The Ugly Game: Making a stand against modern football

Stand2

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?

At every level, ticket prices.

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

  • Stephen Hurrell

    Great interview. I like the idea of the fanzine and have been following it closely. As long as it remains clever and insightful it’s a great idea. They just need to ensure it doesn’t go the way of the ‘grumpy old man’ fanzine pining for the old days, like so many do.

    I agree something needs to be done at top level football with regard to prices and the cost of following a team. I’m less confident anything will be done until big names start collapsing.

    As an alternative, there are several brilliant non league clubs in the Liverpool area all playing at a good level, with nice stadiums, a good standard of football and affordable prices.

    It doesn’t recreate the talent on show in the Premiership but it is a fun experience – as the well-publicised national Non League Day highlighted. I urge anybody to at least give it a go once this season.

  • david

    No, they should leave the grumpy old man stuff to us.

  • asenseofplace

    This is long needed, and a brilliant idea. And given the drop in numbers of amateur teams around here, would be great if it promoted more interest in people actually playing football too. You never know, I may yet get to turn out for a less corporate Liverpool FC!

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.harris.9 Philip Harris

    Interesting stuff but Manchester City do FILL their stadium for every home league game which sell out well in advance and in most cases half the normal away allocation is allocated to home fans probably because away fans don’t travel in the numbers they do anymore because of cost. Certain cup games have not sold out which is the norm for all but the so called ‘Sky Four’, season ticket holders cannot afford the extra and the clubs with the exception of the ‘Sky Four’ do not have day trippers to pick up the slack, the likes of Everton,Man City, Newcastle, Sunderland etc have very much a working class support hence the difficulties the clubs fans have when it comes to tipping up for cup games which are not included with the season ticket prices.