Wednesday, 29 October 2008

In Bed with Boris


Those that know me well will understand my focus on an issue that puts a negative spotlight on the nation's so-called favourite past-time. I stopped following football once I left school and to the shame of all my football-following friends I often suggest that a bit like wetting the bed this sport should be grown out of.

So, it gives me some delight to put the boot in (excuse the pun) except that I have to side slightly with Mad Boris Johnson to do so.

It appears that Boris is supporting the Fair Pay Network's campaign to urge Premier League clubs to pay a living wage to cleaning and catering staff.

It doesn't surprise me at all the the Clubs in turn feel that paying the minimum wage makes them very generous employers indeed.

There is more about the FPN campaign at:

One of my dislikes of football isn't so much the matter of hyperinflation in player salaries but more so that football fans display little capacity to organise in an industrial sense and channel this to air their grievances.

I understand that their capacity to 'bargain' is limited because of their reduced power due to widening global support and other sources of revenue. Despite this however, I have always thought (and please do tell me if I am wrong) that, opposed to the traditonal worker, a football fan's 'labour' is only required for a few short hours one day a week and for only one period of the year.

Given my lack of football knowledge my philosophical position on the manipulation of the game so it becomes a global commodity may be wrong.

However, my basic question is this. How can football fans, if at all, ally themselves to a campaign like that of FPN? And, is it likely that, regardless of any fan-led campaign, the leading clubs will ignore their position?

As usual I welcome feedback. I also expect my limited knowledge of the game to increase as those activists who are football fans rush to inform me that I am wrong.




Muhammed said...


Straying into unfamiliar territory here.

I think you are being blinded by your footie prejudice my old mate.

There are plenty of examples of footie fans binding together in pursuit of the common good.

The Kick Racism out of Football achievements to-date couldn't have happened without the support of fans.

Also, if you look at what the Football Supporters Federation ( series of campaigns represent you'll see that they focus on issues that reflect the broader concerns you refer to in your post like health and safety and match pricing.

Now then Ian, I know that you don't mind being told that you are wrong so, 'You are wrong'!


Alan said...

Hi Ian,

Like the last person said, not sure why you picked what you admit is unknown territory for you to deliberate on - and then to side with Boris Johnson - are you mad!

Anyway, football has moved on since you stopped wetting the bed and believe me fans are much more on the ball (excuse my pun).

You are being a bit too simplistic my old mate if you think you can translate the raw passion of the game to the disputed, bureauractic nature of workplace industrial relations. It just doesn't fit.

Visit a few of the official fan club web sites to discover how cohesive and coordinated they are.

In fact, to turn your position on its head, I'd argue that footie has something to tell the movement about the way, for example, you stick to something through the ups and downs.

Stick to your trips abroad and other easier topics in future.

See you on the advanced course where, I think, you probably owe me a drink for my wise words.



Ian Manborde said...


OK, you partly win. I did admit though that I was up for developing my understanding of why it is that several geezers chasing after a ball excites such passion.

I am a little more understanding of some forms of fan organisation than I was before.

I am also aware that, albeit in a limited way, any alliance with bozzer rings my blog death knell. It won't happen again.



Peter said...


This is an interesting debate you have started.

Like you, I am no fan of football, largely beacuse I have seen the game become the preserve of more wealthier fans.

And, as you say it has become the playground of billionaires.

No surprise then that, despite the excesses of the Premier League, workers at the bottom of the pile are hugely exploited.

Despite the work of bodies of FPN and FSF I would say that clubs, in the forms of the corporate entities they truly are, will still put the squeeze on fans and on support staff they employ.

I suppose the real test will be whether the clubs adopt the living wage standard. I won't be holding my breath.



TGWU Rep said...

I don't see why you can suppose that football fans (working class or not) should behave at a match as if they are class warrior automatons.

What philosophically or metaphyically links these two differing cultural spheres?

Ian - you have created a false argument. When we meet I'll help you understand why your 'logic' is flawed.

shop said...


Surely to god you should have known that anything that arse approves of will end up with you receiving the kind of e-mails you've had!