In the past year, the main political parties have cast their eye to the world of football with the view of forming policy for their forthcoming General Election manifestos. While obviously they would be looking for opportunities to solicit votes, the growing money in the game genuinely has alarm bells ringing in Westminster, with supporters increasingly marginalised by the sport they are supposedly the lifeblood of.
Last year My Old Man Said (MOMS) was invited to a football think tank at Parliament organised by the Shadow Minister of Sport at parliament, where the emphasis was on trying to find ways to empower supporters and protect football heritage and traditions, and while Labour later made a pledge to try to give supporters some influence at board level if they came into power, they’ve had football task forces before that have ultimately failed in their endeavours.
While the Football Supporters Federation and Supporter’s Direct exist to represent fans and supporter groups, recently an additional organisation Football Action Network (F.A.N.) was launched to operate as an open, unbureaucratic network of football activists – including supporters’ trusts, independent fan groups, fanzines, campaigners in the women’s game and advocates for grassroots football.
While still in their infancy, FAN supported MOMS campaign against the BBC in response to their hysterical and irresponsible TV and online coverage of Villa supporter’s celebrations, and this week they announced in the Guardian their manifesto to tie in to the general election.
In many ways football has become a metaphor for society at large.
As author and journalist David Goldblatt stated in his Guardian blog to announce F.A.N.’s This Game is Our Game manifesto:
‘Does anything expose our sharply divided economy better than football, where a tiny elite sequesters the gains of globalisation but can’t pay its part‑time staff a living wage?’ Is there any sphere of popular culture where we seem, so consistently, to dramatise issues of gender, ethnicity and class?’
It is this football microcosm of society that makes MOMS tick, after all supporter issues are a lot more interesting and relevant than those who are mere transients at the club like the players or staff.
We support on the whole what FAN proposes and the entire Football Manifesto can be found on the next page.
Goldblatt describes the manifesto’s motivation as:
‘This Game is Our Game offers a model of a more just and socially responsible football economy; a more democratic and effective system of governance; a football culture that is diverse, atmospheric and participatory. This manifesto looks to politicians of every party, the football authorities and the public to make it happen. Football, like everything else in this country, could be different and could be better.’
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