Tag Archives: football

Actually, this having the World Cup in England might be a good idea

I am not a huge football fan. Unless it involves Inverness Caledonian Thistle, I really don’t care and even then it’s more of a spiritual thing. I don’t actually need to watch 22 men kick the bag of wind around the field. But my antipathy to the game wasn’t the only reason my heart sank when I saw the new Liberal Democrat campaign, “Bring the 2018 World Cup to England” this morning.

Certainly, having just had a month of nothing but football anywhere, I was screaming for respite. It’s bad enough on the other side of the world but if

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When is someone going to do something about football culture?

Wembley Stadium photo by Brent FlandersThere’s so much going on in the world at the moment, yet much of the media are obsessed with Luis Suarez. Even Question Time and yesterday’s Radio Scotland’s Big Debate had questions about the Uruguayan player who is now serving a 4 month ban for biting a fellow player in a match the other night.

This is far from the first time that footballers have behaved badly on the pitch. I remember watching in horror as David Beckham was sent off during the 1998 World Cup? …

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Opinion: Time to deliver on safe standing

Saudi football supporterAt Autumn Conference in 2008, the Liberal Democrats passed a motion backing proposals to change the regulations that prevent football stadiums in the Championship and Premier League from providing ‘safe-standing’ areas. The motion called for the Government to:

Replace any regulations requiring spectators to be seated with new regulations clearly setting out standards under which a safe standing area may be licensed.

And

Direct the Football Licensing Authority to prepare suitable guidance under which domestic football clubs, working with their supporters, may introduce safe standing areas.

Fast forward to 2014 and those regulations, …

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As football’s January transfer window closes why not play ‘Ukip Manager’?

Here’s a snippet from Ukip’s 2010 general election manifesto:

“Ukip would place a maximum of three foreign players in the starting line-up, as this would free up places for British players in the youth academies of these teams and spur the future development of home teams.”

As Paul Haydon points out here,

That would force managers to make some pretty tough decisions about who they would keep and who they would give the boot. Where would that leave your favourite team? Who would you keep and who would you send home? Toure or Silva? Negredo or Aguero? Oscar or Hazard?

Well, …

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Opinion: Football, Freedom of Speech and the Y-word

spurs yid armyIn the last few days, the Crown Prosecution Service has taken the decision to charge three Tottenham Hotspur supporters with “using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour”. The charges relate to the use of the word “Yid” by the fans.

The decision to charge the fans should be a cause of major concern to anyone who values freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

For those unaware of the history and context behind the use of the word by Spurs fans, it’s worth a quick …

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LibLink: Paul Marshall – England should run football the German way

A football groundToday is the first day of competitive action in the Premiership. To mark the occasion, The Times has published an article by Paul Marshall, ‘England should run football the German way’.

Paul is well-known in Lib Dem circles as chair of the liberal CentreForum think-tank and co-editor of The Orange Book. He’s also a passionate Manchester United supporter and was one of the so-called ‘Red Knights’ who fought for a supporter-based buy-out of the club. And his article sets out what English football needs to learn …

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Opinion: Is watching football a crime?

London police. Photo courtesy of Louis Kreusel on FlickrBack in March I wrote about the draconian policing methods being employed against Hull City fans. It’s more than a little depressing that, just a few weeks later, another set of football fans have had their civil liberties attacked.

This time it’s Brighton and Hove Albion supporters who were the target of unnecessary and heavy handed restrictions that should send a shudder down the spine of any liberal.

Brighton fans who attended the Play-off match against Crystal Palace were required to carry a separate document which confirmed their identity, and agree to hand over their ticket and identity document for examination by a police officer or steward at the stadium or en route to or from the stadium.

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Saying ‘YES’ to Political Football!

A football groundLiverpool FC’s famous former manager, Bill Shankly, once quipped that football was more important than life itself. To those with little interest in the game, the thrall that 22 men chasing a ball can have upon millions of people must be baffling. But whether it be in the media, the High Street, the school playground or business boardrooms, there can be no question that football is one of the most important social, cultural and commercial forces in Britain today.

British football is plagued by a deeply dysfunctional side, however, which places …

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John Leech tables parliamentary motion about homophobic chants at football matches

Liberal Democrat MP for Manchester Withington, John Leech, has tabled an Early Day Motion (number 1265) which calls for action to be taken against homophobic chanting at football matches, pointing out that if the chants were about someone’s race or skin colour, then they would be tackled.

