#BigSamGate Is Proof- Football Has Lost Its Soul
Another week in football, another week where real fans of the game are being marginalised as the greedy, the chancers and the Johnny-come-latelys all take a front row seat and laugh at us, the long standing supporter.
I walked up the stairs at Turf Moor before doing my Call Collymore US show and looked out across the town and thought ‘proper football town this.’ Because it felt real, earthy and a million miles away from the new stadia, the overpriced shit food, the rip-off merchandising stalls and the showbiz that football has become.
But it’s partly my fault for letting this happen and if you count yourself as a football mad, long standing fan who loves the game, it’s your fault too, because we’ve let it happen on our watch.
Remember decent ticket prices? Walk ups? Concessions and being able to take your kids to the game under the lights? I do too.
Remember when TV coverage was about the pre-match build up, a chat with the managers of both teams, a look at the town the game is played in and its long proud history? Me too.
Remember when managers and players would stop and sign an autograph, damn, you may even get a chat from them at the local chippie or petrol station. Not anymore.
The game is consumed by greed, by a cartel of companies hell bent on hammering you over the head with their preferred sponsors, presenters and anaesthetised pundits who said nothing as players but who now are more than happy to talk to the fans, purely for money or a business opportunity.
Where has this rant come from Stan? It’s come from the heart and the soul and although many of you reading this think I’m damaged goods, I know on behalf of all of us that the game is so far out of kilter that there is little or no chance of us getting it back so that YOU, the real fans can enjoy your birth right and not be a consumer to be milked for all their worth.
The Sam Allardyce story, even if there is no wrongdoing proves this.
A man who has earned fortunes from the game but sneakily talks behind peoples’ backs at the very least.
People he’d then shake hands with and say “you’re doing a great job fella” if presented to him.
It’s Burnley v Watford, two great clubs, being sidelined for a Klopp love-in on TV where teenagers Tweet “genius” just because the man can out his thoughts in more than one syllable.
It’s club legends, willing to stick the knife into managers and players who they have no allegiance to, but suspiciously keep quiet when it’s England’s captain up for discussion.
And it’s the growing cartel, and that’s what it is, a monopolising cartel, which is trying to clamp down on independent writers, broadcasters and journalists who tell the truth about the game, players and clubs.
It started a few years ago with clubs banning journos for legitimate dissent.
It was Mike Ashley literally leaving crumbs on the NUFC press table where writers and broadcasters, concerned about the Toon were spitefully denied a bite to eat or a cuppa, just because they wrote the truth.
It’s Charlton Athletic’s board and their flagrant disregard of supporters who care deeply for their club.
And we could go on and on and on, yet still do nothing.
Many men and women my age left the game years ago. They just can’t afford it anymore, they are bitter, angry and confused as to why they can only see their team for up to a grand by having to subscribe for it. And even then, apart from the football, the people talking back to them aren’t talking about their issues or speaking their language.
Broadcasters, who should be asking questions, only do so when idiots like me stick their neck out so far and make themselves virtually unemployable. Then they come out from under their stone to comment: “It’s ok, that fool has talked about Rooney now, or ticket prices, or shirt prices, so we can now too’.
That’s not broadcasting; that’s cowardice.
And I accuse every single broadcaster of Premier League football in the UK of it. Knowing full well they couldn’t care less about you.
Kids earning £40,000 a week without ever having to play a game? Is this really what we want from our game? Player hoarding on industrial scales, talent as young as 12 chucked on a scrap heap by clubs number crunching rather than nurturing?
What about my Union, the PFA? Can’t find a few quid to continue supporting ‘Kick It Out’ but can find £5m for a swanky new home. This on the back of players like Dalian Atkinson who didn’t even have the courtesy before his death of one bloody phone call from the Union or any of his clubs. All of whom put the ‘RIP Dalian’ banners up, the sob screens and hollow statements.
“Football without fans is nothing” someone once said, but the Premier League points to armies of fans abroad, higher attendances than ever and billions coming through the turnstiles.
But the soul has gone and so has the feeling of belonging.
The smells, the camaraderie, that feeling when you walk into the ground of being a stakeholder in this shared experience and sport.
Sam Allardyce, the deification of Klopp for speaking on TV, the collective omertà of pundits, the cartel that has a choke hold over the sport is symptomatic of one thing. Money. And where there is money there is greed.
I have no problem with players, the stars of the show or anyone else in any walk of life, earning great money and succeeding. But there’s a nasty, gloating cockiness about people within the sport now that I see at games, see on TV, see in the dugout and see in the boardrooms and amongst the broadcast hoi palloi.
Unless a purge happens and these people are driven out of the sport and quickly, there will be no game left in these islands.
Just the ones of a post European Super league with YOU, the longstanding fan left to pick up the pieces.
If I’m wrong, show me where I’m wrong. But go to any club, any training ground, any football player, any pundit or manager and find the appreciation of what you have given them, which in most cases is everything.
You wished for the greatest show on earth and you got it, but at what cost? The soul of the game I suggest.