These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

NEXT STOP MARS

Printed in the league match v Fleet Town Saturday 23rd February 2008. After the last two weeks of abject performances, we beat the league leaders 2-1 in front of 221 people. After the game we were also introduced to our new chairman and told of plans for a new ground in Slough which are political parties in Slough are backing. A good week for the club after two seasons of crap!


I can't say I was that surprised to hear the latest plans from the Premiership planning a game a season abroad. Exporting the brand across the globe to millions of grateful fans who can't make it to our wind swept shores is a football club chairman's wet dream. Anyone opposing it is portrayed like some old fuddy-duddy; patronisingly patted on the head and told that unfortunately in a globalised world, football has too love with the times - play abroad of just watch the Premiership brand wither.


But anyone with half a brain cell knows that this is a load of bollocks. The idea is just another way of increasing profits; flogging more merchandise, getting some people hooked on the Premiership – oh and getting some more pay-per-view subscriptions for any of those actual supporters (remember them?) who pay good money to go to games but won’t be able to afford that trip abroad but will pay to watch it on TV. For any chance of getting the go ahead they have had to include every club in the Premiership but asked about the proposal an insider at one of the smaller clubs told it how it was. "It's being pushed by the big clubs. They have commitments to sponsors and to owners."


The last thing the Premiership clubs needs is more money, but Man United and Liverpool have landed themselves with such massive debt they need to squeeze every penny out of any fan across the world whose ever cheered them on. Accountancy firm Deloitte believes their revenues will only increase if they maximise their money-making potential abroad. "Manchester United have 300 million overseas supporters but do not make as much money from them as possible," said Deloitte's Alan Switzer. "Even £2 extra from each fan would make an enormous difference. That is something all the big English clubs are now focusing on. The idea of a 39th game is part of that strategy."


But do the big clubs really need more cash? How about this for a crazy, Robin Hood style plan - re-distribution of wealth? While these proposals were being announced AFC Bournemouth nearly went out of business. They are now in receivership with debts of £4 million, have been deducted ten points and are almost certainties for relegation. They join Luton Town and Leeds United in League One who have both had points docked this season for going into administration. Still, who cares as long as Man United can “maximise their revenue expenditure.”


The new American owners no doubt want to mould the Premier League along US lines. No matter how bad your season in the NFL you wont suffer the financial calamity of relegation. Wouldn’t it be swell if that could happen in the Premiership? And if Liverpool and Man United get drawn together in Miami, both sets of owners might actually get to watch their team play.


Thankfully there has been a massive back-lash for the idea. From Sepp Blather saying it would threaten England’s bid for the World Cup, to the Australian and the Asian football federation saying no; to supporters groups threatening to target sponsorships to proposals for a breakaway club AFC Liverpool.


I’ve argued countless times football clubs are not business in any proper sense of the word but are community assets. That’s as true for Liverpool as it is for Slough Town. Football is able to cross many boundaries and barriers and get people working together who wouldn’t normally mix and become part of the social glue that binds communities together. In such a transient town like Slough with so many different people and cultures that is something to be cherished. As Norwich City fan Delia Smith put it “Football is the best kind of community you’re likely to be exposed to in the twenty-first century. And community is where we flourish and become human. Football can be wonderful, life-enhancing.” One of the hurdles Slough Town had to pass to be given the initial go ahead for our new stadium was the councils 'well-being' criteria. Mind you the past few seasons haven’t exactly helped with any of our supporters well being! But if we are run as a proper community club involving all ages playing football and bringing in lots of other sports such as the boxing club then we will tick all the council boxes and help create a buzz around the club that will bring in the crowds.

In its desperation to chase new markets, the top level of football long ago gave up worrying about silly things like heritage and tradition. This is another opportunity for non league clubs to go out and attract those fed up fans of top level clubs to come and watch football on the terraces once again.



* The Football Supporters Federation are planning a day of action at forthcoming Premier League fixtures www.fsf.org.uk

* To find out about AFC Liverpool http://www.afcliverpool.org.uk/


1 Comments:

Anonymous adidas predator said...

2-1 was a great result, proud to be a slough fan

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11:23 pm

 

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