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.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Printed in the Southern League Central Division match v St.Neots Town
on Saturday 12th November 2011. We won 2-0 in front of  379 people and
go back to the top of the league!

AIK Stockholm versus Djurgårdens IF is the biggest football derby in
Sweden. But for the first 10 minutes of the match the stadium was
quiet with both sets of fans united in silence to protest how fans are
being priced out of the game.

This was the inspiration that has galvanized a pocket of fed up
Wolvehampton Wanderers fans into action. With their game against
Sunderland on Sunday 4th December live on Sky, Wolves fans decided
that this will be the time to demonstrate to the whole of the Premier
League what football would be like without supporters. There will be
no clapping players out onto the pitch, no singing, no celebrating any
goals scored, just stone dead silence. Watching the You Tube clip of
the AIK Stockholm game, if they pull this off it will be a really
powerful message (although knowing Sky they will probably pipe in
canned cheering).

Their message is now spreading, just like the fantastic Fans United
movement that got behind Brighton and Hove Albion, inviting supporters
of every allegiance to ‘Take Back The Game’ together. A game that has
seen some clubs prices rising by 900% since the Premier League was
launched in 1992! With the world economy a financial car crash, it’s
harder than ever for supporters to follow their team home or away.
While most of us see living standards dropping, player’s wages
continue to rise to an astronomical level. The average top-flight
football player now earns 34 times the average national wage!

Whilst this hyper-capitalism might have brought success and glamour to
the Premier League, the rampant commercialism and focus on profit has
left fans feeling like cash cow customers squeezed for every last
penny. From the ‘39th game’ through to privatised TV rights, European
super leagues and the suggestion of abandoning relegation, those at
the very top seem evermore determined to seek ever-greater riches to
create a manufactured, commodity product that bears little resemblance
to a sport.

But with American owners pilling into the Premier League, it’s no
surprise that the idea of scrapping relegation came about. In the US,
sports leagues are closed, meaning there is no relegation or
promotion. John Henry, one of Liverpool’s new owners who already owns
baseball team Boston Red Sox, admitted he knew "virtually nothing
about Liverpool Football Club nor EPL (English Premier League)." But
he spelt out why he was interested "So much internet clutter competes
for mindshare now. Big sports clubs are one of the few things which
can cut through and capture mindshare. We have one of the great
baseball teams, but its ability is geographically limited. The
Liverpool numbers blew us away. We believe there is a significant
amount of monetisation we can do, on a worldwide basis, which is not
occurring now."
This ice-cold business-speak sums up just what football clubs mean to
most owners. And the last thing Henry would want for his product is it
being ruined by relegation.

So should these protests matter to us lower league minnows? I reckon
it should. The hollowness of the trickle down theory; the idea that
those at the top with so much cash will reach down to the bottom, is
codswallop. Just look at how non league is littered with fallen clubs.
And with so much money swishing around in the top divisions, how come
grassroots football finds it so hard to get by?

Maybe the horse has already bolted, but just like the protestors
camped out across the world to protest under the 99 percent banner,
football fans should fight their corner and show that ultimately
without them, these football brands are damaged goods. ‘A movement for
football fans sick of high prices, sanitised stadiums and prima donna
players. We're taking the beautiful game back.’ It’s about time us
footie fans refused to suffer in silence.!/takebackthegame


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