England

Futsal in Scotland: What’s the Problem?

Futsal, Futsala or Futebol de Salão, is a game played on a field the same size of a basketball court. It is played with a smaller sized ball (size 2 or 3), which is heavier in weight (roughly 465g) and has virtually no bounce. The game has been valorized for its ability to create an environment in which players will gain 600% more touches on the ball and has single handedly developed the ‘natural ability’ of some of the world’s best players. The truth is that there is nothing ‘natural’ about it! Futsal, its rules, pitch size, ball size, squad size etc etc etc has and will continue to create and nurture the best footballing talent in the world.

So why on earth are we not copying the formula of soccer success?

Tonight, England will take on Scotland in the World Cup Qualifiers and I couldn’t be any less excited if I tried! And I’m not the only one. Adrian Durham, football journalist and broadcaster, slammed the England national squad selection and felt Southgate’s choices were ‘unimpressive and underwhelming’. As a Scotland fan, of course my home nation, I would love to tell you how eager I am to watch the game but truly I couldn’t give two monkeys! Sure, an underdog story is on the cards but in reality tonight’s fixture only shows the poor quality of player that both nations have produced in the past two, maybe three, decades. Where is Denis Law, King Kenny Dalglish, Jimmy ‘Jinky’ Johnstone, Dave McKay, Billy Bremner, Jim Baxter and the list goes on!  Guys who could dribble a ball around 10 men in a telephone box! Where has it gone? There is no one in the England squad or the Scotland squad that excites me or entertains a crowd the way that those guys could, and it worries me and has done for years!

Fancy fields at Toryglen in Glasgow, the Orium in Edinburgh, St George’s Park just outside London and even the newly built Wembley Stadium haven’t produced or even witnessed players like the legends of old (auld) listed above. It’s sad. We spend our time and effort focusing on big budgets, and the need to fund this and the need to fund that when all that the single greatest footballing nation in the world are doing is sitting there with their thumbs up their arses as young boys and girls, of their own accord, grab a ball, create some make shift goals and play the game for the games sake! That single greatest footballing nation I am referring to is of course the mighty Canarinho, the Verde-Amarela, Pentacampeões…..The Brazilian National Football Team.

5 times World Champions. I’ll repeat that. 5 times World Champions.

We know how they’re doing it. I’ll repeat that. We know how they are doing it. But we appear to continue with the dull and utterly tedious notion that this formula cannot be repeated in Scotland. Why?

“We don’t get the right weather in Scotland”

“The kids are nae interested anymere!”

“It’s in the genes, you’ve either goat it or you’ve no!”

Pish!! How many times have you sat in a pub and heard this nonsense!

Jimmy Johnstone had it, Jim Baxter had it. In the month of June 1967, after winning the European cup, 100,000 fans at the Bernabéu Stadium stood and applauded the wee man, and couldn’t give a jot about Alfredo Di Stefano. Jimmy stole the show with an unforgettable performance that had even the Madrid supporters chanting “Olé!” throughout the game in appreciation of his marvelous flair and footwork.

Now I realise Jimmy was special, and I may be asking too much but we done it once, in fact we’ve produced these players time and time again, so why has production stopped?

In the same year Jimmy had the Bernabéu on its feet, Jim Baxter had Wembley Stadium up in arms. Baxter teased the newly crowned World Champions by keeping the ball in the air mid game before passing it on to Denis Law, who probably wondered if he was ever going to give the ball up. Now if any Scottish player was to replicate Baxter’s cheeky keepie uppy trick this evening I would be most willing to run down the pub to watch the game, but it simply won’t happen.

It’s like we’ve forgotten how to play, or indeed why we played in the first place and I believe Futsal holds the answers to our questions.

More contact time with the ball, keeping control of it in tighter, smaller spaces creating an environment in which decision making is the principle focus. The decisions you make in the game and the faster you can think is the only way you will out smart and beat your opponent. Neymar, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez, probably the four best players in the world right now, are all products of this small sided and simple game.

Now, Scotland has taken steps to introduce Futsal however there are still some problems. The Scottish Futsal League, founded in 1997, partnered with the Scottish FA to deliver an “Adult Futsal League structure within Scotland”. Now this is all well and good, and it is great that there are now almost 700 adults playing futsal in six leagues across Scotland however this won’t benefit our national team, or indeed our national league, in the long term. Kids are the future, and they are the ones who need to be participating in this sport if we are to develop any real future football prospects.

