Keep your mails on the protests (or football) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Football is disgusting
What has happened to the beautiful game? I myself have watched football over 30 years now, I have loved every minute of it. Right now? Football is disgusting.
Maybe other fans watch for needle between fans, favourite player or family tradition but I’m somewhat of a purist who loves the sport and competition aspect. I get caught up in the transfer news much like any other fan who loves the club and hairs stand on end when I hear Anfield roar, but there is a gaping hole in my heart where football used to be.
What has football been reduced to? The recent actions of the ESL and the following protests at utd and how both where covered and talked about by media and governing bodies that run the game make me think this is just a scummy tit for tat war that’s all about the money. What has suffered? The actual sport, the game of football.
It has been chipping away at my football loving soul for a number of years now but the recent events have pushed me over the edge. Let me give examples, the introduction of VAR kicked off the point of no return for me as it ruined how football is played and viewed for the fans. I’m not going to get into how many times it’s been wrong and that the league table would look significantly different if it VAR didn’t exist but solely from a spectacle point of view it’s terrible. Then you have the increasing blaise thoughts on diving in our game. We will never see a Roy of the rovers type goal again, hurdling last ditch tackles, round one round two top bag! Crowd goes wild! That’s gone. It’s now, did I feel contact? Go down. Is that the reason why sport was invented? I thought it was more of if you got chopped down to learn to get back up when things get rough or a teammate to help you back up teaching kids the power of working as a team etc., what does football teach now ? Deception? If the going gets tough fake an injury? Do not get confused I’m talking about the sport itself not the outside initiatives because like me I’d say a lot of people tune in for their love of the game.
Now current events, ESL fiasco. The major clubs in the world feel UEFA have been hammering them for years. So much so that they created a new tournament. Within minutes of that releasing there was a torrent of abuse from every media outlet that had a pound to lose in this venture and the new league quashed by fan backlash. Ugly. Then utd fans take matters into their own hands by storming old Trafford and getting a premier league game cancelled ( I’m here to watch football). Watching Gary Neville on sky go on propaganda rants about what’s right and what’s wrong in football. Call me crazy but I want ex players to be on the tv to talk about the match and give me some insight about the match that perhaps my non professional footballing eyes had missed thus giving me a better experience. Not massive rants about whatever they want Stirring up hatred and divisions in order to serve an underlying purpose. Fist pumping fans who broke into the ground, who hurt police officers etc., all on British Sky Broadcasting. Is this what it’s came too?? Then the complete silence from the premier league, the FA and other governing bodies about punishment for these acts as make no mistake they love seeing the Utd owners squirm due to the whole leading of the ESL. It’s all very dirty, I need a shower just thinking about it. The funny thing is we are currently promoting across the world if you don’t like something, wreck the place and hurt people until you get your way. Way to go football!
So in summary football as a sport is all but gone and we are left whatever this is.
Before I go, when people in positions of power ie Gary Neville, where young impressionable passionate lads look up to you as leader of your club and a bit of a spokesman on sky for the English game. When you’re drumming up the anger and the hatred for the Utd board please remember it’s not you that’s going to get arrested in the next couple of days for their part in it and the guys that do are probably guilty of loving their club a bit too much and listening to arseholes like you.
The Old Trafford syrup factory
Akshay Varma asks if he’s allowed to go and riot at the chocolate syrup factory now that they’ve changed the recipe. Can I just check if the company that owns it have been charging him several thousand pounds a year to go to the factory, and have doubled the price of doing so in the last decade, and, despite being the richest chocolate syrup company in the world, the bit of the factory in which he’s allowed to sit is probably dingier than any of the comparable, poorer chocolate syrup company factories? Has he been complaining about the practices of the chocolate syrup company for nearly twenty years, but struggled to balance his contempt for the new ownership with his love for the tradition and taste of the chocolate syrup?
Or does he think the chocolate syrup analogy is a stupid one, that only someone who doesn’t understand that football is a sport played in person, as well as on television, might make?
Dara O’Reilly, London
Societal apathy will be the death of us all
I’d like to thank Matt in Berlin for responding to the ‘gone too far’ brigade. Too many people are happy to fall in line with the absolutely nonsensical idea that protest is ONLY acceptable when it is purely peaceful and unintrusive (and easily ignored). Sergio’s email is a great example of this ridiculous mentality.
“Instead of us talking about the effectiveness of the protests, we are now talking about the unnecessary violence and the resemblance of hooliganism.”
