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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019


Printed in the National League South Division game v Gloucester City Tuesday 12th February 2019. We lost 2-1 in front of 463 people.
What person in their right mind would buy a football club? With so many clubs flying close to the wind the sugar daddies don't seem to be queuing up like they used too. It's hardly surprising, when the rewards are gambling away a fortune and be given endless abuse for the privilege as you try and grab a slice of the Premier League pie.
The top clubs load the dice so much in their favour – and yet still want more. Like the worlds richest people who recently met in Davos they don't want to be governed like the rest of us, but allowed to do as they please.
Manchester City's Pep Guardiola wants B teams in the football league, because as we can see from the Checkatrade Trophy this has really excited fans of lower league clubs with all sorts of records being broken - for the lowest crowds ever recorded in a competitive match.

I think the reserve league for the young players is not good enough,” Guardiola said. “They compete in these second teams but the consistency is not physically strong. Here, they play with no spectators. I think it’s a real problem for English football. So why can we not create Man City or Man United second team and not play in the Championship against Newcastle? They’d play for the second team of United, City, Tottenham and they compete with Newcastle playing in front of huge [numbers of] fans. That is the future of English football.”

Forgetting for a moment that Newcastle are still a Premier League side, a brilliant article on the Plymouth 'Argyle Life' blog by Nick Saunders Smith pulled his argument to pieces 'At the moment, the b-team debate is academic: the English Football League (EFL) ruled out their introduction back in September 2016. However, the financial muscle of the Premier League must not be underestimated. The promise of financial reward could, one day, persuade enough EFL teams to back the plan, so it’s always worth re-affirming why the argument is not only arrogant, but also utterly wrong.

'It doesn’t matter if a player demonstrates that they can physically compete in the Championship. Top Premier League clubs simple do not care. They have so many young players coming through their academies (players who have swept up from academies all over the country) that if a player isn’t a world beater, they can write them off and move onto the next one. Understand this, Pep: managerial cowardice among the top Premier League clubs – Manchester City and Chelsea in particular – is a far bigger factor than the lack of b-teams. You wouldn’t even start Phil Foden against Burton Albion! A midfield of Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and David Silva? Two World Cup winners against Burton Albion! No wonder Sancho left. No wonder Hudson-Odoi is trying to escape Chelsea. You are the problem, not the lack of b-teams.'

Rather than destroying the football league, maybe those clubs should stop hoarding players like people banic buying before Brexit. As the Plymouth Blog continued 'A main reason why b-teams are appealing to these rich clubs is that they can exploit the system to stockpile players and guarantee them professional game time. It’s just another power-play designed not to progress these players so much as it is to allow them to hoard the best young talent from their rivals and – as Chelsea have done so well – monetise their potential.” The fact that Chelsea are currently waiting to hear from Fifa whether they will be banned from the transfer market after being investigated over potential rule breaches with regard to more than 100 foreign players under the age of 18, says it all. 
Does it have to be like this? 
We need a fairer footballing formula where financial muscle isn't rewarded but footballing ability. Communities build there clubs, not billionaires – and as we can see from a car crash of clubs – Sunderland, Charlton, Blackpool, Coventry, Bolton, Notts County, Hull... - it rarely ends well. As the breath of fresh air that is Accrington Stanley's chairman Andy Holt points out “Every owner outside the Premier League is a rogue owner in waiting. Clubs are not sustainable, it’s just a matter of time before they get sick of throwing money down a black hole.” The average League Two club lost £13,500 every week. Those that made a profit did so by selling players (unlikely to be repeated every year) or other assets. 
Clubs like Slough Town are so far from the top end of football its almost a different sport. And yet even here, where we are enjoying success both on and off the field beyond our wildest dreams from a few years back, people complain. I suppose that's human nature, but that where's I love the attitude of the Accrington Stanley chairman whose let's supporters know the real cost of running a football club. So should Slough take the lead and publish how much we earn from the gate receipts, the bar, sponsorship, the golden goal? Then ask supporters do they want to gamble and bankrupt the club?
But as Andy Holt talking sense once again 'The general consensus amongst owners is that it’s their club, they should be able to spend what they want on it. I couldn’t disagree more. Overspending damages most clubs. It makes not overspending a massive disadvantage. The rules around spending are next to useless... It's not my club. I can't pick it up and take it home. There were 20 or 30 people before me. They were just custodians. I want Accrington to be here in 50 years time.' No wonder the club that refused to die is punching so far above its weight and is quickly becoming everyone's favourite second team.


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