Give credit where credit is due, the Scottish FA have now implemented a six-hour Futsal coaching course, called ‘Introduction to Futsal’. The course is open to anyone over the age of 16 and will focus on theoretical background, including the rules and history of the sport, as well as covering the various practical techniques. Having this structure in place can only benefit our appreciation and involvement in Futsal, but is it enough? Hopefully this course will quickly develop, and with time I hope it can expand to create its own unique coaching pathway within the Scottish FA coaching structure. The good thing is that Futsal is growing in popularity and now has a place in Scottish sport but its popularity, structure and presence needs to be far greater if we are to achieve any success.

Another keen development to be admired is the set-up of the Scottish Youth Futsal Federation. The federation was founded in 2015 and was created to promote futsal in Scotland while supporting local, regional, national and, recently, international youth futsal events. The focus is on young footballers’ participation, specifically reaching out to boys and girls from U9s to U17s. During the month of September, the SYFF hosted the IFA Youth Futsal World Cup in Dundee at the Dundee International Sports Centre. This is a tremendous achievement and a huge step in the right direction. There is no doubt that young people are picking up a futsal and getting involved, but there is still more to be done. Most young players are involved at club level, and unfortunately we find that most of the time these young players will get less contact time with the ball because they are engaged in fitness sessions or SAQ, when right now at the early stages all young players need is touches of the baw (ball)!

It’s no secret that across Britain futsal has struggled to gain sponsorship and valuable financial structure however with the set-up of these organisations Scotland may just have got the leg up on the competition. Tennents’ Wellpark Brewery, a famous Glasgow brewing company, sponsors the Scottish National Futsal League and now the Scottish National Futsal Team, whilst additional support also comes from Spanish sports clothing manufacturer, Joma. Again, this shows the tremendous effort being made to develop futsal in Scotland and truly highlights the growing popularity of Scottish futsal.

I admire those who are trying to push Futsal in Scotland, because they are truly making a difference. To those who are running the Scottish Futsal League and growing the popularity of the sport, I commend you for doing what needs to be done. I strongly believe that Futsal is the answer to our problems. Not facilities or finance, just pure and simple game structure. Players need less time to think, and more time with the ball at their feet.

The success of Futsal in Scotland so far has been the organisation of the first-ever Scottish Futsal Cup, the implementation of the futsal specific coach education course, and the commitment to entering the Scotland National Futsal Team into the 2017 European Championships. These achievements highlight the work being done at all levels of the game, but we need to do so much more to gain the real, long term benefits of Futsal.

The real success, of course, would be the grand reopening of the production line that produced so many great Scottish footballers, that have been recognised the world over. It would be finding a player that can take on 2 or 3 players only to go back and take all of them on again and win. Just the way it used to be; now that would truly be a delight to see.

 

England v Scotland

World Cup Qualifier: Group F

11th November 2016

Kick off 7:45pm

 

Mon the Scotland!

Reference List 

http://braziliansoccerschools.co.uk/index.php

http://talksport.com/football/pathetic-state-affairs-listen-adrian-durhams-england-rant-drivetime-161107216426#wmb02JAZGHD4ggPV.99

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/get_involved/4197976.stm

http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_football.cfm?page=3970

http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_football.cfm?page=3498

http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_fa_news.cfm?page=1848&newsID=16266

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/local-sport/futsal-scotland-make-history-win-7856962#sPIL1YRTZUelFi3a.97

http://www.youthfootballscotland.co.uk/component/k2/item/18949-futsal-world-cup-comes-to-scotland.html

http://www.scottishyouthfutsal.co.uk/aboutsyff/

http://www.fourfourtwo.com/performance/training/neymar-jr-futsal-street-football-and-tricks

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Fan Ownership: What’s the Problem?

Fan Ownership is one of footballs biggest talking points at the present time. With dwindling attendances, rising ticket prices and teams going bust left, right and centre it is surely time to take action!

In the season 2011/2012 the then Scottish Premier League experienced a collective loss of over £10 million. Only two of the 10 teams analysed within the PWC report calculated a profit. Since then British football fans witnessed the collapse of Hearts of Midlothian and Rangers Football Club, two of Scotlands biggest names. During the football seasons from 2009 – 2014 Scottish footballs’ top tier has experience a loss of almost £40 million. Scottish Football has generated substantial losses in contrast to the other European football leagues. There have been similar cases of financial loss in England with regards to Leeds United, Portsmouth, Hereford, Wrexham and most recently Bolton Wanderers.

