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Football supporters everywhere were shocked and saddened when on the 27th August Bury FC were expelled from the EFL. A 134 year old institution gone. Generations of fans left without the cornerstone of their community that so many of us take for granted.
Football fans often revel in the tribalism of our game but the deep love we have for our own club serves to strengthen solidarity when a crisis emerges. In the past couple of days there has been an outpouring of compassion, empathy and sorrow from hundreds of thousands of fans across the country and throughout the leagues.
This weekend be grateful that your club has a game to play, that you can continue your matchday rituals with friends and family, like every other Saturday. Soak up the experience and appreciate it… and on the 27th minute, the Football Supporters Association is calling for supporters everywhere to applaud for one minute in a nationwide display of solidarity with Bury fans.
Why a minute of applause on the 27th minute? Because on 27th August a football club was expelled from the league for the first time in 27 years. Let’s show that we care and we are angry that this situation has been allowed to happen.
The FSA is lobbying hard to protect our clubs from unscrupulous or incompetent owners – conflicts of interest have to be removed as owners have shown they cannot regulate themselves and our clubs deserve special protections more in line with those afforded to listed buildings. Football clubs are not just another business.
We’ll need the support of fans across the game for that campaign in the weeks and months ahead, but for this weekend, let’s start by showing supporter solidarity with Bury fans on the 27th minute.
Football Supporters’ Association
I’m not sure if anyone has made this suggestion, and I can’t work out exactly how it will go down. I wonder if any Premier League club owners have given any consideration to purchasing a lower league club to be run in conjunction with their current team? There could surely be some benefits in terms of youth development?
For example, if the Man City owners were to purchase Bury FC (prior to their expulsion from the EFL). They would own another club that was geographically very close to them. They could undertake a restructure of their coaching and playing philosophies to match their own. Each year they could send talented players from their youth set up to get first team exposure nearby, under the watchful eyes of coaches on their payroll. The benefits for the players playing regular first team football, albeit in a lower league, would surely make such an arrangement worthwhile?
I don’t know how it would sit with the fans of the club knowing that they were essentially a feeder club, but they would have the benefits of having improved coaching at their club and also financial stability? I wonder whether the Bury fans would take an arrangement like this over their current situation.
I’m sure there are reasons why this sort of thing couldn’t happen, but it would be interesting to see it play out.
There is hope
With all this talk of how terrible it is with established clubs going out of business. I just thought I should share my positive experiences of losing your club. Chester had problems. In our final season, the fans invaded the pitch and had a match abandoned, so upset were they, and we were winning! The club was in dire financial problems and the fans knew our days were numbered. In fact the phoenix club was pretty much set up before the old club was wound up in 2010. Founded in 1885 but only joining the league in 1931, it was an established club. Even if not a very good one, usually near the foot of the football league. Still we gave the world Ian Rush so it’s not all bad. Because the fans started early Chester was reformed, the local council leased back the old ground and the club didn’t miss a season.
After an appeal we ended up in the Northern Premier. We were too good for those smaller clubs and went straight up. I remember going to see them at North Ferriby United around that time, a club near where I lived at the time. It was a Wednesday night fixture and a two hour drive around rush hour Manchester to get there but the attendance was around 600 and 550 were Chester fans. For those first two years every away game Chester had was the attendance record of the season for the home club. More money for the lower leagues can’t be bad. We got back to the conference and the Fan owned club was a happy place, a well run club.
Or so we thought, despite the fans raising money for the manager to have a transfer kitty, it turned out the Financial Director didn’t know what he was doing and we were in the mire. the club had to service a short term £50k debt in 2017 and proceeded to sell any player on a contract and pretty much terminate the contracts of the players they couldn’t sell. Naturally the fans came good and while the club got relegated, we survived to see another day. After what happened in 2010, you’d think we’d never be there again. After a fairly uneventful 2018/19 season with no expectations and a bunch of youngsters, 2019 has started really well and unbeaten and totally unexpected. It’s just nice to have a club although living in the South I don’t get to see them down here much.
In the business world, companies go under all the time, even those with regular customers. Bad decisions lead to debt liabilities and eventually these cripple a company and the same happens to football clubs. FFP and other ideas won’t limit it. Eventually even governments learn that sometimes the healthiest thing is to let companies go out of business rather than bail them out. In Bury there is still a demand to watch the local football team and a stadium that might need a bit of fixing up but needs to be used. The new Bury FC will be unsaddled by debt and a fool of an owner. It might be in the lower leagues and to a poor standard of football for a while but that can be a different kind of fun and if they continue to get the crowds they did in the past then they’ll get back to where they were. Ultimately in the lower leagues a cup run or selling a young star might get you a windfall but the trick to a sustainable club is to manage your revenue and that is determined by attendances. It levels out in the premier league a bit with the TV money but for the rest of us, we know our place.
