Geoff Kidder, Hilary Salt and Ian Stirling will look at why politicians and big business are showing such interest in the international and domestic game of football, and the effect it's having on both politics and football.
The first football World Cup on the African continent opens in South Africa on Friday 11 June, and whilst Brazil and Spain may be favourites on the pitch, it is events off the pitch that attract most debate. Geoff will introduce this discussion by looking at the state of world football, and how wider social and cultural debates are affecting the tournament. Hilary will focus on the impact big business splashing out on teams like Manchester City is having on the domestic game. Lastly, Ian will use the example of Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) to highlight what some fans are doing to have more control over the teams they support.
Since the 1990s, English football has been awash with money and world class players - delighting fans watching in the stands (well, seats) and on TV. But many observers worry that the ‘obscene’ amounts of money spent on and earned by players is ruining the game, giving super-rich clubs an unfair advantage, and distancing fans from players on film-star wages. Whilst the Premier League probably has far too much power and the FA maybe does not regulate it properly, impacting on the national side, lower league clubs and the grass roots, supporters at clubs like Leeds United relish the prospect of new cash-rich owners spending loadsamoney on the club and players.
It’s plain to see that many think the current ownership model of our sporting institutions is in desperate need of reform - just look at the disenchanted Manchester United fans with their hatred of the Glazers, support for Newton Heath revivalism and green and gold scarves at Old Trafford as a clear sign of a football club disengaged from its supporters. Football and politics certainly can be a potent mix - whether it be IRA chants in Scotland, BNP recruiting on the terraces or ETA in Spain, but should we support politicians using government institutions to give fans a helping hand? When the banking system faced meltdown the politicians stepped in to reorganise it, so should the government intervene in football to do the same?
Perhaps football could serve as a beacon of plenty in tough times, providing a welcome diversion for cash-strapped fans. Some argue that it would be better for clubs to introduce wage caps, rein in greedy players and agents, and cultivate local players who have more in common with the fans. The success of clubs like Liverpool in the 1980s was a source of pride for working class fans facing hard times, but will pride turn to resentment as millionaire players cruise through recession curbed cities in their flash cars? Should fans simply relish the success brought by football being on the front rather than back page, or should today’s megabucks culture in football be shown the red card?
Declared interests: Geoff Kidder supports Bristol City, Hilary Salt and Ian Stirling support Manchester United, Keith McCabe chairing the discussion supports Birmingham City, The Shakespeare Pub is a Manchester City friendly venue, and the Salon coordinator is a Super Leeds fan.
Note: The manager at The Shakespeare Pub has changed his name by Deed Poll to Fabio Capello and all 10 staff to Wayne Rooney for the World Cup.
Geoff Kidder's introduction - click on the Play button:
Hilary Salt's introduction - click on the Play button:
Sorry, but the recorder stopped after Hilary's intro so didn't record Ian's introduction or any of the speakers's comments.
Welcome to Cape Fear, Dan McDougal, The Sun 01 March 2010
David Beckham’s solidarity gesture will not worry the Glazers, Times Online 12 March 2010
Fans group Red Knights delays bid for Manchester United, BBC Online 26 March 2010
Why fan ownership won’t set us free, Duleep Allirajah, spiked online 01 April 2010
FIFA tells S.African musicians to zip it, AFP 09 April 2010
World Cup 2010: Italy Step Up Security Following Terrorist Threats, Salvatore Landolina, goal.com 09-Apr-2010
How World Cup benefits the entire economy, Nikolaus Eberl, Business Day 09 April 2010
World Cup 2010: The Road to South Africa, BBC Online coverage of the competition
Is there a role for politics in football?, Paul McInnes, The Observer Conversation, Guardian 09 April 2010
Marathons: running away from The Race, Dan Travis, spiked online 30 April 2010
Capello player rating website plan postponed, BBC Sport online 11 May 2010
Geoff Kidder's Sports Blog, Geoff Kidder, Culture Wars, ongoing comment on sport and World Cup
Lord Triesman's careless talk shouldn't have cost him his job, by Tessa Mayes, Guardian Comment is Free 18 May 2010
Official - The Queen is a Leeds fan!, on The Scratching Shed, 16 May 2010
Warm welcome for fans as Manchester City fit heated seats, by Deborah Linton, Manchester Evening News 28 May 2010
Manchester bar staff in Rooney name change, BBC News Channel, 01 June 2010