There are clearly problems with the ownership models largely in use at this current stage. The predominant models are split into two different types. There are ownership types; examples of this include benevolent family ownership and individual ownership, and there are company types; examples of this include public limited companies and private limited companies. These models share a common advantage towards either a single individual or a group of select individuals. There are obvious problems with the current models in place, therefore alternatives must be encouraged.

There are significant benefits to fan ownership. Fanatics, individuals who express a life long devotion to their club, and most supporters in broad terms provide stability and continuity in relation to financial backing. In most cases it is unlikely for a supporter to switch alliance to another club. Supporters, for the most part, remain constant. The benefit of this continuity is that the supporters are, for the most part, key investors in the company and have a significant impact on revenue. Supporters, and devoted fans, will not turn their back on their clubs. Private investors are known to let clubs, fans and communities down by mismanaging business; this is most notable in the case of Manchester United Football Club with the takeover of the Glazer family, similar cases have occurred at Liverpool and Rangers Football Clubs. To resolve this, supporters must be encouraged to own their clubs.

“Results don’t matter; I mean you’re always going to support

your football club no matter what.”

(Cork City fan, 2015)

Supporters influence their club massively. Even with the absence of fan ownership supporters engage in and influence all aspects of their club, including the clubs culture and identity. For most supporters the clubs stadium is the epicentre of their cultural expression and regional pride. It is within the realms of the football ground that supporters will express their undying support for their team. Importantly, the financial influence of the supporters comes predominantly from gate money. It is clear from a number of reports that supporters’ involvement is crucial to the financial gain of any football club. Supporters’ are fundamental to the process which allows football clubs to maximise their potential returns. The loyalty of supporters is often exploited to generate finance for the club. Merchandise is tailored to fan interests and supporters are given no choice but to pay extortionate ticket prices. This is not in the best interest of those who devote all their efforts to the club they love: the fans. There surely has to be a resolution.

FINANCIAL MISMANAGEMENT

A contemporary example of supporter mistreatment is the case of Leeds United Football club. The Yorkshire side have experienced financial plight for the worst part of 15 years. Despite having a unified Supporters Trust (Leeds Fans United), chairman and majority share holder Massimo Cellino has halted the supporters’ bid for their club. After agreeing to sell the club to the Leeds United Fans trust in October 2015, the controversial Chairman changed his mind a month later and withdrew his interest. The Leeds supporters were subjected to further financial and managerial mistreatment in early December 2015, when Cellino imposed a £5 increase in ticket price. This inflated price included a food voucher to be used at half time, which would be used as an incentive to encourage supporters to use the clubs catering facilities regardless of whether the loyal supporter wanted the half time pie or not. This incentive provides support for fan ownership in football. Leeds United is one case out of a multitude of others. Supporters and their clubs are experiencing a complete lack of communication and consultation. Supporters are being completely disregarded and ignored with regards to decisions that affect them. Importantly, the more fans continue to be excluded from ownership the more they become disenfranchised from their football clubs. To discourage the club from fan ownership is to discourage the club from gaining any form of stability and transparency.

“It’s now all about the football. It’s not even the case of like; I don’t go around the place saying ‘oh I run a football club’, because you know that’s not part of it.

But just for me as a fan, who’s gone through all the shite with bad owners, for me knowing that my club will never be in that situation again because its fan owned is fantastic.”

(Cork City fan, 2015)

HAPPIER TIMES

There are certainly indications that fan ownership is met with a positive response from the majority of fans. In my opinion football will only be better when owned by its supporters. However there are certainly negatives amongst the positives. There is a huge question as to whether or not supporter associations can control, or at least affect, the power within the board room. Can the representative individual, or individuals, successfully engage in important decisions especially when these representatives are likely to be the ‘outsider’ on the board. Furthermore, supporter associations have even been accused of exploiting their own clubs by forming unfavourable alliances with board members who possess majority shares in order to strengthen their own authority. When instances like this have occurred it has naturally caused distrust amongst supporters, which has a negative effect on transparency and assurance.

However, there are too many positive examples of supporter ownership that greatly outweigh any such negatives. Hereford FC dropped out of the Football League through relegation in 2012 and since then the supporters were made to endure three seasons of financial mismanagement under two different owners in David Keyte, who refused to sell to the Hereford United Supporters Trust, and Tommy Agombar. Under Agombar’s rein Hereford was ejected from non league football due to large sums of debt and in December 2014 Hereford FC collapsed. Since 2015 under fan ownership, Hereford FC, have created a sustainable future attracting no fewer than 2,000 members, the club have acquired kit sponsorship and have even obtained possession of Edgar Street stadium, the ground the original club used since 1924. Fan ownership has brought sustainability, democracy, inclusion and continuity to the club. There are many examples of this positive change in the light of supporter ownership at other clubs, such as FC United of Manchester and Portsmouth FC, which is why I strongly believe supporters’ should be given the right to own their club.

