Modern Day Football: Fan Power

by Michael Healey

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Wherever and whenever I go somewhere and begin to talk to people about football the usual negative comments about football is given: “Footballs not what it was back in my day” or the new classic “Footballers are paid too much money”. In all honesty it’s very true. Modern football is not a sport nowadays, it’s a brand. Modern day footballers are out of reach to supporters. The days of living in close proximity to your favoured footballers and being able to speak to them like normal human beings are relatively dead in the water, but for a few notable down to earth players.

The reasons for the gap between players and supporters vary completely. It can be cultural differences that will stop players gaining a true affinity with a club and its supporters or often a player moves to a club solely to boost their bank balance. I shall give you an example. Carlos Tevez. A player with countless talent who has plied his trade for three English Clubs (West Ham United, Manchester United and Manchester City) since 2007 but has never bothered to learn English and move his family over to the country.

It may surprise you, it may not but Carlos Tevez has never really settled in England. People may say he wanted to stay at Manchester United who refused to pay the going fee for him but he always knew he was playing second fiddle to Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Another player an example should be made off is Emmanuel Adebayor. The man who was signed by Arsenal from Monaco in 2006 making 105 appearances for the Gunners (Gooners to most Arsenal fans) and scoring 46 goals. This was also the same player who celebrated scoring for new side Manchester City against his former employers by running the length of the pitch to rub salt in the wounds of Arsenal fans. This is also the man who has infuriated the supporters of both Arsenal and Manchester City with his attitude and behaviour and fighting with his fellow players.

They are two examples of players who sum up the “modern day” player. There are also a few rays of light peaking through the clouds of today’s footballer. Players such as Tim Cahill have developed an affinity with Evertonians that goes far and beyond the norm of a foreign player. His goal celebrations alone makes him a fan favourite and his demeanour when being involved with the club during public events shows he has blue blood running through his veins.

Jamie Carragher is another player who has stayed rooted firmly with both feet to the floor since his emergence as a Liverpool player. Bootle born and raised, “Carra” has put his body on the line for Liverpool countless times before and has an admiration that exceeds even Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard amongst Liverpudlians.

The main point this report is striving to get across is that without the supporters there is no game. At all. No big wages, no big fees no smart, state of the art stadiums.

This was a point of view I pondered over quite a bit during my recent holiday to Egypt. I brought with me the latest book from The Daily Mirror journalist and fellow Liverpool fan Brian Reade: An Epic Swindle: 44 Months With Two Cowboys. Now if you haven’t read the book I won’t spoil it for you but what I took from it was togetherness. A dynamic group of supporters with a vision and determination to see it through. A group of supporters who realised that they’re beloved club was in turmoil and being raped and pillaged by two men whom and I do not use the words lightly, where evil.

Evil in the sense that they were systematically and relentlessly ruining millions of peoples lives for their own gain. Their own financial gain to make matters worse. Thankfully the actions of supporters and brave club officials help rid the club of its disease but many clubs struggle on now. It’s hard to say Manchester United struggle due to their sustained success but they are owned by Americans who saddled the club with debt. The supporters have protested long and hard to rid the club of the current custodians to no avail but have taken impressive steps to boycott official merchandise with the gold and green scarves the club wore when they were Newton Heath.

Portsmouth Football Clubs supporters have been through the mill and back then back through again with their recent glory to anguish story. But the supporters stayed with the club through administration and hopefully are now on a more sound footing.

This just shows that the value held by supporters for their clubs is huge. Although most big clubs will look to exploit money markets out East it’s the bread and butter supporters that keep the clubs running.

And to all you modern day footballers, make sure you’re aware of this before you move to a club. They, after all, pay your wages.

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  • darren

    Football is all about entertainment, in the same way the movie business is, fact is, it’s only just caught up. Film stars get paid 20m for one film, which lets face it, is no more than 6 months work, but the film/brand will make millions on the back of that star. It’s the same for football. Real Madrid made over 100m on Ronaldo merchandise. You wouldn’t expect to see Tom Cruise in Sainsburys would you?

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