This continues our list of requirements to make football better for the fans, rather than better for everyone else. Part one is here.
6. Reducing the number of internationals.
This is obvious – but in fact the reverse is happening – the old friendlies are about to be replaced by yet another mindlessly conceived competition.
We would also like to see proper and full compensation paid by all countries for player injuries suffered while on international “duty”.
The country doctors could check the players first, send them home if they find any condition that could be exacerbated, and then give the remainder a clean bill of health. Any injury thereafter is the country’s fault, and they pay the player’s wages, and compensation to the club, until he is fit again.
7. Introduce a maximum salary spend per club so that some of the TV money can be used to keep prices down.
The problem with a lot of the campaigns for cheaper seats in the stadia is that the campaigns don’t incorporate any route to achieve this as fans ask for more and more transfers in of more and more expensive players, but cheaper seats at the same time.
The fact is that most of the money that comes into the clubs goes on higher salaries. If the club gets more money, it spends more money on wages. Only a salary cap would stop this.
8. Introduce a video referee system to check the important decisions like goals and penalties.
This is so obviously necessary, and so obviously wanted, that the fact that Fifa and Uefa are not introducing it is enough, by itself, to show that something is very seriously wrong with world football. All we have to do is ask, “why don’t Fifa want this?” and some very unpalatable answers crop up.
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Belgium and Holland are really wanting to go further with implementing it and will keep on asking Fifa and Fiba to allow it, but they keep pushing it away.
How crazy do you want football authorities to be? Whatever you imagine, they are going beyond it, and even Untold is pushed to understand quite why Fifa is against such reform – unless they too know that there is something wrong with refereeing in some countries.
9. Introduce a low cost system for all supporters to view each match in a legal way on the internet by using a pay per view system
We’ve already asked for games to be played on Saturday afternoons. The extension of this is that football should introduce a low cost system for all fans to view each match.
Now that would affect Sky and BT Sport, and they are going to fight against it. But really, why should we place football at the mercy of the TV channels?
Because (it is answered) the TV Channels pay the billions of pounds that keeps football going. But if we had a salary cap so the money wasn’t needed, then it wouldn’t matter.
Put another way around – who runs football?
- The fans
- The TV stations
- Fifa, the FA, Uefa
- The players
- The clubs
You might put the second to fifth item on that list in a different order from us, but the chances are no one is going to say “the fans run football”. Of course we don’t. We’re irrelevant.
10. The overthrow of Fifa.
While we are asking for the moon, how about a complete overhaul of FIFA (creating instead a council with representatives from national associations, leagues, and fans) to run things.
And as a bonus…
Safe standing areas in stadia with costs met from TV money. Even if we reduce TV money by having games played at reasonable times and available on the internet there still ought to be something left to create safe standing.
So what does all that tell us?
The fact that Walter, Blacksheep and I could come up with such a list of demands so quickly, and the fact that it is such a widespread list, tells us just what is wrong with football.
Football can be played at 3am inside an empty stadia with police all around in case any fans get in, but that is not the football that a bunch of workers from the Royal Arsenal ordnance factories wanted to be involved in.
I doubt, from what we know, if there were any spectators for the Dial Square v Eastern Wanderers game in December 1886, but we do know that by the sixth game of the club (5 February 1887) there was an estimated crowd of 600.
That tells us something. After being in existence for about eight weeks, a game against the local rivals could attract a crowd of 600. Doesn’t that say something?
Football fans have always been treated by football authorities with contempt, and as a result the game has moved into a position in which it is far further removed from what we want, than ever before.
Yes, of course we enjoy the comfort and excellent views that we get from within the Emirates. And yes we were all really, really taken by the superb way in which disabled supporters are treated by Arsenal FC.
But that can’t hide the fact that things have gone totally wrong – and we need to be careful. Because unless something changes soon, fans are going to be an irrelevance to the clubs for whom TV money is the main thing.
There is an article on the Arsenal history site relating to the match at Highbury on 6 April 1974. The commentary notes a report in the Observer newspaper which said that evening TV coverage of matches was “turning humdrum games into exciting affairs through skilful editing and hyped commentary in order to keep the TV audiences up.”
It was quite probably the first time such an accusation was made – and it was undoubtedly true. And today it is even more true.
We are losing our football, and if we don’t do something about it soon, it will be gone forever.
Footnote: As I’ve written up these two articles, they undoubtedly have been pushed in the direction of the sorts of reforms that I want to see. So, please don’t treat this as a declaration that Walter and Blacksheep both signed up to – but we did seem to be pretty much in agreement with most of this when we talked it through.
Anniversary of the day
27 March 1971: Tottenham v Arsenal was originally scheduled for this day, but moved to the end of the season due to FA Cup – a decision that led to the eternally famous final match at White Hart Lane.