FAN OWENRSHIP: THIS IS OUR TIME! 

Majority ownership has led to the collapse of many British football clubs. Supporters’ loyalty and devotion to their clubs have been exploited by owners, and the common aspiration for success has been employed as a rational explanation for groundless, unreasonable and unmanageable economic abuse.

There are successful cases of fan ownership at both the bottom and top end of professional football. Importantly, there are far too many cases of bad ownership.

Football, is about community. British football must regain this sentiment.  The supporters, the people who invest time and money into their club, should be the ones who own it and make decisions in regards to what is best for their club. A great man once said “Football without fans it nothing.”, and never have those words resonated more with football supporters than right now. Everyone who loves this game has a responsibility to take a good hard look at themselves and ask, ‘What am I doing to make a difference?’.

 

 

References

BBC Sport (2015a) ‘Massimo Cellino: Leeds chairman calls off plan to sell club to fans’, BBC Sport website  http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/34721028 accessed on 7 December 2015

BBC Sport (2015b) ‘Hereford FC: New club to play in Midland Football League’, BBC Sport website http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/32740977 accessed on 8 December 2015

BBC Sport (2015c) ‘Hereford FC supporters crucial to future of phoenix club’, BBC Sport website http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/33500060 accessed on 8 December 2015

BBC Sport (2015d) ‘Hereford FC shirt sponsor deal agreed for new season’, BBC Sport website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hereford-worcester-33067824 accessed on 8 December 2015

Beech, J. (2010) ‘Finance in the football industry’, in S., Hamil and S., Chadwick (Eds.), Managing football: An international perspective, Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford.

Begbies Traynor (2015) Begbies Traynor Red Flag Alert Football Distress Report: Scottish Football League – March 2015, University of Stirling website https://succeed.stir.ac.uk/webapps/blackboard/execute/content/file?cmd=view&content_id=_712405_1&course_id=_10330_1 accessed on 3 December 2015

Fitzpatrick, C (2013) ‘The struggle for grassroots involvement in football club governance: experiences of a supporter-activist’, Soccer and Society, Vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 201 – 214.

FourFourTwo (2015) ‘“Come on both teams!” Westfields vs Hereford’, FourFourTwo. November 2015, pp. 60 – 64.

Garcia, B & Welford, J. (2015) ‘Supporters and football governance, from customers to stakeholders: A literature review and agenda for research’, Sport Management Review, Vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 517 – 528.

Giulianotti, R. (2002) ‘Supporters, followers, fans, and flaneurs: a taxonomy of spectator identities in football’, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 25 – 46

Kennedy, P. (2012a) ‘Supporters Direct and supporters’ governance of football: a model for Europe?’, Soccer and Society, Vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 409 – 425.

Kennedy, P & Kennedy, D. (2012) ‘Football supporters and the commercialisation of football: comparative responses across Europe’, Soccer and Society, Vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 327 – 340.

Kennedy, D. (2012b) ‘Football stadium relocation and the commodification of football: the case of Everton supporters and their adoption of the language of commerce’, Soccer and Society, Vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 341 – 358.

Margalit, A. (2009) ‘“You’ll Never Walk Alone”: On property, community, and football fans’, Theoretical Inquiries in Law, Vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 217-240.

Morrow, S. (2015) ‘Football finances’ in J., Goddard and P., Sloane (Eds) Handbook of the Economics of Football. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham.

Morrow, S. (2015) ‘Power and logics in Scottish football: the financial collapse of Rangers FC’, Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 325 – 343.

Morrow, S. (2012) ‘The financial collapse of Rangers: lessons for the business of football’, Perspectives, Vol. 33, pp. 15-18.

