Opium for the masses – the cost of Premier addiction

IF football is a supply and demand industry in England, then on first glance it appears to be working. Crowds in the Premier League are at their highest level since the 1950s and some clubs have waiting lists for season tickets that stretch back years and years. True, there is an argument that “modern football” is pricing people, notably the traditional working-class out of the … Continue reading Opium for the masses – the cost of Premier addiction

Why non-league isn’t doing it for me anymore

NON-LEAGUE football has been part of my DNA for the past 30 years, but I’m sad to say that I no longer get the buzz I used to experience from this level of the game. There are a number of reasons and none of them imply that non-league is less important than it used to be, indeed there is an upturn in interest at some … Continue reading Why non-league isn’t doing it for me anymore

Digital detox and the football fan

CAN anyone remember when they had to actually wait for a football result? Did the life of a fan lack enrichment exist before the age of smart phones, apps and SKYTV? Instant gratification and constant connectivity is what it’s all about, from up-to-date football scores and the obsession of being forever in touch with your “friends”. Yesterday, at Hammersmith tube station, I was knocked flying … Continue reading Digital detox and the football fan

Is it unfair to ask football to entertain and be held to task?

WE LIVE in interesting times. This is often a phrase used to disguise crisis, restrain panic and, invariably, to paint a picture that, despite the rising tide of discontent, “everything’s ok”. Translated, “interesting” means “we are in the deep do-do”. It’s a sentence we’ve heard many times since 2008 and is frequently used in the world of politics, economics and, of course, football. “Interesting times” … Continue reading Is it unfair to ask football to entertain and be held to task?

Hankering for football’s mythical “good old days”

ACROSS social media, people yearn for a return to a time they can more easily understand when it comes to football. A year ago, Emirates Stadium regulars wanted “our Arsenal back” and this season, Chelsea and Manchester United supporters are playing a similar tune. A certain age group longs for a return to “the good old days”, but sometimes, it is a misguided belief that … Continue reading Hankering for football’s mythical “good old days”

Football has always been about money, but the stakes are now much higher

THERE were around six main football stories in the sports section of the newspaper I was reading as I grabbed an espresso at my favourite coffee bar in my home town. All six had a big emphasis on the financial side of the game: transfers (Gareth Bale), clubs in trouble (Bury), sponsorship and, more modestly, cash support for anti-racism groups. Admittedly, it was the last … Continue reading Football has always been about money, but the stakes are now much higher

When will fans realise football is just an incredibly well-paid job?

IT HAS been interesting to hear the criticism of players who left their club in order to move elsewhere. Some clubs and their fans take it worse than others, but ultimately, in the free market that is football, players are like you and me, they have a choice to earn their income from whom they choose to work for. Football is not a vocation, a … Continue reading When will fans realise football is just an incredibly well-paid job?

The football condition: Devotion, delusion, distraction… deserving?

A CHIN-STROKING professor, trying to explain the typical extra-curricular activities of British people, once remarked that in any group of 100 men, around 50% spent much of their free time watching “association” football.  He went on to explain that for many of these people, the game of football was, to a certain degree, the replacement for some of the conventional life-defining moments that people go … Continue reading The football condition: Devotion, delusion, distraction… deserving?

Manchester United, the religious argument

ACADEMICS somewhere in the world are probably debating right now whether football has replaced religion as a defining element of society. To some people, football is the prominent feature of their life, the opium that drags them away from the mundane. The importance of the game, to those who have little else to lift their lives, was highlighted in the press a year or so … Continue reading Manchester United, the religious argument

Envy drives football rivalry – if only we would admit it

WHEN Liverpool won the Champions League for the sixth time, there were as many bricks thrown at the club as bouquets. Supporters of Liverpool’s closest rivals, notably Manchester United and Chelsea, begrudged the success of the Reds, using all sorts of excuses for why they had won the competition and, unable to be over negative about the team, turned to criticising the fans and their … Continue reading Envy drives football rivalry – if only we would admit it

UEFA Europa League: Together to Baku – almost

IF Arsenal or Chelsea were not up against a local rival, Baku and the Europa League might not mean as much as it probably does to the fans of both clubs – those that decide to make the journey to Azerbaijan. The fact that the clubs have returned tickets to UEFA says a lot about the appeal of Baku as the stage for a major … Continue reading UEFA Europa League: Together to Baku – almost

Devotion, delusion, distraction… deserving?

AN English academic, trying to explain the typical extra-curricular activities of British people, once remarked that in any group of 100 men, around 50% spent much of their free time watching association football.  He went on to explain that for many of these people, the game of football was, to a certain degree, the replacement for some of the conventional life-defining moments that people go … Continue reading Devotion, delusion, distraction… deserving?

Manchester United, the religious argument

ACADEMICS somewhere in the world are probably debating right now whether football has replaced religion as a defining element of society. To some people, football is the prominent feature of their life, the opium that drags them away from the mundane. The importance of the game, to those who have little else to lift their lives, was highlighted in the press a year or so … Continue reading Manchester United, the religious argument