His EDM says:

That this House welcomes the report from the Brighton and Hove Albion Supporters’ Club (BHASC), along with the Gay Football Supporters’ Network (GFSN), that details evidence and a log of the level of homophobic chanting at both home and away matches; recognises the extent of the problem when Brighton fans have been

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The Independent View: Why reforming football is a liberal agenda

Football is moving up the political agenda. In 2010 DCMS announced an inquiry into football governance which culminated in a report in 2011, criticising the football authorities for levels of debt and supporter engagement among other things. Meanwhile, Supporters Direct, the body responsible for promoting the values of supporter engagement in the UK, has been busy lobbying parliament for a new rule in club licensing (which allows clubs to compete in the leagues) that guarantees a structured relationship between supporters and their clubs; and secondly the establishment of a Government Expert Group to explore removing barriers to increase …

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LDVideo: Jeremy Browne “reserves his position” on the Government’s Euro 2012 boycott

When is a boycott not a boycott? When England confounds expectations by playing well.

That appears to be the more-than-a-little confusing Government message during the Euro 2012 football championships being held in Ukraine, where there are continuing concerns about its ‘selective justice’ system. No government minister has attended a match yet, and that boycott will extend to this Sunday’s quarter-final against Italy.

But the Government has refused to be drawn on whether its boycott would continue if England reach the semi-finals. You can watch Lib Dem foreign office minister Jeremy Browne attempt to justify this inconsistency to Andrew Neil on the BBC’s Daily Politics here:

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Opinion: Why I won’t be watching Euro 2012

I know for many years that there has been the debate as to whether sport should be brought into politics and am old enough to remember when there was a boycott against the South African apartheid regime.

Watching BBC Panorama last week brought up feelings of disgust, horror, anger and a sense of déjà vu. Had we entered some time vortex back to the 70’s where these chants were all too common on the terraces here in the UK?

It was made worse when the interviewer asked the police chief about what he had witnessed and filmed only minutes earlier to be …

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Opinion: even football supporters have civil liberties… don’t they?

There I was with a couple of mates when a group of police officers appeared and started filming us.

None of us had a criminal record, nor were we doing anything remotely suspicious. We were not drunk, we were in a public place and there was nothing untoward going on around us either.

Our only crime was to have visited a football stadium to watch a match.

To rub it in even further, not only was one of the officers recording video for almost the entire 90 minutes another stood right next to her and took dozens of pictures.

At first I thought the …

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Forgotten Liberal heroes: Richard Lillicrap

Richard Lillicrap was probably too little known in Lib Dem circles in the first place to be forgotten, but for hundreds (if not thousands) of committed football fans who are closely involved in running supporters’ trusts or indeed football clubs themselves – like AFC Wimbledon – he was an inspiration.

Richard was a key player in the supporters’ movement, helping dozens of football (and other sports) supporters to organise themselves and take action in their communities to protect their teams from avaricious and uninterested owners.

Richard was also a committed Liberal and saw fan and community ownership of football as the obvious expression of liberalism and community politics in the sporting sphere. He was also a Liberal Democrat councillor for Canbury Ward in Kingston from 1994-98 and a key part of the first ever majority Lib Dem administration that devolved its decisions to seven neighbourhood committees – even thought it meant giving up control in four of these to opposition parties.

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BBC: Nick Clegg hails England’s ‘unbeatable’ World Cup bid

The BBC reports:

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has told Fifa inspectors England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup is “unbeatable”. The Fifa delegation, which will write a report on England’s bid to host the World Cup, began their four-day visit with a reception at Downing Street. Mr Clegg said: “I believe this is an exceptionally strong, unbeatable bid. We in this government believe in it, we hope that you will believe in it.”

You can see Nick welcome the Fifa delegation here:

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No, 1980s hairstyles haven’t made a comeback at Southampton Football Club

Latest news in the ongoing saga of Southampton Football Club’s attempts to ban photographers from its matches, and instead insist the media buys official photographs from itself, is that the Bournemouth Daily Echo has joined the Plymouth Herald in refusing to play ball.

The Herald is using a cartoonist instead of using photographs, but the Echo has decided to take another route – and is using photographs from the 1980s instead. Footballers’ hair has never looked so good if you ask me.