PWC (2013) Turbulent times ahead: Scottish Premier League Football, The University of Stirling website https://succeed.stir.ac.uk/webapps/blackboard/execute/content/file?cmd=view&content_id=_712403_1&course_id=_10330_1 accessed on 2 December 2015

Szymanski, S. (2015) Money and football: A soccernomics guide, Nation Books, New York

 The Guardian (2015) ‘Leeds fans up in arms at imposition of £5 pie tax in South Stand, The Guradian website http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/dec/02/leeds-united-pie-tax-massimo-cellino accessed on 7 December 2015

The Independent (2015) ‘Massimo Cellino will not sell Leeds United until next year’, The Independent website http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/live-match-centre/championship/massimo-cellino-will-not-sell-leeds-united-until-next-year-a6743241.html accessed on 7 December 2015

The Scottish Government (2015) Consultation on Supporter Involvement in Scottish Football Clubs, The Scottish Government website http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0048/00486130.pdf accessed on 2 December 2015

The Telegraph (2015) ‘Leeds United’s pie tax is an abuse of supporters’ loyalty’, The Telegraph website http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/leeds-united/12032063/Leeds-Uniteds-pie-tax-is-an-abuse-of-supporters-loyalty.html accessed on 7 December 2015

 UEFA (2015) The European Club Footballing Landscape: Club licensing benchmarking report financial year 2014, The UEFA website http://www.uefa.org/MultimediaFiles/Download/Tech/uefaorg/General/02/29/65/84/2296584_DOWNLOAD.pdf accessed on 2 December 2015

Working Group Report (2015) Supporter Involvement in Football Clubs, The Scottish Government website http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0046/00469245.pdf accessed on 2 December 2015

Working Group Report (2014) Key Messaging Document – ownership and governance in Scottish Football, The Scottish Government website http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0045/00453211.pdf accessed on 2 December 2015

Copa90 (2015) Cork City FC – The Rise of the Rebel Army, YouTube website https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9t-Iq-2uiTU accessed on 19 January 2016

 

 

 

THE GREAT ESCAPE: Champions League Preview

Olympiakos v Arsenal, Wednesday 9th December (7.45pm KO)

 

Arsenal require a win against the Greek outfit this evening to progress through to the last 16 of the Champions League knock out stages.

 

Last night Manchester United crashed out of Europe’s elite football competition after a 3 – 2 away defeat to VfLWolfsburg. This sent shockwaves around Britain. How could a club of this stature be prematurely KO’d from the Champions League, a competition they won merely 7 years ago?

 

Will the Gunners suffer the same fate?

 

Arsenal can only qualify for the last 16 as Group F runners-up if they better Olympiakos 3-2 win at the Emirates.

 

A 1-0 or 2-1 win will not be enough. The Gunners require 3-2 or a higher score line to give them a better head-to-head record than their Greek rivals in the group.

 

With this score line, Arsenal would then finish above Olympiakos on overall goal difference.

 

The Stats

  • In Greece, Arsenal have drawn one and lost four of their last five games

 

  • The Gunners have won seven and lost four of their last 13 European away fixtures

 

  • Olympiakos are aiming to progress to the knock out stages of the Champions League for the second time in three seasons.

 

  • Olympiakos are currently unbeaten in six home Champions League ties against English opposition; winning five of those games

 

YOU GOTTA HAVE FAITH!!

 

There have been many great escapes in Champions League folklore, from which Arsenal can draw strength.

 

Here are some of the best.

 

FC PORTO 2003/2004

 

FC Porto after being crowned UEFA Cup winners in season 2002/2003 began their attack on the UEFA Champions League under the leadership of a young, Jose Mourinho.

 

The Portuguese side did not get off to a good start in their first group game against Partizan. Porto drew one all with the Serbians in their away fixture. There home leg against Real Madrid seen Jose Mourinho’s side hammered 3 – 1. All seemed lost, until the young Mourinho wielded his magic and defeated French side, Marseille in a double header (3 – 2 away then 1 – 0 at home). Porto would later go on to win 2 – 1 at home against Partizan and draw with Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

After the home defeat to Real Madrid left the Portugese side one point from two games all seemed lost. But eventually, Porto stormed through the competition taking a staggering 10 points from a possible 12.

 

Porto went on to reach the final in Germany, and were crowned the Champions of Europe defeating Monaco 3 – 0.

 

LIVERPOOL 2004/2005

 

In their opening group match Liverpool comfortably won 2 – 0 against Monaco. The Reds struggled to pick up points in Greece however, and Olympiakos finished them off with a 1 – 0 win. Liverpool again struggled to make the grade, and drew 0 – 0 at Anfield against Deportivo La Coruna. That meant Liverpool had only taken four points in three games.

 

In the return leg against Deportivo away, Liverpool won 1 – 0. However defeat at Monaco meant that Liverpool required a victory by two clear goals against Olympiakos (sound familiar?).

 

Liverpool initially went behind after a well worked Rivaldo free kick. This set piece set the stage for one of the most dramatic comebacks in Liverpool’s and Champions League history.

