Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Football and Capitalist Realism

Via Will in the comments here, go and read this.
"Fans dream now not of their club being revivified by some Brian Clough-like managerial genius, but of it being saved by the largesse of a bored plutocrat. Barcelona famously have no shirt sponsor, and display the logo of UNICEF on their jerseys. United’s shirt sponsor is AIG, the insurance company at the heart of the financial crisis (according to The Economist, AIG’s “tentacles reach into every part of the economy.”) The neoliberal anti-utopia disintegrated with the bank bail-outs, even though it survives in an undead form as a set of defaults which continue to dominate social reality."


Anonymous said...

Although the point about Barcelona vs. Man Utd is slightly undermined by the fact that Barca FC is just as rich a club as Man Utd -

The Plump said...

The Barca/United comparison is too easy.

United's wealth has come from the fans; the fans who were attracted by the Busby Babes and the tradition of attacking, flamboyant football, and who stayed with them (just) when times were crap. And though they were the first into merchandising and attracting a following from outside Manchester, still the majority of match day fans are local. They have never had plutocratic owners piling money into the club. They have always been owned by people taking money out - a family of Salford butchers, a PLC and now Americans milking the club to pay their debts as it accrues value.

And how did they get to their current status? 25 years of mediocrity were ended by the appointment of a working class, Labour voting, Thatcher hating, vaguely paranoid, former Govan shop steward as manager. Not only that, but he was a Rangers player who married a Catholic. Not someone as romanticised as the admittedly great Clough though.

Now, if you want a symbol of what United stand for, it is a concerted campaign by those very fans against the owners of the club, even abandoning red and white to show their love of United and hatred of the Glazers. It is a rebellion in favour of some form of fan ownership in partnership with anyone who can get the club out of the grasping hands of the owners. (not something I notice happening at Chelsea or Manchester City).

As for the Barcelona model, as an opponent of populism and a supporter of representative democracy, I would have thought the German model would be closer to your ideals.

But yes, the article touched the nerve of the horrible transformation of football in this country by the greedy, uncompetitive and alienating premiership model.

james said...

It's a shame Mark doesn't mention that there are supporters trusts across the country trying to gain a collective stake in the club for the fans - democratic socialism in action.