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Southampton bans photographs; newspaper employs cartoonist

Southampton football club have joined the long list of clubs that ban or want to ban the media from their matches as it suits. Back in November it was Portsmouth FC banning a journalist whose coverage it didn’t like and Alex Ferguson for a long time did not allow the BBC to interview him, again because he didn’t like the tone of its coverage.

This time it is photographers in the firing line as Southampton has banned them from its matches, wanting people instead to buy official photographs for use in media coverage. This has at least been good news for …

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How Clegg switched sides at half-time

No, not more revelations from the memoirs of New Labour’s svengali, Lord (Peter) Mandelson – rather a diary piece by Hugh Muir in the Guardian.

LDV readers may recall Nick Clegg’s conflicted loyalties in deciding whether to support Holland or Spain in Sunday’s World Cup final. It appears he found out a way to resolve them:

… at a cross-party reception for the Lib Dem thinktank Centre Forum, the deputy prime minister admitted that while he began watching the World Cup final supporting Holland, as the Diary said he would, he switched sides halfway through and began rooting for

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The coalition agreement: culture, Olympics, media and sport

Welcome to the fifth in a series of posts going through the full coalition agreement section by section. You can read the full coalition document here.

It’s rather a mouthful of a title for this section, but it reflects the diverse remit of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Almost inevitably it is made up of a disparate shopping list of policies without any clear thread running through them.

The list includes the not exactly controversial (Make a success of the Olympics! Make a success of other sports events! Try to get more sports events!) through supporting the status quo …

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Don Foster MP: Standing at football grounds

Football fans are getting a raw deal. 1.4 million who want to play football can’t due to scant facilities. Season tickets for top clubs are a rip-off; costing 5 times more than in Spain and Italy. Disabled fans are treated shamefully. Only two Premiership Clubs meet the recommended level of number of spaces specially designed for wheelchair users. The game is disappearing from free-to-air TV.

And fans can’t stand at matches, though many want to. According to the Football Fans’ Census, 91% of fans think they should be able to choose to stand.

Of course, none of us can forget …

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Alex Ferguson forced to unban BBC

A follow-up to my post When is it ok to ban a journalist?, about the habit in football of clubs banning journalists who say things they don’t like (can you imagine the uproar if a public sector body tried to do the same?):

Sir Alex Ferguson will have to end his six-year ban on giving interviews to BBC reporters under newly agreed rules coming into force next season.

A motion was passed at a Premier League board meeting last week which made post-match interviews with all media rights holders mandatory for league managers, reports The Daily Telegraph.

Manchester United supremo Ferguson has not

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When is it ok to ban a journalist?

Portsmouth FC have banned a local newspaper journalist from their ground after taking  dislike to a piece that he wrote. Although the club has neither suggested the article broke any law nor is libellous, it has decided to ban Neil Allen for an “indefinite period” from home matches, press conferences, speaking to the players and coaching staff or visiting the club’s training ground.

As Hold The Front Page reports,

News sports editor Howard Frost told HTFP: “It seems a bit petty. If (manager) Paul Hart wants to take exception, that’s his prerogative.

“It’s generally normal for managers and journalists to fall out

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Foster on online pay-per-view for England World Cup match: football’s “making a fast buck” at fans’ expense

Well, the good news for Lib Dems is that it should be safe to go knocking on doors on Saturday afternoon knowing you’re not going to interrupt an England World Cup qualifier on the telly. The bad news – if you’re a football supporter without home access to the Internet – is that you can’t watch England take on Ukraine.

The BBC explains:

England’s World Cup qualifier in Ukraine on Saturday will be shown exclusively live to subscribers on the internet who will pay at least £4.99. All previously broadcast England matches have been available on TV.

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CommentIsLinked@LDV: Vince Cable – Arthur, Delia and another rotten bubble

Over at the Daily Mail, Lib Dem deputy leader Vince Cable examines the disconnect between the have-nots and the ‘haves and have-yachts’ in the sporting world, and asks if ‘The Storm’ will close the gap:

First it was debt, then property. Now I sense another bubble waiting to burst. While some of Britain’s key wealth-generating activities – construction, manufacturing, finance – are in terrible shape, one industry sails serenely on apparently oblivious to the recession: football’s Premier League. Britain’s leading banks may have bitten the dust but our top clubs dominate Europe and, arguably, the world. …

I can’t see this party

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