 

Liverpool scored two minutes after the game restarted through Florent Sinama-Pongolle. The second goal came from Neil Mellor who scored in the 81st minute. The Reds needed a goal, and who better to pop up and deliver it than Captain Fantastic himself – Steven George Gerrard.

 

25 yards out, dying minutes of the game, in front of the Kop and boom – GOAL!!

 

3 – 1 Liverpool.

 

Of course, if you know your history, the Reds later went on to produce arguably the greatest Champions League final ever. Does anyone remember the certain heroics of one Jerzy Dudek? Simply unforgettable.

 

WERDER BREMEN 2005/2006

 

The German side collected merely four points from five games during their Champions League campaign. Going into their final fixture against Greek side Panathinaikos they needed a victory, of four or more goals and Barcelona to beat Italian side Udinese. To summarise, they needed a miracle. And by God, did they get one.

 

The Germans battered Panathinaikos 5 – 1, they has done their bit. Barcelona however left it late to seal a victory over Udinese, scoring twice in the final 5 minutes of the match.

 

Bremen would later be knocked out by Juventus in the last 16 but they gave us a hell of moment to remember.

 

OLMPIAKOS V ARSENAL 2015/2016

 

Will there be another great escape?

 

Arsenal awaits their fate this evening. If they do drop out of the competition it will be the first time in 16 consecutive seasons.

 

The Gunners will have to progress without star striker Alexi Sanchez and midfielder Santi Carzola. Arsenal did secure a comfortable 3 – 1 at home against Sunderland at the weekend taking the London side to 2nd place in the Premier League. They will have to build on that confidence and their success in domestic competition to give them any sort of chance of completing the great escape.

 

“Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be.

The Future’s not ours to see. Que sera, sera!”

 

Homophobia in Football: What’s the problem?

(I would like to highlight that the following information is drawn from a football perspective within England)

 

“If a player did come out, I think everyone would be supportive, but I’m 100% sure that people in the changing room would be joking, and that some would be ripping it out of him.  If there’s a gay player in our changing room, I’d understand why he wouldn’t come out.”

(Anonymous, professional League One player)

 

BBC Sport reported yesterday that Premier League executive Richard Scudamore supports the idea that openly gay footballers would be treated with respect in the Premier League.

 

This was a bold assumption from Scudamore, who has held his position as Chief Executive at the top flight of English Association Football for 16 years. Scudamore believed openly gay footballers would be treated with “tolerance” and “that the time would be right” to come out.

 

The Chief Executive however appeared ill informed on the subject. When discussing the gay footballer “coming out”, Scudamore questioned whether this language was appropriate and consistently referred to openly gay players as “them” and “they”.

 

There is only one openly gay player in English football. His name is Liam Davis, and he plays for Gainsborough Trinity. In an interview with BBC Sport in January 2014 Davis spoke about a fairly positive response from his team mates, opposition and fans. Davis stated that on the one occasion that he did encounter abuse from an opposition player, the player apologised for his behaviour after the match via a text message. During an interview with the Lincolnshire Echo Davis expressed his wishes that professional footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger would have “came out” before retiring in 2013. Davis did however admit, that the closer you get to the top flight then the harder it will be for players to be open about homosexuality due to greater media coverage and increased fan exposure. Davis seemed to be in the perfect community club environment to “come out”, and has received massive support from family, friends, team mates and the football club itself. However, the same cannot be said for others. And the fact of the matter is, out of the 2 million adults who participate in football every week in England only one is openly gay despite 1.5% of the English population being homosexual or bisexual. This does not support Scudmore’s statement, and it is plainly obvious that the environment in England is not entirely suitable for homosexual footballers.

 

Thomas Hitzlsperger, the former Aston Villa and German national player, also received positive responses upon coming out to the public.  This is a great thing, however Hitzlsperger never experience a match day response inside a Premier League stadium. So there is no telling how a crowd would respond. I would like to think the reaction would be positive, but past experience tells us otherwise. Justin Fashanu, England U21 International, came out as homosexual in 1990 – he was the first footballer to do so in the United Kingdom. He committed suicide at the age of 37, tragically, as a response to his sexuality.

 

Fundamentally, the difficulty with this subject is that gay footballers are the invisible minority. Popular football magazine FourFourTwo reported a survey of professional footballers who responded to the question, “Do you know any gay players?” 11% of the 123 players asked responded “Yes”.  (Please note that some Scottish Premier League players responded to this survey)

 

“A player confided in me and came out. I’ve kept my mouth shut. It’s none of my business. It’s no one’s business.”

