Thursday 7 October 2010

Why the coalition of the British people should save our national sport

English football has never been richer, never more accessible to the masses via TV, never more so brashly self-confident - but at the same time its clubs are dangerously lacking in direction or common sense. A bit like a cock sure cock pheasant on October 1st; ultimately you feel it will all end with a rapid fall back to earth.

As a Liverpool fan I take a keen interest in the politics of football, football ownership and football's increasingly perilous financial situation. Things need to change. Not only to ensure the survival of our clubs, but also to reinstate the connection between the boardroom and the terraces.    

One passage in David Cameron's speech yesterday really struck a chord with me: 'I don't believe in laissez-faire. Government has a role not just to fire up ambition, but to give it flight.' Football is in real need of a little help from this coalition government. George Osborne will be happy to note that this will not take any taxpayers' money, merely some guidance from government to clubs in a way the sports administrators continually fail to provide.

What football needs is each club to have fans represented on their boards. Give fans a direct say in how their club is run. Reconnect the billionaires with the people who often spend all of their spare cash (and more) on following their team. Get the clubs to be a part of the community once again. Make these clubs the biggest social action projects the modern Conservative Party has ever helped facilitate.

The theme of the Prime Minister's speech was 'Your Country needs You', or according to the Daily Telegraph it takes two. Essentially he was saying everyone needs to take responsibility to improve and grow the economy and the country. If he looks towards a large number of English clubs there are groups of supporters who want to do just that: take responsibility, use their ambition and take flight.

The culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, admits to being more of a fan of the arts than the sporting arena and was forced to make an apology to Liverpool fans recently after a gaffe about the Hillsborough tragedy. Not only would taking these steps in football pay back those Liverpool fans who still seek justice for the 96 fans who died that April day in 1989, it would be fantastic politics.

In Liverpool there is the Spirit of Shankly group who campaign for fans ownership of Liverpool FC. In Manchester they are matched by the green and gold campaign against foreign ownership.  Fans all over the country would welcome this policy. For many their club is their life; so for the government to step in to help make their life better would never be forgotten. They could see a tangible example of David Cameron's 'Big Society'. Every club would be a coalition of people who could then adopt Liverpool Football Club's anthem in saying 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

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