This really could be the best thing for Bury. We might be two leagues further down than we were in 2010 but we’ll be back.
Having just read Eric Cantona’s latest bit of unexpected philosophy, it seemed like a good topic for a Friday mailbox to try to guess what he might have meant by it all.
I was reminded of Seb Stafford-Bloor’s article on Alexis Sanchez being run into the ground – is he applying the King Lear quote to the ‘gods’ of football – UEFA and FIFA – ‘killing’ players by cramming too many fixtures into the calendar?
The next sentence, about science making humans eternal, actually mirrors something that nature has already achieved, in the ‘immortal jellyfish’ (turritopsis dohrnii) – the Wikipedia summary of its biology is worth five minutes of a Friday afternoon at work, if you’re into weird animals. (Also check out the gympie-gympie plant while you’re there, it’s horrific and therefore great.)
But assuming he didn’t mean that humans will turn into jellyfish, was Eric rueing the state of the world at the moment – “Only accidents, crimes, wars, will still kill us but unfortunately, crimes, wars, will multiply” – where science and medicine are advancing at amazing rates but political strife takes precedence over getting medicine to the people who need it and science to those who would use it for the best purposes?
Who knows. He’s got one of those voices where he could read out the ingredients from a packet of Monster Munch and it would still sound cool and profound, so maybe he was just talking cobblers.
Dan, (tbf, people are still debating what the seagulls line meant, 20-odd years later) Brighton
I’m sure you’ll get a lot of emails about the champions League draw. I’ve already seen lots of comments…. Some relief with ‘good’ draws. Some complaints at how easy City have got it.
Just a quick thought, personally, I like the big games. I wanted Real Madrid or Dortmund. Is that not the whole point of European football? Play the big teams, in the big games, at the best stadia. Liverpool’s wins over PSG, Bayern and Barca last year were so much fun precisely because of the opposition.
Anyone thankful of a ‘good’ draw doesn’t get football.
So we are back in the Champions League and with all the fears of a potential “Group of Death” as most fans understandably worry about we have been drawn against Ajax, Valencia and Lille.
Now I won’t get arrogant because no Champions League Group is a walk over group, however briefly looking over our opponents such as Ajax and Lille, they have lost a few of their best players in De Ligt and De Jong for Ajax, Pepe, Rafael Leao and Thiago Mendes for Lille so they aren’t quite the forces they were last season, whilst Valencia have hardly been to impressive in their opening few games, but overall all easily beatable teams and quite short travel distances which is always positive, I fully expect us to top our Group.
How about that Barca, Dortmund, Inter and Slavia Prague group? Oooooft!
Mikey, CFC (Can’t wait for those Group F fixtures)
It’s interesting how football clubs are, as Nick Hamblin pointed out yesterday, “important parts of communities” – yet just about every other ‘business’ is not; over the last 30 years or so football clubs have become far more ‘business’ than ‘community assets’, I suspect chiefly because they have been bought in some case as rich people’s playthings, and others by local figures who are admirable desperately trying to keep a part of the social fabric alive.
FFP – for which I have long banged the drum that it needs to be enforced equally across the game – is one answer; certainly sports like the NBA work perfectly well with a salary cap and future penalties if it is exceeded. The problem is that a) there are too many clubs who would fall foul of it (according to The Times something like 52 out of 72 Football League clubs lost large chunks of money in the 2017-2018 season); and b) the real problem in a lot of cases is the owners who were laughingly deemed “fit and proper”. It’s clearly not possible to retrospectively apply more stringent rules now, since a number of owners would be kicked out and the clubs would go to the wall – there simply aren’t enough people willing to part with their money to save them.
Put simply, the answer is to reorganise the ownership of the game. The relationship between Sky TV and football has brought about much good in terms of improving the stadia, and opening the doors for a number of foreign stars to play here. The Premier League would argue that since it is the brand/product that successfully sells all over the world, it should receive all of the TV and advertising revenue – which it can then mostly pass on to its’ own clubs; it has its’ own refereeing body which has decided in a Brexit fashion that it doesn’t want to follow the UEFA rules so all of the clubs in European competition understand them, but has adapted them in a way that confuses rather than clarifies. The EFL want to be like the Premier League, but don’t have the money – and their recent record with “fit and proper” persons tests is shameful, that a team like Bury were allowed to go under. And the one organisation that is supposed to actually be in charge – the FA – seems largely incapable of doing anything, merely pandering to the Premier League.
