Ciaran Judge > So, we have ridden out the storm; Florentino Perez’s attempt to “save football” has been swept away by a deluge of negative reaction to the planned ESL. For a couple of days, the whole of the football world united in the condemnation of the idea. The situation has just confirmed what many thoughts all along, Football is full of people who are more concerned about the contents of their bank accounts than the good of the game.
It is often stated that Football is a “business”, fans are treated as “consumers” and the game as a “product”. These words have crept into the vocabulary of Football and they totally miss the point of what Football was meant to be. For a start Clubs were not set up to be businesses, they were de-facto charities run for the people by the people. Football was never meant to be a Business; it was a pastime, an escape for the fan and player alike.
Fans are not the same as consumers. A consumer can make the choice after a bad meal to find another restaurant, to withdraw your custom and not return. During the 2002 – 03 relegation season it took West Ham until the 29th January to win a home game. Despite having a talented squad, the under achievement was really something to behold. Over 34,000 people watched the first game of the season that year and over 34,000 people watched our first home win on a freezing night 4 months later. In between the “consumers” were treated to awful performances against Birmingham and West Brom, a completely inept defensive performance against Leeds and 1-0 defeats to Everton and Southampton. Elsewhere in London Chelsea were gathering strength and Arsenal were one year off becoming the Invincibles. As “consumers” there was a better “product” taking place within the same city and if we were consumers we could have gone and watched Chelsea or Arsenal, but we didn’t. Fans to every club turn up each week regardless of the quality of the team, how the club is run or how they are treated by the club they love so much.
Fans are always exploited and the powers that be know that come hell or highwater they will return every week, yes we might grumble and complain and feel aggrieved but we will return and do it all over again the following week. At heart of Football is competition as it is with all Sport. I have seen West Ham beat Macclesfield 8-0, Wimbledon 6-0 Derby County 5-1 and of course I enjoyed the games. The games I have really loved is a hard-fought win, a 2-1 ideally with a late goal being a personal favourite. Why do I enjoy those games more? The competition, the feeling we had hard earned it not simply steam rolled someone. In order to be competitive in Football money talks. The latest attempt by the so-called elite clubs to keep the money between them, to ensure no relegation, no exit from the gravy train takes away the jeopardy and takes away the attraction.
Be under no allusion West Ham would have been in that big 6 if they could be our club has its faults. The London Stadium is a nice Stadium but it’s not West Ham’s Stadium this endless quest striving for the “next level” now means compromising the history of a club.
If you look at the source of some of the club owner’s wealth in our country, it is suspect at best and well documented, but fans will turn a blind eye if it brings success. This people are Businessmen not interested in institutions that have been part of British history for over a hundred years. The owners of the clubs involved in the Super League do not care about what makes football great, and worse still have no idea what makes football great.
The Super League united fans and clubs now could be a chance to unite to take on Racism, Homophobia and Sexism within the game. What about some condemnation of those things; and better still some action. The difference is the Super League was going hit clubs in the pocket. The platform is there, and it can be used for good this week proved it. The clubs need to use it for the right reasons.
The clubs maybe owned elsewhere but they belong to the fans and they always have done; this week has shown that maybe we have a louder voice than we thought.