“MY fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” At a time when a rollerblading chimp in a tuxedo would be preferable to the current incumbent of the White House, President Kennedy’s words from his 1961 inauguration seem more powerful than ever.

Most of that speech was, in fact, written by JFK’s adviser, Ted Sorensen, who got little credit for his craftmanship, something that will resonate with any journalist who has ever had the dubious pleasure of ghosting a weekly column for a footballer who then got all the credit and money.

Kennedy’s heartfelt plea to the American people to give rather than expecting to receive has been a mantra deployed by most of our football clubs since back in ye olden days when Teddy Roosevelt was still in office.

It has traditionally been a one-way process. Supporters are usually told what to do rather than consulted. Demands are made. Give us your money and don’t stop it coming. Season ticket income, tickets, strips, scarves, bobbly hats, matchday programmes, half-time draws, club TV subscriptions, pies and Bovrils – there is a never-ending request for fans to empty their pockets to financially prop up their chosen club.

Most do it without grumbling. For there can be few relationships in any other walk of life quite like that between a football fan and the team they are besotted with. Rational, sensible people who would stop to question the sanity of a never-ending flow of money from their bank account into any other organisation will do just about anything asked of them by a football club, especially during a period of hardship.

The notion that their club could be struggling financially – or, god forbid, in any kind of danger of going to the wall – will usually prompt the sort of emergency response usually seen at the time of, well, international crisis.

What do supporters get back for this unstinting devotion? Contempt mostly. The notion that this ongoing financial backing should gain them a certain amount of leverage over what takes place at their club – and it is theirs, lest we forget – doesn’t seem to apply in football.

Instead, their reward is to be afforded the opportunity to watch their team in action, often on a day and at a time that may not particularly suit. Whoever was in charge of negotiating for fans at the start of this burgeoning commercialist relationship didn’t do a particularly great job. And is probably now holding down a key post in government.

The current cessation of activities, though, offers the perfect chance to redress the balance a bit. Clubs are looking at weeks - probably months - without income through the turnstiles and many will struggle financially as a result as they look to continue to pay staff and players.

Many have the begging bowls out already, looking for external help. Supporters are being asked to provide donations - £10, £20 or whatever they can afford – to help keep the lights on. Many will rush to do so without even barely stopping to think. The show must go on after all.

It may seem crass to be thinking about making demands at a time like this. Insensitive even. But perhaps the moment has arrived when supporters are entitled to ask not just what they can do for their clubs, but what their clubs can also do for them.

In a period when season ticket renewal letters will soon be dropping through letterboxes, fans would be well within their rights to ask for something back.

Many of the them will be experiencing financial hardship, too. Perhaps out of work or having to take a step back to home school their children. Most will continue to contribute what they can spare to support their clubs. But it has reached a point where – harsh as it may seem – saving and protecting the lives of people matters more than the welfare of any organisation or institution. And that includes football teams too.

Some clubs are belatedly waking up this reality and appreciating that, rather than navel gazing about their own problems, the time has come for them to also do more for their immediate fanbase and their wider communities as well.

Highland League side Nairn County led the way with a terrific statement from their chairman. “When we were in financial trouble several years ago, we asked the community for help and the community responded. We remember this and now it is our turn to repay this debt.”

Others have followed suit, promising to donate to food banks and other charities, or getting their players to support the elderly or other vulnerable people in their community by delivering messages or helping them out at home.

This is what being a football club should be about. Not just continually asking for money or presenting fait accompli decisions to fans but engaging with them and giving something back. Long may that continue through the current crisis and beyond.

It was another brilliant public orator, Bill Shankly, who said: “The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of rewards. It’s the way I see football, it’s the way I see life.”

In these difficult days, it is a sentiment that never felt more appropriate.