Firstly, you seem to be referring to a major broadcaster as ‘we’. They do not exist to represent you or your interests. They exist to make money. Supporting an action that led to unhappy sponsors is not going to happen. Secondly, most people with a career on television are so far removed from the real world that their opinions on protests and their efficacy are absolutely irrelevant, in the same way that an Eton-educated long-standing beneficiary of the slave trade probably isn’t the person to help the working class populace.
The hand-wringers so concerned about the damage to one of Sky’s cameras might want to remind themselves that this is a multi-billion pound organisation that will experience absolutely no suffering due to that broken camera. Also, damaging property is, in my opinion, very much the thing to do if you’re campaigning against the ownership, just as it is when campaigning against the banks and fossil fuel companies. Stop lining up to defend a machine that doesn’t give a shit about you. Manchester United are not going to financially suffer because of the ‘vandalism’ that occurred.
Take the rich man’s hand out of your arsehole and ask yourself why it is that those media groups owned by billionaires are so happy to demonise people for breaking a window or two? Ask yourself why, if peaceful protest is the only acceptable way, the XR protests were covered so negatively in the media? Or why the government elected to sneak through a law change (under the guise of protecting women and children) that can see sentences of 10 years for peaceful protest? Or why the police physically attacked peacefully protesting women at a candlelit vigil for a murdered woman?
Protest is not quietly and politely expressing your grievance. That time has passed, because those who were supposed to listen decided we were very easy to ignore. It is time to stand up and be counted, and not just when it comes to football. The ‘well that isn’t the right way’ line is little more than a ‘know your place’ from those on high. We live in a country that is making peaceful protest an imprisonable offence. Let’s not talk about the right way. If you’re confronted with draconian dictatorial rules, then your response cannot be tame and timid.
Sadly, it won’t happen. Societal apathy will be the death of us all. And even in the final days, there will be dickheads running around telling us that the billionaires have every right to be disgustingly wealthy and are going to fix it all for everyone any moment now (you know, the same billionaires who are more responsible for the climate crisis than any of us will ever be).
Still, I’m sure you’ll have a great answer when your kids ask you why you didn’t do anything to change the world they will have to live in. “Well they were breaking windows and stuff, and the Daily Mail said they were thugs”.
Ek ruthless like the rest
Was Jaque Talbot’s article about Arsenal intended as satire? After all the wailing and moaning about greedy club owners over the last couple of weeks, he can’t seriously be suggesting that the best solution is to have a different billionaire in charge.
Jaque points out that Man Utd, Chelsea and Abu Dhabi City have each outspent Kroenke’s Arsenal to the tune of over 400 million quid over the last 10 years. But two of those clubs are artificially pumped full of financial steroids, and the third has its fanbase constantly raging about the owners not spending enough. In what sporting sense would it be a good thing if Arsenal had the means to do the same?
I don’t think Daniel Ek became obscenely rich by throwing money at vanity projects – have a look at how much Spotify pays musicians if you really want to know how somebody can become that wealthy by effectively running an internet radio station. He’s a ruthless businessman, just like the rest of them.
Still, maybe if Arsenal roll the dice again, he really will turn out to be another Abramovich. He spends disgusting amounts of money! He goes to the games, or at least he did until it no longer suited his political purpose! Who needs 50+1 when you’ve got a badge-kissing sugar daddy who really loves the club?
Crystal Palace continue to meh their way to the end of the season. While victory over Manchester City was incredibly unlikely, it fitted the blueprint of the last few weeks: had a go for a bit and created a couple of chances that didn’t come to anything, then went behind, shrugged and gave it up as a bad job.
*These are still frustrating times for Palace fans, as our team continues to be a football version of the blank void John Oliver draws attention to at the start of every episode of Last Week Tonight. The Eagles are 11 points clear of Fulham, who have four games remaining. They have not beaten a team who started the game with more points than them all season, something that adds to the hilarity of the win over Manchester United.
*The concerns for fans are that this is not sustainable as a long term strategy. However, it seems more likely that Roy Hodgson will continue with this system forever precisely because it has got us this far, instead of parking it because it is no longer necessary. As a co-commentator said on a televised game a while back, his Plan B is to work harder on Plan A. No credible voices want to see the solid foundation completely eroded, simply an acknowledgement that it isn’t always that solid, and that the team’s fortunes could improve if it was organised around the strengths of its most talented players, Eberechi Eze and Wilfried Zaha. Shackling players of their calibre to a full-back is like giving Claude Monet a tin of Dulux and a roller.