 

This one response from a professional League Two player highlights the eagerness to protect gay footballers. This may seem like an act of kindness, but personally I believe this suggests a lack of tolerance in the English game.

 

The Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) was formed in 1989, “as a social network for LGB&T football fans across the UK.” The organisation uses football as a tool to tackle “homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia” on and off the football field. It has helped to establish LGBT supporters clubs, assisting the development of an inclusive and equal football fan experience. London based clubs, Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspurs, are two such clubs with LGBT supporters groups. The Gay Gooners and The Proud Lilywhites are the clubs official LGBT fan communities. These fierce rivals share solidarity and a common goal to create a safe and inclusive fan environment. BBC Newsbeat investigated LGBT supporters clubs in the Premier League in August this year. Excluding Arsenal FC, who formed the first Premier League LGBT group in 2013, BBC Newsbeat asked the remaining 19 clubs “if they had an official one connected with the club”. From the 11 respondents, 4 chose not to answer the question, 5 said that yes they did have LGBT fan groups and the remaining two stated that they didn’t have one at the current time.

 

Proud Lily Whites.jpg

 

GFSN have stressed that Premier League clubs are not doing enough to support their fans. Ed Connell, GSFN Chairman, is shocked at the number of Premier League clubs and officials (such as Richard Scudamore) who believe that homophobia in football is not a problem. Out of the Fields conducted the first International Study on homophobia in sport. The results were posted in May this year and despite the majority opinion, out of more than 9,000 people in the United Kingdom 77% claimed they had “witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport”.

 

Back to Richard Scudamore, the man who places blind faith on football and football fans to “tolerate” homosexuality. The statistics show little proof that coming out will be welcomed in English football. I hope I am proven incorrect, but I simply cannot support Scudamore’s thoughts. It is clear that we have a number of gay footballers who do not want to come out, for whatever reason. Clearly they are known to other professionals who they work with on a daily basis but they will not expose themselves to fans or the media. This highlights a significant problem with homosexual inclusion in English sport, particularly football. This problem isn’t exclusive to the football players alone, and football fans are seeking new ways to enjoy the sport that they love. Homosexual, bisexual and transgender fans are forming LGBT supporters groups in order to feel safe in Premier league grounds, and yet clubs, officials and executives are still denying that there is a problem. Without a shadow of a doubt Scudamore’s comments are ill informed and misjudged. I cannot say that I am a member of an LGBT group, but if I was I would not be very happy with my league executive for completely downplaying a very serious problem within football.

 

 

 

Reference

 

http://www.lincolnshireecho.co.uk/Gainsborough-Trinity-s-Liam-Davis-openly-gay/story-20431222-detail/story.html

 

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/reality-check/2013/oct/03/gay-britain-what-do-statistics-say

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/87288.stm

 

http://www.gfsn.org.uk/news/beta-gay-players-11-of-players-know-one.html

 

http://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/news/formation-of-lgbandampt-fan-group-060214/

 

http://www.arsenal.com/fanzone/gay-gooners

 

https://proudlilywhites.wordpress.com/

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/33760649/footballs-lgbt-fans-want-more-help-from-clubs

 

http://outonthefields.com/

 

 

Half and half shirts: what’s the problem?

_86486330_halfhalf1A wind – up? An expression of dual identity? Or an expression of the impact of the global football market?
Many ridicule such an image, of a ‘football fan’ sporting a shirt with two club emblems on the chest, however you may be more alike than first thought.
How many people can truly say now that they support their local team? How many people even support their regional, or indeed their national team?
There is an ever increasing number of football fans supporting teams who occupy Europe, predominantely teams from Europes BIG FIVE, notably in Germany, Spain, Italy, France and England.
Mass media has allowed us to be consumed by football events, heroes and villians. Everyday we are emerged in a spectacle of footballing prowess, and those teams with the greatest amount of money and the greatest amount of power possess the loudest voice in our social world. It is therefore probable to assume that football is no longer as community based and tribal as it once was. Globalisation and immigration has been a huge factor in this also.
Is this a good thing?
Many people agree, and feel positively about getting away from footballs ‘tribal’ elements. Possibly believing it will alleviate violence, and ethinic difference.
Is it a bad thing?
Well it is changing the culture of the game. Fans are now involving themselves in the business of football like never before, and are being commodified by the vast media market. This goes against the age old tradition of being ‘born’ a fan which is charaterised by common footballing tales such as ‘cut me and i’ll bleed (insert team colours)’, ‘my Dad was a (insert team name) fan, so I am’ or ‘I was born here, so I support (insert team name)’.
Traditional fans don’t like this commodification of football fans, and more importantly they don’t like that “fans” are buying into it. Many struggle with the concept of having a ‘second team’. To many it’s unthinkable, but in the modern world it’s ordinary.
IMO.
I would love to live in a world without sky sports. I would love to have seen an international match with a minimum of 100,000 people standing under one roof watching the sport I love (From 1906 – 1914 Scotland v England managed this feat: never less than 100,000 attendance during this time).
Alas, these are changed days and we live in the age of digital media. However, I must side with the traditionalists. With dwindelling numbers at football grounds, and complete lack of local and national talent in the United Kingdom I only worry that collective identities soon become extinct. Of course football must celebrate multiculture diversity, which football has aspired to since the Bosman ruling (1995), but it should never lose sight of local and regional pride and identity.
All that from one kit, eh?
PLEASE LEAVE COMMENTS AND THOUGHTS BELOW.

