DOES FOOTBALL NEED A JEREMY CORBYN MOMENT?
DOES FOOTBALL NEED A JEREMY CORBYN MOMENT?
Before you turn away or turn off thinking this is a political message, I can promise you it is not. This is not about political parties or policies. However, over the past few months, no one can have failed to notice how, from nowhere, Jeremy Corbyn has seized the moment. He has captured the imagination and the backing of many thousands of supporters who are fed up with modern day politics and what they perceive to be a lack of input and increasing control in what is fed to them.
Is football reaching the same point in its evolution? Are supporters becoming fed up with the commercialism, selfishness and lack of control/input in today's football? Like politics, is football losing touch with the supporters who follow the game?
Is football through its lack of supporter interaction in need of a Jeremy Corbyn moment when the game is returned to its roots? Following the scandals at FIFA, the constant re-branding, poor management and shameless commercialism, should it now be returned to the supporters? Should they have a true voice in the decision making of what is the people's game? It is a spectator event, but a sport where currently the supporter has little or no say in its running or its future direction. Has the game become more remote during recent years? Does it need to regain its closeness with the person who follows a club or just the game itself? Ordinary supporters are being priced out. Does it need to treat supporters fairly, recognising their importance rather than just taking them for granted?
Commercialism and financial income have become so important for a club's survival that the game itself is now at risk of losing the person it needs most: the supporter. If supporters start to desert the game then there is no TV money. If children don’t find the games magic then who will come to matches or follow the team?
For all the money that comes into the game, it leaves in equal or greater amounts via the wages of agents and players. The long term benefit is wasted and lost. High wages for average players or investment in facilities: which would you take? Control or anarchy in attempting to reach or stay in the Promised Land? Whatever, the game itself will lose out on opportunities for long-term security in the attempt to succeed in the short term.
How many people followed the Amber Army against Manchester United home and away? Many who went to Old Trafford were amazed how little atmosphere there was from the home supporters. It seemed to be more like a tourist destination than a competitive football match for them, almost a theme park environment. For Cambridge United it was such an important couple of matches due to the financial rewards on offer. However, that reward was all based on a ball being drawn from a bag. Should it be based on a fairer and more equal spread of TV and commercial monies? Would the game benefit from a fairer spread of the income rather than the current rich-get-richer theory and success culture?
There are millions and millions of pounds being put into football at present. However, the structure of grassroots is at risk through the rising costs of community pitches and the standard of facilities on offer. Saturday and Sunday local teams get fewer and fewer each year. Grassroots' football is in crisis. Does the Premier League truly care beyond the one or two sound bites or will it truly champion the greater good and provide everything that is required for grassroots to survive and prosper?
The opportunity for clubs to compete equally is becoming less and less possible. Therefore the opportunity of a true and fair competition or league is becoming almost non-existent. Every league now has leagues within themselves: the well off, the quite well off and the rest. Most sides know they cannot compete so the status quo becomes the aim for the majority. The gulf between those who have and the have-nots in the professional game means the risk to the richest becomes greater and the game becomes more elitist and protectionist. The romance of a team progressing up the leagues has almost become non-existent or impossible to achieve or maintain. If there is no chance of progression then stagnation will cause the game and clubs to go backwards through lethargy and complacency.
Is it time for football in England to adopt a new system for financing clubs: one which will ensure that all clubs start equally and all of them begin a season being competitive and with a dream of success; a system that allows all clubs to remain financially viable entities? Is it time for the game to be less reliant on money? Budgets based on a percentage of income can be abused and still benefit the strongest. Is it time for the super-rich individuals to be curtailed in their investments? Is it time for the supporter to be seen as more than just an object, someone who will pay and do whatever they need to do to follow their club?
Should TV money be spent to benefit the game itself and the supporters, instead of a few rich clubs and their players? Is it too much for supporters to have a dream that their club can succeed and be successful without being held hostage to the financial race to Armageddon?
Is the running of football really any different from politics? Are the people running football only listening to themselves and not to the person who goes to the match or follows a team? Do they ever think about the supporter or is it just about the next pound?
Is football requiring a Jeremy Corbyn moment?
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