*There is still a lot of uncertainty around the club, with Hodgson and many of his players out of contract this summer. While nothing’s been said, we can idly speculate and produce baseless theories. I think that a decision on Hodgson’s future will be affected by whether or not fans can return to Selhurst Park. If they cannot, it seems likely the club will stick with Hodgson, keep things ticking over, while the frustrations are voiced from afar. If they can, then it would make sense to appoint a new manager, who can be backed by a wave of optimism. At least until the first home game kicks off, anyway.
The Capitol building and Old Trafford
Speaking at Stanford University in August 1967, Martin Luther King said that ‘a riot is the language of the unheard.’ I think we can differentiate a riot from a coup/insurrection (which is what happened in Washington in January) since the latter-
-has an already powerful figure associated with it who will benefit.
-those involved have the prospect of immediately succeeding in their goals.
-the violence is externalized onto people and items they already dislike.
To me, then, there is a big difference between the Capitol building and Old Trafford. These Man Utd fans didn’t think they would be able to seize control of the club, or appoint a figurehead and I certainly don’t think they hate the club and stadium.
The issues King was highlighting are way more important than control of a football club but the quote gives us an insight into why any riot occurs. In this case, fans felt ‘unheard’ despite years of protest through acceptable means.
The question is whether anyone will listen…
Premier League windfall tax
I agree with most comments in the mailbox that real change can only be realistically achieved with Government intervention.
Therefore a windfall tax (say 20% of all TV and sponsorship revenue) on all premiership clubs. That money to be immediately distributed to all remaining clubs in the EFL.
Next year the same, the year after the same. The obscenely large honey pot will have to begin to dry up before any of these people give up their right to ‘print their own money’ from these clubs, for any kind of perceived 50 +1 scheme to become a reality.
If this is the start of a real revolution in football then make it count for EVERY club and not just the one club you happen to support. Treasure the game.
MARK T London
Man Utd aren’t Man City
Mark, you state with confidence that United have 3 options when it comes to the Glazers leaving:
1. You’re stuck with what you’ve got.
2. You replace like with like. Or worse.
3. The owners you hate leave and you tumble down the leagues.
There is a key issue here that you’re missing. Man Utd aren’t Man City. They’re not wholly dependent on their owners for income. They’re a self-sustaining business making buttloads of cash. Option 3 isn’t actually an option, it would more be “The owners leave and United have more money because the leeches aren’t sucking it out”
Man Utd are one of the very few clubs who would benefit for NOT having their billionaire owner.
What to do with the United Liverpool fixture?
There’s a number of options being discussed (and one which isn’t)
1. Cancel the game and award Liverpool the victory. – I think following an event which hell broke loose (in football) because of a perceived attempt to reduce sporting merit that’s a terrible option. No is my answer
2. Move the west brom game to accommodate the United one – no. Neither Liverpool nor west brom caused the problem neither should be accomodating united. United play in Europe? Shame that, nobody said that last season when Liverpool had to play two games in two days on two different continents. Most of the league laughed. No sympathy here I’m afraid. And again, neither Liverpool nor west brom caused the problem.
My solution – united fans caused this issue. Move the fixture to the last game of Liverpool’s season, the fixture is now played at anfield in what will be the only game of the year with fans – and united fans are barred from attending. That seems pretty fair really.
Shades of protest grey
Lots and lots of reactions to the United protests on Sunday and I have taken some time to digest the events and the various viewpoints and opinions.
What I have noticed (and this is not a new thing) is that people require every action, comment, statement or opinion to be absolutely perfect and to not have the slightest contradiction or pre-history which then immediately renders that person / action / statement as compromised.
No single person or movement or action is perfect and never will be. This protest was borne out of the long term frustration at a very flawed ownership and ownership model. Was the protest perfect? Of course not. Was it tainted by the actions of a few pissed morons? Yes it was and it was almost inevitable that it would be.
Can it be used as the starting point of a long journey to bring about change at both United and the wider football world? Hopefully but who knows. I am sure the prominent people within this burgeoning movement will observe and learn lessons and improve the next protest and subsequent campaign.
Mistakes have been made in the past but let’s be honest, not one of us saw the future of football this way when the PL was formed all those years ago. Let’s move forward and learn from the mistakes of the past rather than looking back and sniping and bitching about them. Nobody knows the perfect solution to this mess that we have got ourselves into but I reckon it’s worth exploring the ways to improve the current situation.
Life is shades of grey rather than black and white.
Plato – MUFC