Skip to main content

Supporter for hire: Football fanatic offers fanship to highest bidder

By Chris Murphy, CNN
July 20, 2012 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
In 1927, for the first and only time in its history, the FA Cup was taken out of England when Cardiff City (captained by Freddie Keanor, right) beat Arsenal 1-0. The goal scored became known as '"the howler" but Arsenal goalkeeper Dan Lewis blamed the sheen of his recently-washed jersey for the ball slipping under his body and into the net. In 1927, for the first and only time in its history, the FA Cup was taken out of England when Cardiff City (captained by Freddie Keanor, right) beat Arsenal 1-0. The goal scored became known as '"the howler" but Arsenal goalkeeper Dan Lewis blamed the sheen of his recently-washed jersey for the ball slipping under his body and into the net.
HIDE CAPTION
Cardiff's rich history
2009: Ninian Park closes its gates
2009: Cardiff's new $75M home
2010: The quest for promotion continues
2010: Malaysian invasion
2012: Shootout heartbreak
2012: Bluebirds no more?
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Disillusioned football fan offers his support for next season in auction on eBay
  • Ben Dudley switching allegiance from Cardiff City in protest at club's rebranding exercise
  • Malaysian owners have changed club's colors from blue to red and changed badge
  • Dudley offering to support the team of whoever makes highest bid for 2012-13 season

(CNN) -- It is an unwritten rule in soccer -- once you nail your colors to the mast you must never even think about switching allegiances.

But for one diehard UK football fan, his disillusionment with his beloved club is so great he is offering his support to the highest bidder on eBay.

"With selling history and tradition the latest trend within football, I have decided to get on the bandwagon," writes lifelong Cardiff City fan Ben Dudley on his eBay page.

The straw that broke the camel's back for Dudley was the decision by the Welsh team's Malaysian owners to rebrand the club by insisting they play in red rather than their traditional blue to boost their appeal to Asian audiences.

So much so that Dudley is willing to trade his dedication to the Bluebirds' cause to whoever stumps up the most cash in the internet auction, whether it is Premier League champions Manchester City or lowly Ross County in the far north of Scotland.

Can PSG's big bucks buy world football domination?

"It feels like the club have abandoned their local supporters," Dudley told CNN. "While they play in red with a dragon on the badge I've had my season ticket refunded and I'm not going to go to anymore games until they've reversed the branding.

Didier Drogba welcomed to China
Dressing for success on football field

"I believe the board has thrown away the club's history on a gamble that is not guaranteed to make any money anyway. They don't understand the idea behind Cardiff being the Bluebirds and playing in blue. Cardiff have played in blue since 1908."

The rebranding move was met with outrage by supporters of the club, who play in the second tier of the English league, when it was announced last month.

Cardiff's Malaysian owners said the marketing exercise was part of a significant investment package that would help secure the club's immediate financial future after a debt-laden few years and help broaden their appeal in "international markets."

The club's chief executive Alan Whiteley acknowledged it would not be a universally popular plan and Dudley is living proof that resentment is still simmering.

"I've had a season ticket for the last nine years and I go to most away games as well so it wasn't something I have taken lightly, but the thought of watching Cardiff play in red at home wasn't something I could live with," he said.

"When the players come out or we score a goal we all chant 'Bluebirds' and obviously the bluebird has now been replaced by a dragon.

"The nickname is the Bluebirds but the team will now be playing in red. It will look silly, a stadium of blue seats, fans in blue shirts and a team playing in red."

But after following Cardiff the length and breadth of the country last season, when he watched his team in action 51 times, is he not apprehensive of the distance he might be required to travel to back his new team?

"It would be a bit of a trek up to Newcastle (some 322 miles away). I'm just hoping someone from Sydney FC doesn't see it and try to sign me up.

"A non-league team would be good but our local rivals Swansea and Bristol fans can't buy me -- anyone apart from that is fine."

The fan is dead, long live the phone?

However, it's not just Cardiff's rebranding initiative that has upset Dudley.

Aggrieved at the change football has undergone in recent years, with the huge amounts of money sloshing around the game through TV and sponsorship deals leading to exorbitant wages for players and a big increase in foreign owners, Dudley argues the sport is unrecognizable from the game he started to follow as a teenager.

"I wasn't around in the 1970s or 1980s but people who knew football at that time wouldn't be able to recognize the sport now and see the wages players are on. It's not the sport I loved when I was 14 and started to go to Cardiff games," he added.

"Fans aren't really the priority in football anymore; it is all about money and trying to make money from TV deals. I think (the owners) are trying to get a TV deal in Malaysia to show all our games as part of the whole making Cardiff the team of choice for Malaysia.

"They said the color red is marketable in Asia, they think Asian fans and Malaysian fans won't care about Cardiff in a blue shirt but if they play in red at home they will suddenly take Cardiff as their team instead of Real Madrid or Barcelona. It doesn't seem very likely to me."

Bidding for Dudley's football soul is currently running at over $300, which has come as something of a shock to him.

"With the price going far beyond anything I had expected, this is now a full charity auction. 50% will go to Help for Heroes charity and 50% to the Ty Hafan charity. The only money I will take from this auction is enough to pay the eBay fees."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is provoking huge media interest and the hungry attention of Europe's top clubs.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Last season Jose Mourinho wrote off the title of hopes of his "little horse" -- but now he has a squad primed to dethrone Manchester City.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1858 GMT (0258 HKT)
Luis Suarez will have to wait until late October to make his competitive Barcelona debut his ban for biting an opponent was partially upheld.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Can Louis van Gaal cut it at Manchester United? Will Bayern conquer all in Germany? Is this PSG's year to win the Champions League?
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)
It's been a difficult year for Barcelona on and off the pitch, and the signing of Luis Suarez has only increased the prospect of more controversy.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals at four World Cup finals, has announced his retirement from international football.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa line up in their tuxedo kit.
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Brazil's new coach Dunga won the World Cup as a player in 1994.
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.
ADVERTISEMENT