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, September 16, 2012

JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS


Printed in the FA Trophy preliminary round game v Hungerford Town Sunday 16th September 2012. We won 2-1

After reading ‘Jumpers for Goalposts’ I wondered what’s the difference from supporting a top Premiership club and cheering on your local bank?
Of course there’s nothing particularly new in saying how football has only one thing on its mind, but to have page after page of stats and quotes put together so well that you don’t know whether to laugh or cry; well you’d hope that after reading it those that support the top teams would be flushing their new replica shirt down the loo.
Except football fans are as the book puts it ‘the marketing mans wet dream.’ It has become the most one sided relationship, tantamount to abuse or as the authors put it being ‘trapped in a loveless marriage with little in common…Football supporters have become, first and foremost, revenue.’
‘The Premier League website boasts that it is the ‘worlds most watched league and the most lucrative.’ Since when did either of these matter? It’s like boasting how much you earn or how many followers you have on twitter. The X Factor gets an audience of more than ten million people every Saturday for four months of the year, but that doesn’t mean they’re not watching the music industry gone wrong.’
And as the Guardians David Lacey wrote ‘Some dictionaries define a league as “an association of sporting clubs that organizes matches between member teams of a similar standard. If this is the case then the Premier League offends the Trade Descriptions Act on an annual basis.’ 
Of course bigging up the brand, the Premier League and Sky has to shout continually about just how great they are which as the authors write ‘looks very much like the excessively loud assertion of the chronically insecure.”
The same old clubs win it with the rest just happy to be invited to the party sitting in the kitchen sipping their shandy while a few pop the champagne corks. The top clubs buy up the best players stopping any chance of others breaking into the elite (unless you’ve got a billionaire backer). Infact we’ve now got to the situation where the top two buy up players from the club who finished third! The Champions League cements this financial apartheid, bending over backwards to make sure the bigger teams don’t go out too early. And when they occasionally lose, boy do we get an earful of their woes and how it’s just not fair.
This isn’t helped by Sky Sports News clinging on to their every word, which the authors describe as ‘silently rotting your brain. On transfer deadline day, even the most inconsequential story is treated as a moon landing. It is so far beyond satire that even Chris Morris would be skeptical about it. It is on deadline day that you get the clearest sense of the year-round disparity between how much there is to say, and the amount of time and space there is in which to say it.’
Tottenham legend Danny Blanchflower once said ‘The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It’s nothing of the kind. The game is about glory. It is about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out to beat the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.’  But as the authors point out ‘Footballs raison d’être has changed so thoroughly that at least as much energy is spent figuring out ways to exploit commercial opportunities as holes in the opposition back four.’
And I want nothing to do with a game which the FA described in their Blueprint for the Future of Football as an ‘integrated leisure experience.’
It also has a welcome pop at fans forums complaining that ‘as in so many walks of life, a gobby minority has ruined it for everyone else.’
So read this book to remind you that you need to meet someone more faithful, and with Non League Day coming up on the 13th October, it’s the perfect opportunity to ditch your whore of a partner and choose instead someone who will appreciate you.
* Jumpers for Goalposts – how football sold its soul’ by Rob Symth and Georgina Turner (Elliott and Thompson)

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