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October 2016
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What is wrong with football? What is wrong with football supporters?

By Blacksheep

As Tony and I made our way back from the recent AISA agm we started to discuss some of the issues raised by the meeting and this led into a rather more wide ranging debate about the state of modern football. I have to admit that I have a tendency to ‘go off on one’ (to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare) but Tony suggested I write some of these thoughts down as a post for Untold.

Perhaps he thought it would be cathartic (perhaps he just wanted to shut me up before we missed our tube stop – again!) but whatever the reason here goes…

One of the items on AISA’s agenda was sexism in football and we had a panel that included the Arsenal and England footballer Faye White and Anna Kessel, who co-founded Women in Football.

It is quite ridiculous that in 2015 we still have to campaign for equality in society and an end to sexism. Much of it is dismissed as ‘banter’ and women are seemingly expected to laugh it off when hundreds of football fans chant ‘get your tits out for the lads’ or similar.

Worse still is the abuse aimed at female referees like Sian Massey or women who have the audacity to think they can commentate on MALE football matches. And don’t get me started on the Eva Carneiro affair and some of the comments and images that have been produced in the wake of Mourinho’s treatment of her.

It’s the 21st century chaps so can we all please just grow up? Is it really necessary to chant things about the current Tottenham manager’s wife/mother/girlfriend?

On a quite different tack I can get quite agitated about the ways in which the wealthy clubs in European football feel they can simply ignore any of the rules or attempts to make the game more equitable. FFP is dead in the water and presumably because the money men that own clubs like (and I’m sorry City, Chelsea and other fans but this has to be said) Chelsea, Manchester City want to be. They don’t want a level playing field and NO ONE seems prepared to take them on.

I love Arsenal but do not want us to go that way – nor is it exciting to see little Bournemouth rise up the leagues if that rise is the result of financial doping (I’m not saying it is, I just prefer the days when Wimbledon emerged on the back of fan power and bloody hard work).

The Premiership and Champion’s League will be won by the team with the most money, because they have the most expensive footballers. Is that ok? I don’t think it is.

While I’m about it how can it be right for Chelsea to have 33 players out on loan? Surely there has to be a limit? How does the FA’s new initiative to improve the England team square with clubs having huge squads where many players never get to play for the club they joined?

I could go (and on) but I’ll leave it there for the moment. As many articles have already outlined there are considerable problems with football at the moment and I think the only way to address this is for supporters to come together.

This happens in a way with the Fans Forum but we need a bigger more inclusive movement. When we play opposition teams we snarl and chant songs about them, and in the confines of a football match I am comfortable with that (so long as its not racist, sexist or homophobic) but outside the ground we need to put our differences behind us and look at what unites us.

Untold is an ideal place to start this discussion because it is less tribal and self-obsessed than many sites out there (Arsenal of otherwise).

The revolution starts here.

  • @UntoldArsenal on Twitter

Anniversaries (more on the home page)

17 September 2000: Nigel Winterburn joined West Ham.  He had played 440 league games for Arsenal and scored eight goals and went on to play 82 more for WHU, making an incredible career league total of 687 games.

17 September 2003: Arsenal lost 0-3 to Inter Milan in the Champions League, despite suffering no defeats in the league all season.

The Untold Books



14 comments to What is wrong with football? What is wrong with football supporters?

  • Pete

    Blacksheep – Re fans coming together, isn’t that what the FSF is supposed to do? I would be interested to know if you think they are failing in any way, or whether there is a better way to achieve the various goals of the spectator community, including things like (in no particular order):

    – Discrimination
    – Kick Off times
    – Ticket Prices
    – Violence and abuse (incl flares)
    – Safety and comfort
    – An uneven playing field due to financial doping
    – Opacity in the footballing corridors of power (so including things like PGMO).

    …and many more that I have overlooked.

  • blacksheep63

    I don’t they are failing Pete, not at all. But I don’t think they have the media impact they need to make a difference yet. Grassroots change – as in politics – needs direction (and FSF can certainly provide that) but it needs mass appeal and media coverage. Tony’s analysis of the media and football this summer (and previously) shows that for most part they address a completely different (and often spurious) set of objectives.
    WE need to set the media debate

  • nicky

    I think the country’s morals
    seriously declined during WW2 and have never recovered.
    The reason?
    The yearning for a vastly improved standard of living and a love for material things has overtaken virtually everything.
    Tribal devotion to a football team and outright hatred of others, particularly the near neighbour, is now the norm of many and the
    hostility required of our nation towards our enemies during the War now appears to involve the sporting scene, particularly professional football.
    Whether normality will ever be regained is very debateable because sadly there is little incentive for change.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Think top level football is a microcosm of many …maybe even most of societies ills.
    I know a few people who have become disenchanted and switchd to lower league, or non league.
    I also prefer the way Arsenal are going, though better than many, Arsenal as a club are not perfect either.
    Football, if things dont change,could be heading the way of Formula 1, sterile, bland, predictable. The European Super league will soon be upon us, key games might take place in the football heartlands that are the Arab Emirates. Still think much of Arsenals strategy is to hang on where they are and ensure they are part of this league if/when it comes, but others may ot share that view!
    A real shame about FFP, but things implemented by buffoons cannot always be expected to work

  • Dazza64

    Nice article Blacksheep
    Nicky…That’s an interesting hypothesis.
    Why do you think WW2 was the period when morals declined as opposed WW1 or the Depression of the 1920’s?
    Why is football the vehicle rather than other professional sports?
    The hostility at football matches today on a scale of is a 2 compared to the 70’s and 80’s when it was a 10/10. Mind you I have been to a few Eng v Wales rugby matches that have gotten feisty.
    I do agree re it’s a material world.
    We live in a world of instant communication and instant satisfaction:
    where anyone can broadcast their thoughts to the world (anonymously),
    fame can be accessed in a “reality” or “talent” show (or football team if you have the money)
    it’s cheaper to buy a “new one” than fix the “old one”
    The AAA and “Spend Some Money” brigade are an example of this desire for instant gratification: whatever you want, whenever you want it, you can have it now without getting off the sofa just point & click e.g. We need a WC striker, we need a DM, we need a new manager. All fed by a click hungry media to paraphrase Pink Floyd “we’ll tell you what to dream”

    Football can be a myopic business that ignores the lessons learnt in other sports e.g. technology to aid officials and the paying public- Cricket, Tennis, Rugby, NFL.

