Tag Archives: football

The cost of football

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My two grandchildren both love football, and one of them takes it very seriously indeed. We all know the huge social and health benefits from taking part in sport and I have a great respect for all those parents who help to keep community sports clubs alive and kicking, as it were.

But children who love a sport also want to watch professionals playing, so it is very sad to learn that major clubs are effectively pricing out younger supporters. The BBC has published its annual report Price of Football 2017 and found that most ticket prices have remained steady. But in parallel it commissioned a survey of 18 to 24 year olds – all football fans – which showed that 82% said that the price of tickets was a barrier preventing them from going to more matches. OK, so I have jumped there from children to younger adults, because that’s the group that was surveyed, but the inference is that ticket price is a problem for young people in general.

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Things are changing in women’s football – but is it just a clone of the men’s game?

A football groundFrom showing games on mainstream TV to featuring in the sports pages of newspapers, a lot has happened in women’s football in the last 5 years. In a country obsessed by football the women’s game is beginning to gain the recognition it deserves.

I have long believed that equality of pay would be the best way to get the football business to focus on promoting the women’s game. Change the economics and there is an incentive to stimulate the demand – generating gate receipts, TV rights and brand endorsement. I …

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LibLink: Tim Farron – “As Millwall’s crisis shows, football is about far more than just sport”

 

It’s not often that a senior Lib Dem is quoted in the Sports pages (Ming Campbell excepted). But today Tim Farron has been explaining his concern about the decision of Lewisham Council to compulsory purchase Millwall’s land.

He is quoted:

Football clubs are a crucial part of British society and are at the heart of our communities. I know how heartbreaking it would be for Millwall’s fans and the local community if their club was forced to move against their wishes. The details of this case seem quite extraordinary and I hope that the council don’t take actions that could risk the club’s future in the area.

Since that was published Tim has written a longer comment piece.

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Congratulations to the Welsh football team

So Wales did not get beyond the semi finals in Euro 2016. Or rather; Wales got through to the semi finals of Euro 2016. An awesome performance which highlighted real teamwork and courage. They had tenacity in the face of people expecting so little of them. They believed in themselves and gave it everything.  They stood out as a team who felt privileged to be in the contest, wanted to make their mark and will come home to Wales with their heads held high having made it to the semi finals. Llongyfarchiadau Cymru/Congratulations Wales.

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Lord Martin Thomas writes…The Red Army

I am six inches taller this week. Wales smashed Russia in Toulouse! Russia was our heroic ally during the war but for most of my adult life, we were living under the threat of a huge looming Stalinist empire.

I grew up with soccer, as we used to call it. Saturdays were school rugby in the morning, and the Boys’ Enclosure at the Wrexham Racecourse soccer ground in the afternoon. Tunnicliffe thunders down the wing, crosses to Les Speed in the centre who puts the ball in the net. At our end, the amiable Ferguson tries to keep his knees together in goal – he famously let one through his legs at Stoke in the FA Cup. Soccer was simple then.

Then Hungary with Pusckas put six goals past England in 1953 and the world turned upside down. Russia invaded Hungary  and Pusckas fled to Real Madrid. Soccer became Football. What you have to do now is  stroke the ball to each other in your own half, send it back to the goalie and back again –  intricate patterns of play with the only hope of a goal to wake up the crowd from a penalty, corner or free kick. 

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Liberal Democrats can define themselves through football reform

 

In the world of football, all is not good. FIFA is undergoing the trials and tribulations of reform, whilst acting like some sort of pseudo- authoritarian state, corrupt to the very core. The FA is blind to the locking out of many fans and seemingly unable to push real reform. The Premier League can’t hear complaints over the cash pile that they find themselves eternally drenched in.

This matters, to a lot of people. In the UK, 32% of the adult population is engaged with the Premier League. This is before we address the Championship, where historically popular teams such as Derby and Nottingham Forest now lie. In 2013-14, Championship teams averaged 17,000 spectators per game, and in League 1 that figure still stood at a very reasonable 8,000. Football matters.

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Fifa World Cup row: Lib Dem members say no to Qatar but split on 2022 boycott

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what our sample of Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. 747 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Yesterday, Fifa’s independent ethics investigator Michael Garcia quit in protest over the handling of his report into bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Here’s what Lib Dem members had to say about Fifa in our latest survey…

Do you think the 2022 football FIFA World Cup should go ahead in Qatar, or should it be hosted elsewhere?

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Senior Liberal Democrats sign letter praising former FA inclusion adviser Edward Lord after his abrupt sacking

Earlier this month, Edward Lord, who until last Thursday sat on the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board, criticised the FA for not taking inclusion and diversity seriously enough. In an interview with the Telegraph on 3rd September, he said:

The public and the rest of the sport industry are getting fed up with football’s inability to tackle discrimination in the game.  Most other governing bodies have really embraced the need for change, to make their sports more inclusive. It always seems as though football is lagging behind. The FA must take action when participants so flagrantly breach their rules against discrimination.

He was referring in part to the fact that the FA took no action against Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore when his highly sexist emails were published.

Last Thursday, the FA sacked him from his role on the Inclusion Advisory Board. You have to wonder what this says about their actual commitment to tackling discrimination. Their statement was uncompromising:

It is not about what Edward has stated publicly, but a matter and question of conduct and respect for colleagues. The group collectively felt that all trust in Edward, due to his repeated failure to work in the spirit of collaboration, had broken down irretrievably.

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Safe standing at football grounds: “an idea whose time has come,” say Lib Dems

I can still remember my first ever live football match. It was a glamorous encounter between Everton and Newport County in the second round of the League Cup on 24th September 1986. A big part of what made it memorable was the electric atmosphere of the Gwladys Street stand at Goodison Park. I was nine, so everything seemed huge but the big scousers around me, shouting and cheering, made sure I could always get a good view of what was happening on the pitch.

I was reminded of all this by the headline in the The Mirror yesterday reporting Lib Dem plans to allow football clubs to introduce ‘safe standing’ areas at grounds:

mirror safe standing

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Stephen Williams calls for zero tolerance of homophobia on football terraces

Stephen Williams MPLiberal Democrat Communities Minister has called for the FA, football clubs and the Police to work together to combat homophobia on football terraces.

From Pink News:

He said: “We need to stamp out homophobia on the terraces with the same vigour that we banished racism. It isn’t acceptable that footballers still feel the need to hide their sexuality out of fear of abuse.

“I want homophobia to be treated with zero tolerance just the same as racism and I want clubs, stewards, the police and FA to work even harder to

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Football fan? Lib Dem? Then why not join LDV’s Fantasy Football League?

ST_evertonMy co-editor Caron Lindsay isn’t, it turns out, a big fan of football. But I am — that’s me there, aged about 8 — and there are a few other Lib Dems who are too.

The new season properly kicks off in a fortnight’s time, 16th August. So if you fancy pitting your skills selecting the most successful team of players from the English Premier League against the skills of fellow party supporters here’s what you need to do:

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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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    Crikey, that Rob Parsons post is depressing
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