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02 September 2011 @ 11:42 pm
Net Losses - In search of the soul of British football.  
I am by no means a follower of the EPL but I stumbled across this documentary on the Al Jazeera website and found it fascinating. Check it out if you have the time.

English football clubs were once at the centre of their communities, but that spirit is eroding in Britain's top flight football. Liverpool FC's anthem is You'll Never Walk Alone - but has this franchise left their fans behind?

A generation who grew up watching football in the 1970s and 1980s now feels alienated by the clubs they followed as children. The instinctive connection between the terraces and the players has gone. A football ground used to be the centre of a community. Now it is just another out-of-town shopping mall.

The Premier League is the self-styled "biggest league in the world", but most top clubs are in debt, over-charging their fans for tickets and hoping for a Gulf petro-dollar bail-out. While the Premier League becomes a play thing for foreign owners and tourists, football is re-emerging elsewhere. Many fans who grew up supporting Manchester United or Liverpool are taking their own kids to watch lower league football where they can feel they are part of the team.

What has happened to the beauty of the beautiful game in Britain? Al Jazeera's Andrew Richardson goes in search of the soul of British football.


Edit: The embedded youtube vid is taking forever to load on my laptop for some reason. So here is the link in case. Going to bed now.
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( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
scavenger of human miserypiratesswoop on September 3rd, 2011 06:57 am (UTC)
Al Jazeera is my favourite news network, so I'm definitely going to check this out when I get up tomorrow, thanks for posting it!
Mila: Cris - possemila_casillas on September 3rd, 2011 03:45 pm (UTC)
I freakin love al jazeera! They bother to cover stories that other media outlets ignore.
Jenny Jenkinsjenny_jenkins on September 3rd, 2011 07:25 am (UTC)
I'm with piratesswoop on this one. Al Jazeera is always top-class, in depth and in a different league (so to speak!). Best news network on earth, no doubt. And they love their football!

I can't wait to watch this tomorrow morning either!
pozoleyumpozoleyum on September 3rd, 2011 08:07 am (UTC)
Al Jazeera you say? I like, I like.

I was going to watch it tomorrow, but now I can't stop. This is a great documentary dealing with the economic conflicts of football clubs.

eta: get it german league, get it! for the people by the people.

Edited at 2011-09-03 08:11 am (UTC)
zparklemotionzparklemotion on September 3rd, 2011 09:07 am (UTC)
Ooo, interesting!
Liz: Football -- LFC -- YNWAgrrliz on September 3rd, 2011 11:59 am (UTC)
I could only watch about fifteen minutes of this because the "footie sold out omg" was starting to take its toll on me. I hope they get to this later in the feature, but I've gotta say that as a woman and as an international fan, a lot of this stuff has helped someone like me feel way more connected to a club than I ever could have before. (I realise they're talking about lack of connection between teams and local fans, but still.) I kind of get sick listening to men moan about the loss of terraces, beacuse I'm convinced that what they're really moaning about is the loss of a time when men were the predominant stadium goers and now they've been replaced in part by women and children.

I also have to say that on my first visit to Anfield in May, words cannot express how much a part of the footie family I felt because of the awesome, awesome fans, and a large part of that was because I felt safe enough to enjoy the game. Growing up in North America in a family that played soccer but didn't watch it meant that the only thing you ever heard about it was what was in the news: hooliganism. They take great care to make you feel like you're safe, everyone is friendly, and this is something I never would have felt if I'd been old enough to attend matches in this so-called glory period when terraces were allowed.

Sorry, this was a bit of a tangent. I hate that there are a lot of fans being squeezed out due to ticket prices being high (although they seem on par with other sports tickets, so...) but at the same time I'm kind of annoyed with the attitude that teams are now disconnected from their fans because of some of the things that help increase their reach to people who had previously been excluded for other reasons when ticket prices were lower.

Edited at 2011-09-03 12:02 pm (UTC)
mimi-rose~: fulham 2hi_mimi on September 3rd, 2011 12:40 pm (UTC)
^ THIS! Exactly. As someone who regularly attends football (away and home) matches, I really don't feel as if football has lost it's 'soul.' If anything, the atmosphere at many grounds has improved dramatically since the 1980s. Grounds now feel incredibly safe and welcoming although not in an overbearing or sanitized way. Attending any match (Premier League, Championship or any League below) should provide evidence that fans, and not just tourists (who more than often have as much passion as local fans and just as much right to see a match,) still have a true passion for their clubs. Hell, I've been to a packed out Brentford vs. Bradford match where the fans were just as dedicated as any BPL supporter (we were also standing on concrete terraces as away supporters, interestingly enough.)

