When we write about football, we run for cover. But a new fanzine from the team that brought us Halcyon magazine made us realise we weren’t alone. Our jaded love of the beautiful game persists, but its grip is as tenuous as Southampton’s on the Premier League.
With jaw-popping infographics spelling out the spiraling costs of fandom, and intelligent analysis of the machinations of the football industry, Stand Against Modern Football takes the call to arms which has been growing in Europe over the past decade or so, and presents it in clear-eyed editorials, free from the hysteria of rabid, blinkered fandom. It isn’t red, it isn’t blue, but it’s passionately pro-football. We speak to co-editor Daniel Sandison…
So, what was the big idea?
‘Against Modern Football’ as a movement has been going on in Europe for years, and it had started to creep into British football more of late. People were becoming disgruntled with the price of the game, and how it has, in many ways, been taken out of the hands of the fans who made it what it is today. There are brilliant fanzines, from loads of different clubs, who have been banging the drum for years, but we thought it might be good to give these people a platform to write for fans of other clubs, and to be able to compare and contrast the problems that they face.
Don’t you think movements like this need insider support too? Aren’t our players and clubs complicit in this cancer?
To an extent it’s about waking up to the fact that your football club (the players, the board, the owner) don’t particularly care for you any more. Fans, or perhaps more aptly consumers, are disposable to many clubs and at the highest level simply boycotting the game means that you’ll be replaced by someone who’ll spend more money at the club shop, and on their ‘matchday experience’ beforehand.
What we’re trying to do certainly needs more outspoken people from within the game and what teams like FC United and AFC Wimbledon have done should act as an example to us. Without some influence from the people at the top though, it simply won’t change.
Launching a physical mag. That’s brave!
Yeah, mental really isn’t it.
A lot of what we’ve done would have been absolutely impossible without online content andsocial media, but our readership are the people who still buy fanzines and like to have something to hold onto. Fanzine culture is about rolling it up and sticking it in your back pocket before the match, lending it to your mates and spilling your pint all over it. We’ve not got the ability to sell them outside every ground in the country, but keeping it as a physical product maintains a bit of that idea.
Is football going through a particularly bad patch right now, or is it ever thus?
People will tell you that it’s not been the same for years, and there will always be those who get misty-eyed about a weekend away, a match ticket and their train fare for 14p, but we all know that’s long gone. What’s alarming is the rate at which football is evolving into a cut-throat business. At the highest level (financially), if you go to Old Trafford or Anfield you can see how more money is being squeezed out of consumers, and how little attention is being paid to original fans.
What’s the biggest threat to the game right now?
It’s easy to see Wigan or Manchester City not filling their stadiums and have a laugh, but if they’re not it must be indicative of a wider problem. If people can’t afford it, they can’t afford it. Gate receipts are a drop in the ocean for the biggest football clubs, and their refusal to budge on price is an insult to what was once a working man’s game.
Realistically, though, it’s you versus Sky. And Abramovich. And Abu Dhabi Investments. What can you hope to achieve?
Essentially, if there’s a stage when we can all go back to hating each other every weekend, and we don’t need to come together on something like this, it’s job done for us. We’re not a manifesto for how people should charge their local stadium and overthrow the evil directors, but with open discussion and positive examples then hopefully more people will realise that there is more than one way to run football. We’re still in the minority, there are plenty of people who are perfectly happy with modern football, so that’s the first challenge. Showing people that football can evolve again, and benefit more people not based solely upon the size of their wallets.
If you were head of the FA what would be the first thing you’d do?
Fire almost every other member of staff and employ people who are actually football fans.
Predictions for glory this season?
In terms of actual football? Chelsea look good. In terms of AMF? The Hillsborough Families triumphing over the establishment.
Stand Against Modern Football
Issue 2′s on sale now, complete with a moving set of editorials from Everton, Liverpool, Forest, and Man U fans on Hillsborough’s effects on their lives.
You can hear Dan talking on World Football, Weds 31 Oct, on BBC World Service at 21:50 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00zf172