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Published on June 6th, 2014 | by Bill

Drinking to Forget

This article was written for STAND by the prolific Tom Reed, for more from Tom, check him out on twitter here.

With the World Cup less than a week away its time for fans to rid ourselves of modern football’s sour taste with crates of supermarket special lager. Forget the FIFA bribery scandal; forget the child prostitution in the shadows of the stadia, the anti-Copa do Mundo riots in the favelas. Forget and deny being the watchwords at home and abroad.

When it is left to advertisers to reveal the inherent contradictions of British football you have serious problems. First came the Barclays Premier League advert harking back to pre-Thatcher communal values and now Vauxhall have revealed their World Cup ad with its lost England. You may have seen it; neighbours standing shoulder to shoulder in the street; workers together in the car factory at full capacity, a sixties tower block with its thriving community piling into the pub, fan power out in the open.

“You are football” say Barclays, yet the F.A Commission shunned the Football Supporters’ Federation and Supporters Direct with combined memberships of over a million.  “Football without fans is nothing” is the accepted maxim of sponsors, politicians and supporters yet is somehow lost on the tiny cabal of unrepresentative elites who have weedled themselves into positions of power.

They made a rod for their own back by guiding the chattering classes to their over-priced seats while at the same time denying them any say. Flush the sport with cash and fans will turn a blind eye; ignore the fact that only one of six sides can win the top silverware; forget the billion pound debt mountain in the Championship; fraudster owned clubs, the Sky Blues ripped from their city; the inflated ticket prices; the gambling rings, the trampling on the grass roots. It was never going to last

Marx looked to a dialectical collision yet modern socialists are confused by a capitalist system which is crumpling in on itself. It’s the same with football as fans are told they own the sport by international banks and can see the salient issues yet are shunned by the Premier League, its two- man board and the F.A, which considers Oxford and Cambridge Universities as relevant voices. Political activists might not be able to tackle capitalism but fans can fix football.

We’re told that the likes of Richard Scudamore and Greg Dyke are arch politicians and if so they must realise they are in trouble. B-teams and League Three won’t inform the zeitgeist of future football in the U.K, nor will the power six clubs being whored across the world. Want to know how to clear a room full of Premier League and F.A suits? Mention fan ownership and safe standing. Both are coming, not only as popular measures that democratise the sport from the terrace up but also to save football from itself.

If Dyke and Scudamore had any sense they’d let the Football Supporters’ Federation and Supporters Direct in now. With the upcoming Supporters Summit on July 26th and plans for a comprehensive manifesto for football with cross-party backing they might find themselves side-lined or worse exposed as media operators, operating in the void of a price inelastic sport with fan empowerment suppressed, appointed to finesse the globalisation of English football, screwed up at home. You don’t see the F.A, Premier and Football Leagues hire many trade unionists for their ability to strike a deal for the paying public.

It may be better to accept reasonable reform now than have the mediocrity, inequality and mismanagement of the sport exposed further down the line. Better that than have fans wander round the institutionally insulated Premier League H.Q (see sexism) and the geographically isolated elite centre St Georges Park like Ukrainians roamed around their abandoned presidential palace, they might bump into Aidy Boothroyd. The Premier League boasts £2.5 billion revenues and The F.A finds money for full size Wembley replica pitches in the Burton countryside yet do little to nurture the fan empowered community values that Barclay’s and Vauxhall buy into while spending on grass roots football drops like a stone. (What happened to Luton Town, once supported by Vauxhall’s good wages anyway?)

Fifteen bottles of Bud for eight quid at Sainsbury’s, drink up.

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