Football for the fans. Our second set of demands

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.

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.

Tony Attwood

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.

7 Replies to “Football for the fans. Our second set of demands”

  1. Tony,Ref 3pm Saturday kick offs and televised matches as mentioned in the previous article, this is unlikely to happen, because the TV companies won’t want it. Judging by the kind of advertising shown on Sky and BT Sport during matches, their target audiences are generally male and quite young… Lots of beer and betting ads. A large percentage of that target audience is either watching or playing sport at 3pm on a Saturday. I agree that match attendance will probably not be affected by live televised matches but believe the TV companies will be more opposed to it than the football authorities and the former have the clout, unfortunately.

  2. I always felt that Kroenke’s involvement in Arsenal was tied in to the eventual ability of clubs to control their own television rights . I think that’s why he is so happy to stay in the back ground and let his profit roll in that way. After this deal,I can’t see the joint co-operative approach working and I am sure that the oilers and others will try to get a bigger slice of television income from their own worldwide distribution . Should any break up happen I am certain that he is readying to be in position to take advantage .Football has had to decide where it wants to get it’s funding , it seems to have sided with the media and treats match going fans with a contempt . You are right they will continue to switch kick off times until it makes season ticket holding an unaffordable luxury. As long as the seats keep getting filled it’s a bonus but now not a necessity , in America franchises move sometimes 1000’s of miles, I don’t see that happening here (not enough space )but Scudamore et al will get their matches played abroad with elite clubs from a worldwide base . Home football will become the followed game but a number of clubs 2or3 will be missing and those at the top table will protect themselves from ever dropping off. Maybe they will form second tier teams to play domestically. However eventually I can only see it ending in tears.

  3. From the beeb:

    > England 2-0 Lithuania
    > Posted at 20:36

    > Danny Welbeck now has 14 goals for England – as many as Paul Scholes.

    I wonder if this means an increase or decrease in Scholes bitching?

  4. Am still waiting to subscribe directly from the club , the joy of watching all Arsenal games live and paying directly . At present I only watch Arsenal games , and the highlights .
    Am not able to sit myself down to watch any other games in the EPL or the other leagues ,even though I’ve already paid for them.
    Just waiting to ditch my cable operator ! And goodbye to all the Steward Robson wannabes , and all the other clowns on tv .

  5. I think it will be a few years yet before we get carte blanche to view matches on line . I think it likely that a t.v./ computer season ticket for away matches would be a successful seller , it shouldn’t impact on 3pm Saturday matches because we hardly play them .If it were sold purely to club members then it would be a further income stream and would not affect lower league attendances to any great extent.

  6. Hmm… so is this ‘safe’ standing actually safe? Why do the German stadiums encased the ‘safe’ standing hooligans with a 3 metre steel cage to contain their rage, and then a 10 metre nylon curtain to prevent their missiles harming the player?? Take extra care watching the caged area of a Bundesliga match and you soon agree the Taylor Report was correct, there is no place for fences in a civilised world. The Premier League fulfilled this and became the greatest league in the World leaving the Germans in the dark ages. Really Untold should not even contemplate promoting such a repugnant idea as ‘unsafe’ standing.

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