By Tony Attwood
We’ve recently looked at the corruption that has been cited as a major force in football. Not the corruption in terms of bribing the referee or one club bribing another to lose, but the corruption that centres on the key organisations within football.
If you are interested in that aspect of football and have missed our articles here they are
- Why are so many sports administrators corrupt or incompetent or both?
- Wholesale mega corruption in football
- Why is it that the media will not cover the corruption in football?
But there are two other forces that are also changing the shape, style and approach of football in England.
One may well seem very trivial because it has been around for so long – the complete lack of care about the supporters who go to matches by clubs. When Arsenal re-opened itself to supporters after being shut for covid, new search facilities were introduced. They included having supporters queuing on concrete stairs, which is utterly and totally illegal in the UK and horribly dangerous. Following massive complaints by AISA, the supporters’ group of which I am a member, the arrangements were changed, although despite ceaseless complaints no apology that I ever saw was put out to fans.
A club as big as Arsenal should never have allowed an untried unruly group to be in charge of new safety procedures. But they thought everything was running ok because all their monitoring of the safety procedures for fans was done from inside the ground!
We can add to this the variance in kick-off times. I’ve been caught up in this myself in trying to get to Arsenal matches and arrange my life around that. And we’ve all seen it – times for matches are set without any consideration of the fans without any thought about public transport.
This has been going on for years, but it seems to be getting worse with reports telling us that “Everton fans cannot get to Selhurst Park on time for their lunchtime kick-off in London on March 20. Chelsea fans will not be able to get back from Middlesbrough the previous day when their late kick-off at the Riverside is concluded.”
Of course, there are ways around this. Everton it appears are putting on special coaches to help. But the fact they have to do that shows the craziness of the situation and the total lack of interest in everyday fans that the FA and League have. With all the money coming from TV, those of us who go to the ground don’t matter anymore. After all the lockdown showed that games can go on without anyone in the ground, and everyone will still pay to watch on TV.
OK so this is not the same size of an issue as wholesale corruption in football of previous articles, but it is symptomatic of the disease of not caring that has settled over football because the fans really don’t matter. And this opens the door for a third dimension: the rise of the superclub. PSG is opening a new academy in Caerphilly, which if you are not totally geographically challenged you will know is not in France.
What you also might not know is that “Wales is the 15th country PSG has moved into, with 22,000 children attending their sessions, wearing PSG gear, idolising their players and being coached in the ‘PSG way’. By Easter, there will be 20 academies in England and Wales alone, across cities from Manchester to Brighton.” Of course one would expect nothing less given that PSG is operated by Qatari Sports Investments.
And you might recall Qatar when you think about the world cup, and all the stories about the mistreatment of workers. And yes I know this is not a new story for Untold. You might even recall our piece: Bayern, PSG and the FA are implicated in continuing deaths of construction workers in Qatar.
So separating Qatar from bad news is the plan and thus, “What we are trying to achieve is to make Paris St-Germain the coolest brand in the world in sport,” Fabien Allegre, the club’s brand director, is quoted as saying.
As Allegre adds, “Young people can have their team from the UK but also have PSG in their heart. The idea is not to have the kids become fans of PSG first and secondly an English club…. The idea is to propose something different for the kids and for them to care about a second club.”
In the last nine seasons in France PSG have won the league six times, and come second three times. Manchester City with its money from the royal family of Abu Dhabi have five wins and three second places in the last 10 years. So you know what is coming next…
PSG’s own new training ground is being built to include its own school, accommodation for up to 180 young players, a stadium for the women’s team to play in, a vegetable farm.
Corruption, incompetence and not caring, and Qatar’s takeover. The City Group of clubs across the world. The PSG academies across the world. Football is changing forever, and very few people seem to care.