I agree 100% with you about terraces - the presence of terraces contributed to serious acts of football-related violence and bred the 'the Firm' culture which was killing British football in the 1980s. They were also potentially dangerous, especially when exiting grounds. This reduced the overall appeal of football.

I also feel that clubs are now interacting with their local communities more than ever. They engage in a lot of charity work which is often not reported on. Just because a club earns itself a wealthy owner doesn't mean that it forgets it's history.

Still, that point about ticket pricing is very true. Some people are being priced out of football and the cost of attending some matches is ridiculous. It is definitely alienating some fans. However, there is increased awareness of this issue - QPR have very publicly decreased their ticket prices after hiking them up by 40% since the club's promotion.

Anyway, I'm digressing. This documentary is very interesting but I really don't think that football has lost it's 'soul.'
Liz: Football -- LFC -- Stevie G -- adorablegrrliz on September 3rd, 2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
Attending any match (Premier League, Championship or any League below) should provide evidence that fans, and not just tourists (who more than often have as much passion as local fans and just as much right to see a match,) still have a true passion for their clubs.

I do sometimes wonder about the people they interview for these kinds of things in terms of people being upset that tourists are the only ones who can afford tickets, etc. Everyone who found out that we came all the way from Canada for the match was really excited that there was such a dedicated overseas fan base and that we were able to even snag tickets in the first place. It's part of what endeared me to Liverpool: they lost to Tottenham, but most of the locals who we met were apologetic that we hadn't seen a more successful match, as if they were personally responsible! We were just happy that we got to go; they were disappointed that we'd come all that way and not got to see them win!
Milamila_casillas on September 3rd, 2011 03:42 pm (UTC)
Yup the whining (especially that one extra whiny guy) did annoy me but it gets better when the economic analysis gets around. I think the major point to take home is that whereas the EPL teams and La Liga have sold out and are facing debt, German teams like Shalke (majority shares of which belong to supporters) are doing ok. They speak about some of the clubs that went under because their big money supporters pulled out. What will happen to, say, Manchester City if the sheiks get bored of it?

But I am with you in that I am glad the hooliganism is minimized. The fact that those fans were crushed to death by other fans is a frightening thought.
mezz98mezz98 on September 4th, 2011 02:25 pm (UTC)
I watched the whole doc and really enjoyed it, but I really appreciate the very valid points you make here.
emmam94 on September 3rd, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
This is quite interesting, but I must say, Al Jazeera is the biggest bullshit going around, its just another media propaganda. So who knows how true this is.
Mila: Cris - possemila_casillas on September 3rd, 2011 03:49 pm (UTC)
Media propaganda by whom? Why would these supporters be lying about their feelings to feed Al Jazeera's propaganda machine? >__>
emmam94 on September 3rd, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
Its like the cnn of the middle-east the amount of false things they've actually showed is unbelievable, they can't even get even get statistics right and show the right countries sometimes, but, I guess this football so this classified different.
scavenger of human miserypiratesswoop on September 4th, 2011 07:08 am (UTC)
Are you confusing Al Jazeera with Fox News or somthing?
Jenny Jenkinsjenny_jenkins on September 3rd, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
Al Jazeera is the only network left with actual reporters on the ground - they never rely on the wire services - most especially in Africa and South East Asia, where their reporting is untouchable.
emmam94 on September 4th, 2011 02:14 pm (UTC)
Oh really? Is that why they used Libya's death statistics and said it was Syria's, is that why they used iraq's images and said it was Egypts. And I am not confusing cnn with fox news, they're both the same inaccurate 'news' if thats what you would like to call it, they're all similar to eacb other, al jazeera is like their 'back up' if all else fails
noodlecookienoodlecookie on September 3rd, 2011 02:48 pm (UTC)
I watched this a few days ago on Al Jazeera and I was looking for it everywhere to watch it again but I couldn't remember the bloody title so thankyou so so much for this!!
Naomishadow_sea on September 3rd, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC)
If I start talking about this kind of thing I'll end up ranting forever.

All I'll say is the pricing of tickets is an absolute disgrace and it effects the people who are supposed to be the heartbeat of the clubs' support the most. My grandad always said the only thing that would stop him heading down to Anfield every other week is death but he stopped going regularly about 5 years ago because he couldn't afford it. The reason I got into footy has him and my dad taking me to matches when I was a kid but the vast majority of working class/lower middle class families just cannot afford to the same now & it makes so sad and angry.

I appreciate that the facilities at football grounds have improved a lot since the late 80s and that the money goes towards paying the ridiculous wages that help teams attract world class players but that doesn't justify a 1000% price increase over 20 years, when cumulative inflation has been 77%.
xue: kennyrapsukha4 on September 3rd, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this!
Very interesting. It would be amazing if Liverpool would become fan owned one day. That's really the ideal.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )