Observer Sport Monthly
I was enjoying last months cover story (The Big Sell Out, August) right up until the penultimate column when Tom Bower stated: "The difference is that football is not a utility or a bank, but part of the fabric of England"
I will briefly mention the argument that people's lives are significantly more at risk from real harm by utility price rises and these companies being run for the benefit of foreign shareholders. If a season ticket is priced out of person's means they have less enjoyment in their lives, if food or financial services are, they could freeze or starve.
The real issue here is to respond on the authors own turf, football being part of our society, especially as the outgoing editor was defending the amount of coverage the sport was getting. For comparison with what follows Football in approximately this form has been part of our lives for 150 years, I can use no other date as I am writing this in Sheffield. Firstly to directly rebut the two sectors Tom mentioned, banking is a difficult one to pin down a starting point on, but the founding of the London Royal Exchange was in 1565 to bring banking services together seems a good point, it implies that there was a significant sector beforehand but it works for my point as it points out banking has been part of the fabric of England for three times longer than football as we know it today. As for utilities, I got as far as a dimly remembered lesson at school about London's water and the New River company in the first two decades of the seventeenth century. Of course the New River was quite literally part of the fabric of the country and around two and a half centuries before the Sheffield Rules.
Casting the net wider, I feel that there is an intrinsic part of British life that is under far greater threat than football, having been with us for hundreds of years, massively popular with all sectors of society since the middle ages and with the oldest extant company dating from 1698. Brewing in this country has come under sustained, well financed attack recently. We should be campaigning loudly for the American, Belgian and other foreign money out of brewing because of the risk to the performance of our native beer styles.
After all the worst case scenario for the foreign money in football is an under-performing England team and that sounds no different from all the years where the top flight clubs were owned by our citizens does it?