the beautiful investment

Throughout football’s history the sport has rarely been glamorous. The majority of games, played week in week out, by the 92 teams of the english football league are dirty, scrappy affairs. Cold food, warm beer and blind refs. The fact is, to be a real football fan(particularly a fan of club that has not secured long term investment or seen regular silverware lifted) is a struggle. Millions of fans,season after season, walk the tight rope between jaded pessimism and blind optimism, only to find their team(usually) somewhere between the top 2 and the bottom 3, with only the knowledge that we could of done it better, to keep us going til the start of the next season. January is the month when the once hidden now open struggle reaches its peak, the old jaded pessimists and the young optimists, lay bets on the inevitable rise or fall of their beloved club. More and more, however january is becoming the month when class-conscious football fans feel the need to ask themselves - do i really hope this private enterprise secures more investement than any other?

This time last year Queens Park Rangers were a struggling relegation favourite, on the verge of administration and seemingly without a chance of long term survival. Now according at the BBC at least QPR are now ‘the richest club on the planet’. Theyve spent the last fortnight flashing millions to replace the majority of their existing squad and putting together ‘4 year plans’ for premier league domination. All this has been made possible because QPR’s debts and desparation have made them a shrewd business opportunity for F1 moguls, flavio briatorre and bernie ecclestone and no other than lakshmi mittal, the 5th wealthiest man on the planet. In other words, the main attribute which QPR possessed was that it was cheap! Understandably, the majority of QPR fans are over the moon. Having prepared themselves for years for a world without the club they’ve spent their lifes supporting, it now seems, not only is the club financially secure but some fans have already begun discussing premiership and european football. In this case the optimists are undoubtably winning the war.

Maybe im just a romantic and im too young to know for sure, but please tell me there was a time when achievements in football were at least partly based on hard-work, die-hard support and dare i say it, desire on the part of the players and the manager to achieve, not to secure a lucrative transfer to a bigger club, but simply for the joy of success. As a class conscious football fan, i’ve long felt fully prepared for the effects of globilised market forces in the beautiful game. The chasm opening up between the top 4 or 5 teams and the rest of us, expected. The national game sidelined and funds following the more profitable premier league, expected. Fans priced out of games as tickets and even a pie and a pint become too expensive, expected. The mad scrambling for cash by all but the top clubs, expected. What i didnt expect was how quickly id have to come to terms with the effects id been so well prepared for.

So whats the answer. The benefits of fans ownership are obvious. Financially secure football, full accountabilty of players, managers and the board to the fans, democratic decisions made in the interests of the fans only. Great, the question is, how much damage will be done before fans become organised enough to wrestle control from corruptable boards and wealthy, powerful owners? will there be anything left to rebuild?. I dont know, but id assume that by the time the idea of fans ownership is discussed on mass, big business will be well and truly entrenched and wont give it up without a fight. So what else is there to say? - BRING IT ON!

oh and before i forget - COME ON STOKE!!!