One answer could be to set up a new non-profit organisation which would agree all of the TV and advertising contracts for the game; it would take in all of the money and transparently report on how it is invested in things like grass roots football. It should work in conjunction with the PFA to ensure that players and other staff are paid when the occasion demands – but obviously should not be used as a global-recession style bailout for salubrious owners!
Unfortunately, a number of other issues around are societal and cultural – the sense of entitlement that teams somehow “belong” further up the football pyramid, and the sickening increase of anti-social behaviour such as racism – and there is only so much football as a game can do about it, although there are areas where it could set a much better example.
The interesting thing will be to see what happens once the UK is no longer part of the EU, and what that means for player employment – will we see a return to the pre-Sky days where Serie A and La Liga were the showcase for all the biggest stars ? Sure, it might mean more opportunity for homegrown players – but it’s not going to help them on the world stage if the standard in which they operate on a regular basis is actually poorer…..
I think Seb Stafford Bloor’s article is timely, apposite and potentially alarming. I’m an often-unreasonable, life-long Chelsea fan so I always know that if Chelsea lose then the ref must have been paid off. So I look at Chelsea news all the time but…..I rarely look at official site news because I know that what I will get will usually be bland (although Pat Nevin is intelligent). I look at unlikely sources for particular comment. However, Stafford Bloor made me think. Deliberate bias hadn’t occurred to me. Inanity, stupidity and self-contradiction of course, as your Media Watch articles well illustrate. But deliberate manipulation……?
In a sense, media manipulation is all around so why not? What I can’t get my head round for the moment is how do manipulators generate a profit? When I think of manipulation I take the Watergate line: follow the money: but I find the trail difficult here. There certainly can be an effect because The Merseyside shunning of The Sun has been linked to a greater than expected pro-EU vote in that area in EU the referendum: fewer people receptive to the anti-Eu propaganda in The Sun. So Seb certainly has a point. But…..how can/do the manipulators use (unreasonable) club allegiance for their financial or political gain in national media? In local media they could do it with total positive coverage where there is only one club but where two fiercely competitive clubs reside….? Do north east newspapers have separate editions for Newcastle, Middlesborough and Sunderland? I don’t know but I’m sure the manipulators will be working on it, just not sure how it can work. But it’s made me think, which is what good journalism should do.
Ian (CFC) Hugo
Here we go then:Southampton 2 – 1 Man Utd
Man Utd defence is still rubbish even after $80M slab is put in place, Hasenhutl is auditioning for Ole’s job in this one
C Palace 0 – 1 Aston Villa
Palace are crap at home and Villa proved away to Sp*rs they can do a good job away from home
Chelsea 2 – 2 Sheff Utd
Chelsea will score lots of goals but can’t always outscore the opposition, Utd would be feeling like they have a chance in this one and can score away from home, Chelsea will ship goals this year
Leicester 3 – 1 AFC Bournemouth
Bournemouth are crap away and Leicester are very solid at home
Man City 4 – 1 Brighton
As you were 🙁
Newcastle 0 – 2 Watford
Newcastle will struggle at home against everyone because of the way they play, Watford are a good team and now have Dat man fit
West Ham 2 – 2 Norwich
West Ham are still to flaky at home and Norwich showed away at pool that they are a good team with an in form striker to boot
Burnley 1 – 3 Liverpool
I want to see Dyche cry, the moany git! Won’t be a single dive or foul by the other team but on he moans while his team are a bunch of sh*thouses – what a moron!
Arsenal 3 – 0 S*urs
Spurs are weak on the wings and in midfield, Harry Hotspur thinks he can do every ones job so will spend most of time in midfield diving. We are better than you again – didn’t take long did it
Thoughts with the Enriques
Really sad to hear about Luis Enrique’s 9 year old daughter passing. As someone who has lost a child I can fully understand what this man and his family will be going through, my heart goes out to them.
We love you, Peter G
Pretty amazing that with all the ‘bad’ you see in people these days, I’m sure there are hundreds, if not thousands of readers who only want to wish a person that they’ve never met, let alone seen before, to “Get Well Soon”. The power of the F365 mailbox; I feel like I’ve known this man for years. Wishing you a speedy recovery Peter G, and looking forward to your first concise mail back!
Henry Innes AFC
Sorry to hear about Peter Gs health problems and glad to hear he is on the mend. He is part of my and I’m sure many people’s Monday mornings on here. My F365 Monday morning is always 16 conclusions from the Sunday game, winners and losers, and the mailbox, which always ends with a nice non league email from Ed and a “Weekend thoughts from Peter G.” When he started writing a few articles on here as well, I always found them a good read. Hope to be reading you again soon Peter.