These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the National League South in a swanky new ground. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Printed in the New Years Day 2008 Southern league south and west division match v Thatcham Town. We lost 2-1 in front or 232 people.

It said everything about the values of our society. The new sports minister attacked
the financial excesses of the Premier League, and instead of chants of support he got shot down in flames.

In an address at a sports business conference, sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe singled out England captain John Terry's wages as "obscene", said Chelsea's financial position was "unsustainable", and warned that season-ticket rises at Old Trafford were pricing out ordinary fans. A few factual errors were pounced on by the clubs to denounce his arguments. He inflated John Terry's weekly wage from £130,000 to £150,000, and said Chelsea were £250m "in the red" when their actual losses for the past two years was just a mere £220m. So that’s alright then. He said Manchester United had increased ticket prices by 13% when the real rise was only 10.87%. But if we want to get into nit-picking then maybe he should have taken into account the £38,000 Business Week estimates the England captain gets a week from his official endorsements from companies like Umbro, Samsung, Nationwide and Pro Evo Soccer.

Of course, down the lower reaches of the league not every player is paid such ridiculous amounts of cash but the main reason John Terry’s wages are so wrong is that the people who do the essential work in society get paid a pittance. Nurses, fireman, bin men, teachers – look what happens when they go on strike. But if John Terry and his mates went on strike? (People can be forgiven for thinking that this has already happened when England played Croatia).Well we might see a few more Chelsea fans at Slough games but society wouldn’t exactly come grinding to a halt now would it?

The Prime Minister wasn’t best pleased with Sutcliffe’s comments either coming 24 hours after the government had thrown its weight behind the World Cup bid. Infact the government has little sympathy for the wider argument. This is not surprising really, since New Labour have done little to sort out the scroungers in our society. I’m not talking about the usual tabloid targets, but the corporations and super rich who are masters of dodging taxes. Football mimics our society, with the obscenely wealthy stuffing their face with even more of the Christmas cake. Everyone else is told to tighten their belts and warned that their just isn’t enough money in the fifth richest country in the world to have decent public services.

It was recently revealed that the international super-rich had stashed assets worth $491bn in Jersey in order to 'avoid tax'. John Christensen, a former economic adviser to the Jersey government and now director of Tax Justice Network said "The trend in the last 30 years has been to shift the burden of tax away from companies on to the consumer and labour. Capital is increasingly going untaxed."

As football is now just another cash cow for the super rich, the ideas of the new president of Uefa, Michael Platini, haven’t gone down so well with the elite. He wrote to Gordon Brown arguing passionately that “the values championed by football are a powerful source of social integration and civic education”. “Football is a game before a product, a sport before a market, a show before a business.” He proposed crazy things like cutting the number of Champion League places allocated to Europe’s top leagues and giving 75% of allocated tickets to the finalist’s supporters. He wants wage caps on players; quotas for home-grown players; regulations on agents; financial checks on owners; revenue sharing between clubs; and redistribution of revenue into lower leagues.

Of course the top clubs said Platini was “pursuing his own bizarre agenda.” Like what? Trying to introduce a more level playing field that might bring a bit more competition into football? The British government unsurprisingly weren’t impressed either. A Gordon Brown spokesman said he would not allow England's national game to be run by Brussels. Oh no, much better to have it run by a murky global gang of the criminally rich, already salivating at the prospect of breaking free from tiresome Uefa and even national leagues, instead mounting show games in global tours, modelled on rock concerts and sponsored by multinationals (que Man United’s up and coming dates in Saudia Arabia).