“WE COULD HAVE HAD TEN” – THE WEMBLEY WIZARDS, 1928

ON THIS DAY:

31st March 1928. Some 87 years ago, Scotland played England in the British Home Championship at a packed Wembley Stadium (80, 868).

Scotland in their previous two fixtures had lost 1 – 0 to Northern Ireland, and drew 2 – 2 with Wales. England also failed to get off to a successful start losing to both Northern Ireland and Wales.

Despite Scotland being a point ahead of the ‘Auld Enemy’, the Scots still feared they would finish bottom of the table facing the challenge of beating England, the previous winners of the British Home Championship, on home soil.

If the thought of facing the previous winners wasn’t fearful enough, the team selection certainly was. Left out of the 11 man squad were Davie Meiklejohn (Rangers FC, 409 app), Jimmy McGrory (Celtic FC, 378 app and 395 goals), Bob McPhail (Rangers FC – record of 230 goals only to be beaten by Ally McCoist in 1997) and Willie McStay (Celtic FC, 4 League titles and 3 Scottish Cups).

These players were considered as HOME SCOTS, players who were Scottish who played in the Scottish Football League.

The players that were favoured were the ANGLO SCOTS, Scottish players who played their football around other parts of Britain.

In place of the HOME SCOTS were 8 Football League players. One of which was Tom ‘Tiny’ Bradshaw who would be making his Scotland debut at Wembley against the famous Dixie Deans.

Dixie made 399 appearances for Everton, scoring 349 goals.

Scotland, inevitably, were deemed NO MATCH FOR ENGLAND!

That was until the rain.

Scotland’s captain, Jimmy McMullan, took his team for a talk the night before the game. He famously said:

“The President wants us to discuss football but you all know what’s expected of you tomorrow. All I’ve got to say is, go to your bed, put your head on your pillow and pray for rain.”

It did nae rain but it POURED!!

The rain was always going to favour the small Scots who could easily twist and turn away from the tall men of England.

3 minutes!! 3 minutes in and the Scots had taken the lead with an Alex Jackson header.

Just before half time and the Scots went 2 – 0 up through an Alex James left footed shot.

You wouldn’t believe what you were seeing.

This was never meant to happen. Every pundit in the world would have put their granny on England to win!

Even the Scottish fans! In fact some of them probably did.

Jackson grabbed his second on the 65th minute, as did James in the 74th minute, and Jackson rounded off the hat trick in the 85th.

England would end the game with a mere consolation goal.

The game would finish 5 – 1 to the Scots. The Wembley Wizards had been born.

Sadly this great team would never play together again and for Tony Bradshaw, despite keeping Everton’s son Dixie Deans at bay, it would be his only cap for Scotland.

These players will forever go down in history as giving one of Scottish Footballs greatest ever performances in the dark blue. It was one of thee most remarkable victories of its time, and 87 years on it remains one of the Scots best victories against England.

The 1928 Wembley Wizards:

Jack Harkness (Queens Park)
James Nelson (Cardiff City)
Tommy Law (Chelsea)
Jimmy Gibson (Aston Villa)
Tom Bradshaw (Bury)
Jimmy McMullan (Manchester City) CAPTAIN
Alex Jackson (Huddersfield Town)
James Dunn (Hibernian)
Hughie Gallagher (Newcastle United)
Alex James (Preston North End)
Alan Morton (Rangers FC)

REMEMBER THE NAME. REMEBER THE HEROES.

“Scotland, Bonnie Scotland – Forever”