team to just turn my back on it. Of course it would be easier to support a team that I didn't have to take 2 trains and spend nearly 2 hours one-way to go see, but that's not where my heart and loyalty lie. It's here, and that will never, ever change. Soy del Metro!
If you want to donate to the fund, you can go to the IndieGoGo campaign.