    I am in favour of a debate exploring how a Salary Cap across Europe could level the field, recently the Dallas Cowboys NFL team was valued as the world’s richest sport franchise at $4BN dollars yet haven’t won the Superbowl since 1995 – interestingly Real Madrid is rated 2nd.

  • Pete

    I can’t comment on pre/post-war collective aspirations but I do know that the 70s were a lot more violent than the 80s on the terraces. By the early 80s the authorities were getting their act together and violence was on the decline (although the policing was not exactly delicate).

    In the 70s, many London derbies involved the away team’s fans trying to take the home team’s end. Certainly those involving Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham and Arsenal. But this declined over time and violence was, in my opinion, significantly down by the mid-80s. I think that a few high-profile incidents in the 80s (where violence was much more publicised in the media – even then they were setting the agenda!) has altered peoples’ perceptions. E.g. Heysel. But the 70s was very violent!

  • Pete

    Blacksheep – I am not quite sure what you are advocating?

    The FSF has had limited success (but some very clear successes nonetheless – e.g the fan embassies at major tournaments), and is certainly only supported by a small minority of fans (I bet the majority don’t even know who they are) but it IS a unified national supporters organisation and it DOES broadly support the goals that you set out in your article.

    It would be fantastic if they had a lot greater media profile and support – but how can that be achieved?

  • nicky

    As the standard of living bettered, the materialistic view increased and began to dominate with it.
    It’s a natural progression I’m afraid.
    Every person in the so-called civilised World cannot fail to notice the material possessions he/she owns and enjoys, now, compared with (say) x years ago.
    And on a slightly different note, in the 1930’s my brother and I progressed quite naturally via Sunday School into the local parish Church choir.
    In the 1960’s and 70’s, no matter how I tried, I could not persuade my own children to follow a similar path.
    Because with the improved standard of living there were, by now, far too many distractions to provide an interest for young minds.

  • Mandy Dodd

    The 70s and 80s did have their share of tribal violence, of course not all of it linked to football. A lot of racism mixed in as well, as a teenager, I especially remember a few people coming a cropper with their local far right Chelsea thugs (and I am aware, it was not just the far right involved in football violence). But those I know who regularly attended during that era….most of whom were not involved in the negative side…do tell me the game was more enjoyable back then with standing, singing, crowds near the pitch, no oilers……….all opinion I suppose

  • Pete

    Mandy – a different world!

    I think the great thing about those days was that there was far less predictability. I remember Forest winning the League the year after being promoted (and Derby earlier). I remember Ipswich and QPR coming 2nd. And the FA Cup was won by plenty of teams. Plenty of English teams got to European finals too: Liverpool, Forest and Villa all won the big one, while numerous teams got to UEFA and Cup Winners finals – and in days when they meant something too.

    The Top 6, and the approximate order they finish in, is very boringly predictable.

    However the quality of football today is infinitely better. I remember watching a rerun (extended highlights) of the 79 Cup Final on a plane once. I couldn’t believe how slow the game was, how few passes were strung together by each team before possession was lost, and how few foreign players there were on the pitch (I think none from outside the British Isles).

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree on all points Pete, much less predictable pre dopers! Ok, Liverpool had a lot their way, but not exclusively.
    But the quality of players and play, and the pitches are much better now. That said, would have loved to have seen some of the mavericks, not just Best, but the Hudsons, Bowles, Robin Fridays, and from what I am told, the Graham French’s of this world. Limited careers, too much booze, and with one of those, too much shooting people but sound like incredible talents

  • Pete

    Saw Hudson on the pitch at half time on Saturday against Stoke. Pleasantly surprised he is still in one piece after his car accident and “refreshment issues”! They were all mavericks, but probably the most extreme was Frank Worthington. See he is now 66 – and played until he was around 43!

  • porter

    Saw Matthews and Finney at that time there was an appreciation of other teams players. It seemed to change after rules were changed for United following Munich and their dynasty was born. Law,Best and Charlton were a pleasure to watch as were the (I hate saying it ) Nicholson’s double team.Then along came Revie and his dirty Leeds team violence on and off the pitch the hatchet man was born and English football has never recovered and never will whilst power is preferred to skill.

  • syd

    I will try not to assume or figure out anyone’s thought’s but I am now 50 and have travelled far watching the only love that has treated me abysmally given me so much pleasure and then made me so mad that ………
    Well you know
    So many love’s have come gone and come back into my life but none that have ever hurt me as much has stayed in my heart for so long and none will come that close again …… will they ? My family are great but they only annoy me at best and only see me when they want money !!! Oh so does the love of my life about half a million I reckon if I go for a divorce can I get some of it back ?
    Anyway I don’t know about you lot but the far right and far left and football thugs and anyone else you wish to mention can go you know what I only care about my greatest love affair ever The Arsenal ! Am I a sad git ? Maybe but I am happy god bless and good night