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.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


Printed in the Southern League Central Division game v Chalfont St
Peter Saturday 31st Matrch 2012. We drew 1-1 in front of 283 and stay
frustratingly second.

So what does Glasgow Rangers going into administration mean for
football? Is it, as consultants A T Kearney think, footballs Lehmans
moment? Lehmans was the massive investment bank that went to the wall
helping to bring the worlds economy crashing down. Could Rangers
insolvency be the beginning of a wider systemic crisis for football? A
business as negligently run as the worst banks.

Massively in debt they were brought for just one pound by a venture
capitalist with a dodgy background - I know that’s unusual for a
venture capitalist. He unsurprisingly passed the Scottish Football
Associations ‘fit and proper’ test. Well, they admit they didn’t
really bother to check and just asked him if he was a decent bloke.
But that’s the point and the problem. The Scottish FA just like the
English FA can’t take on the big football clubs who have become too
powerful for them to regulate.
A while back the government wrote a report telling the English FA to
sort themselves out or they will pass laws to do it. This really got
the FA scared. So last week they published their own report. The
minister, Hugh Robertson – who once boldly called football "the
country's worst governed sport" – welcomed the document, despite the
football authorities having rejected or blatantly ignored almost all
of his recommendations!
One of the government recommendations was that they would "encourage
the reform of football governance rules to support the co-operative
ownership of football clubs by supporters". It is not clear, almost
two years on, how the government thinks it has promoted that policy.
Instead what do we get? The news that Supporters Direct funded by the
Premiership since 2000 to promote fan ownership and representation in
clubs, must look for other ways to get its funding.
That the FA does FA should come as no surprise to any football fan
with a pulse. Portsmouth once again entered administration with debts
totaling around £50m. This is considerably less than the £119m owed
when they went into administration just two years ago but once again
it raises the broader issue whether the football authorities have the
resources, expertise or bollocks to properly carry out the fit and
proper persons test.

Of course there is a different model to all this and its one that more
football fans need to embrace if they want any sort of future for the
majority of our clubs. FC United of Manchester, the breakaway
Manchester United fans owned supporters club have managed to raise a
staggering  £1.6m from a community share issue to help fund a new
football ground and community sports facility in Moston, north
Manchester. Reaching the £1.6m target unlocks the grant funding they
need to meet the costs of the £4.6m project and enable building to
start in May.  Shareholders all have just one vote regardless of the
number of shares they hold, preserving the common ownership of the
club. As General Manager Andy Walsh put it “FC United was not just
established as ’another football club’ our stated aim from the very
beginning was to find an alternative way of running clubs to the
madness of rotating ownership and casino economics.”

So are Glasgow Rangers just like Lehmans claimed at the time, too big
too fail? Or will this be the wake up call football needs. I wouldn’t
hold your breath.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Printed in the Southern League Central Division game v Biggleswade Town on Saturday 17th March 2012. We mugged Biggleswade 2-1 in front of 234 and remain second.

Of all my 35 years supporting Slough Town this has to have been one the best weeks. How could we top the impressive plans for a new ground? How about a hard fought 1-0 win at St.Neots in front of the biggest league gate of the season.
Plans for the Rebels new ground are a win-win for everyone. A football club back in the heart of Slough (and thankfully the Slough bus station designer hasn’t been involved in the plans) with extra sporting facilities for everyone and academy football for up and coming youngsters.
It won’t cost the taxpayer anything either as the housing developer will be building the ground from the profits of the sale and rent of its houses.
When I was at the exhibition with my mum one irate neighbour was ranting at anything and everything. But as I tried to tell her, Brighton’s new ground has been the best thing that has happened to my estate, bringing jobs, training and their fantastic community work in the shed load. Sure Arbour Park has a 2,000 capacity rather than 22,000 but she shouldn’t fear a new ground but embrace it, and realize that a thriving community facility is good for everyone. Certaintly better than a gated one where everyone only cares about themselves and their poxy house prices. Or another religious school segregating our children. Because in such a diverse town like Slough bringing the community together through football has got to be a good thing.
An example of this community spirit was our annual weekend away which handily happened to be St.Neots this time round. I don’t think we could have met a friendly bunch of fans before, during and after the game. It encapsulated everything I love about non league football. We even had a few drinks with their manager the night before the match. On an early spring day as kick off was delayed for 10 minutes because of the thousand plus crowd, nearly 200 Slough fans assembled in fine voice. This felt like FA Cup Extra, perhaps the best atmosphere from Slough fans since we were hammered 9-0 at AFC Wimbledon just five years ago and the club were in freefall. Except this time we won and the club has a future.
To add even more cherries to the overflowing cake, this was also the week that a group of residents found out that we can have a go at trying to reopen our estates only pub. With boozers closing at a staggering 2 a day, we had to convince the landlords that we had something different to offer. So we came up with a community co-operative pub with a café. A community hub with decent beer, decent coffee and decent food at an affordable price for one of Brighton’s poorest estates. Owned by the people that drink there without pubcos making us buy their expensive barrels of beer. I reckon that just like supporters run clubs, this will become one of the models for the future if we want to save our pubs. All we got to do now is raise 150 thousand!
It’s amazing what people can achieve when they get together; having the vision, thinking outside the box, coming up with solutions rather than what’s-the-point me-me-me cynicism. And when you do pull off your plans, there’s got to be no better feeling. Well perhaps, apart from sipping my first pint at Arbour Park or in our local pub.

* If you haven’t already done so you’ve got till this Monday 19th to fill in a questionnaire for the new ground
* To find out about plans for our community pub