Reclaiming football – fan solidarity and the battle ahead

I’m an Arsenal fan. I also have more in common with 99% of spurs’ fans than I do with almost anyone playing for, or representing, Arsenal football club. 

Whether it’s spurs fans hating the Arsenal, or Arsenal fans hating the spurs, it’s in my very humble opinion, a gigantic pile of bullshit. Bullshit that has piled up around us to such an extent that we cannot see around it to where our anger should be aimed.

Earlier this week Dave Boyle from Supporters Direct wrote, “The biggest divide in the game is between those people who earn a living from it and those who pay for that living.” – A spot on analysis.

Let’s take the Board of Arsenal as an example. Do I have more in common with the Eton-educated-banker Peter Hill-Wood, or with someone I grew up with, played on the same youth team as and still stay in touch with – who just also happens to be a spurs fan?

You get my point.

Another example…

Take (Tory) Lord Harris of Peckham, a Director on the Arsenal board but not exactly ‘my sort of guy’. I have no doubt he is a big Arsenal fan, but believe me…I also won’t be down the boozer defending him anytime soon.

I would choose 99% of football fans regardless of club affiliation to have a pint with over Arsenal’s Lord Harris.

But this goes much further than the board room. What about the players who we shout our hearts out for? What about the journalists who pen the print we religiously read? What about the agents who bring the players to the clubs. They are all an integral part of my world in a way but they are also all operating in a different universe to me – a much better paid universe.

We know that when the price is right (m)any footballer will jump ship, happy to move to cities, countries and even continents to where the money is. Take Ashley Cole as an example. When he was at Arsenal I used to spend long drawn out pints describing why he was one of the best left-backs English football had ever seen. I think I was genuinely proud of him.

Today I struggle to think of a footballer I am less proud. This isn’t just about him following the scent of an oligarch’s money but also about his whole approach to the game.

At the heart of all this is a distinction that Boyle draws out, but one that the majority of football fans are blind to that “Everyone who makes a living from the game has a fundamentally different perspective to the people who pay to make that living possible. That includes those journalists who get a good view, free hot drinks and never pay for a ticket. It includes agents, and it includes players, administrators, executives and owners.

For those within most of our club’s structures, it’s a job, a career, a stepping stone to the next level.

For the fans though it’s a different story. Regardless of city you live in or the club you support we have something massive in common – a passion for the beautiful game. This is, and will always be, the driving force behind us.

The challenge is how to get this passion into the boardrooms….

That’s where these guys step in.

1 Comment

Filed under Economics, Sport

One response to “Reclaiming football – fan solidarity and the battle ahead

  1. Sam T

    Great article Steve – seems like a tipping point has been reached for many supporters in the past month, maybe cos of £62 ticket prices or just a realisation that we’re all being taken for a ride by people profiting ridiculously at our expense.

    I think Dave Boyle’s last point (however overtly socialist it may sound) that supporters need to unite, is spot on. As long as our frustrations remain on club online forums, the status quo won’t need to be challenged. Transparency & greater supporter involvement are the key.


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