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Death, despair, heartbreak but still it’s about MONEY!


By CandH’s top blogger Allen Cummings

Most of us are aware it was just before the turn of the last century that industrialist Arnold Hills was instrumental in beginning the football club we now know as West Ham United.

He gave his blessing and financial support for the formation of the Thames Ironworks football team, a football club formed for the benefit, recreation and well being his workers – to provide a welcome departure from the grind of daily lives in those tough, forbidding times.

In those early days games were played mainly for enjoyment. Of course there were winners and losers – that is the whole ethos of competitive sport and there were prizes – although far from the lucrative returns of today.

As time went on the prizes for success, and the cost of failure increased as different divisions were introduced. But despite that football, the game, remained at the heart as a distraction for the masses.

Football fans were key to the game. There was passion and rivalry amongst supporters of different teams – and bragging rights often out-weighed the financial gains on offer.

Much later, in the 1970’s and 1980’s supporter rivalry went too far, and an unwelcome hooliganism element threatened to suffocate the game. Thankfully that has now virtually disappeared completely. But that particular unwelcome guest has now been replaced by an even bigger threat to the original concept of Arnold Hills, and others like him.

The threat of ‘greed’ – and the pursuit of money, money, money. The insatiable urge of so-called big clubs to get even bigger, swatting aside the smaller clubs and looking to dominate the landscape even more. There are, or course, still trophies to be won – but it’s no longer the actual silverware that matters – it’s the pots of gold that come with them.

The days when lifting that magnificent trophy on a sunlit Wembley day in May was all that mattered to the cheering fans has long gone. Captains still lift cups of course – league trophies and European trophies are still out there. But while the footballers and the fans celebrate, the owners and accountants are feverishly clicking away on calculators in the background working out just how much more their bank accounts will grow.

Why do I mention all of this? Because that’s what the current buzz word ‘Project Restart’ is all about. Why there is a split developing between the so-called big boys, the top four or six clubs, and the rest of the Premier League. Those elite clubs are driven solely by their desire to fulfil the obligations of their paymasters. The lucrative contracts they have based on success, on European qualification, on a top-four finish.

Project Restart isn’t about up-lifting the nation, helping to restore some form of normality to the millions of lives left traumatised, and the thousands left heartbroken, by this awful virus. It’s about the ‘haves’ wanting even more. The desperation of maybe not being able to cash in on those lucrative contracts that require certain goals before they pay out.

That’s why football seems hell bent on taking the kind of risks with people’s lives and families that the rest of the country find incomprehensible. Now we hear talk of a threat to those who could scupper the ‘Project Restart’ plan. Do as we say or we will relegate you anyway. It’s the language of bullies.

Many football fans have become disillusioned with football in recent years – many more are becoming disillusioned by the day. Just how low, I wonder, is the game we loved, prepared to sink?

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About Hugh5outhon1895

Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!" Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon

9 comments on “Death, despair, heartbreak but still it’s about MONEY!

  1. A truly excellent article which mirrors my views exactly. The other element that made games so enjoyable was that the majority of players turning out for most teams were local lads. In the early 1960s few teams had a lot of purchased players. Most squads were made up of their own former youth players and were drawn from their locality. Tottenham, Manchester United and Everton always had a few Scots. It was rare for West Ham to go out and buy someone. The purchase of Budgie Byrne, Peter Brabrook and Lawrie Leslie came as a bit of a shock. Even Peter Brabrook, bought from Chelsea, was an East Ham boy coming home.
    Owners and Directors were comparatively ordinary people. West Ham had members of Caerns family of builders and Reg Pratt was a timber merchant. Elsewhere, the Burnley Chairman Bob Lord owned a chain of butchers shops. The fat cats were Everton whose owners also owned a pools company.
    Money has all but destroyed football for me. The rush to get football going again is driven not only by cash, but also because that worthless organisation EUFA is insisting on leagues finishing in June so they can organize next season’s tournaments. Once again everything is being done for the so called big six. Big six only because of their billionaire owners.
    I keep reading that these same teams want a larger share of the TV cake as it is they alone that viewers want to see. They have also expressed interest in joining a European super league unless they get their way. I think it is time for English football to cast these teams adrift and allow the rest of us to revert to a more honest game watched by the ordinary working people that it was always intended for.

    • Many thanks for your kind words John. Glad you agree. I’ve loved my football for over 60 years – but right now, at this moment, by what’s going on, I’m ashamed of it. Stay safe mate.

  2. It is very much about money yes but not just money for rich people perhaps.

    There’s also ten of thousands (probably hundreds of thousands) of jobs for ordinary people across UK sport, it’s a vital industry not only for people being able to afford to eat and live but also for the security, piece of mind and well being it brings with people knowing they are going to be able to pay mortgages and bills moving forwards etc.

    I agree with what your saying and about the fat cats at the top perhaps but there is so much more to think about than just them, otherwise we could just shut down every industry across the country until a vaccine is (hopefully) found.

    “Project Restart isn’t about up-lifting the nation, helping to restore some form of normality to the millions of lives left traumatised, and the thousands left heartbroken, by this awful virus. It’s about the ‘haves’ wanting even more. The desperation of maybe not being able to cash in on those lucrative contracts that require certain goals before they pay out.”

    I think it’s about all of the things in your paragraph above Allen.

  3. Absolutely spot on article Allen Cummings!!

  4. How very true. I am sure if anyone of the people in charge of FA had a relative in the high risk group because of Covid-19 they would have a different outlook in starting football again. In reply to your post I am afraid that everything is down to money today and no one gives any respect or thought to the fans wishes. Football needs supporters and games should not be played at neutral venues.
    Good luck for the future.

  5. This whole fiasco might just mean us the fans have a chance to get back the soul of the game from the money grabbers!

  6. My solution would be to:

    1. Call the season null and void now. No promotion or relegation. European places as they stand, except for 4th place.
    2. Organise an NHS Cup (four groups of five teams playing each other once in behind closed doors neutral venues) top 2 to go to play off rounds A1 v B2 etc. Al proceeds and wages to charity. Winners to get the 4th Champions League spot. The tournament doubles up as ‘footballs coming home’ and pre season friendlies.
    3. New season starts behind closed doors at either home or neutral venues when it can. On the basis that it either continues like that all season; starts late so reverts to play everyone once only; or (god willing) after 19 games the second half of the season reverts to normal. Two teams relegated.

    For teams outside the premier League those prepared / able to play behind closed doors could play in a one off regional leagues (at their venues home/away, as the numbers would be more manageable) where the Southern and Northern winners get promoted to the Premier League (irrespective whether they’re Leeds United or Leyton Orient).

    No league cup but if possible FA cup continues with those teams who wish to participate.

    Hopefully 2021/22 season recommences in August next year and we get back to normal.

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