Thursday 19 January 2017

The struggle for the soul of football

This week there were two reasonably significant events in the world of football that caught my eye. The first was that Lincoln City beat Ipswich Town to qualify for the fourth round of the FA Cup. The second was that Manchester United overtook real Madrid  to became the richest club in the world.

The first event was met with joy by the neutral football fans. We love the third round of the FA cup and if we are not the big boys getting spanked, we love to see the minnows triumph. The FA cup is felt by fans to be special. I doubt there is a fan anywhere who thinks "marvellous" when they see the teamsheet and realise their club has put a second string out for the tournament. Sadly in the days when money men rule, this is what we see all too often. I am bemused when mid table teams show such chronic lack of ambition.

Then there is the news about Manchester United. Putting tribal feelings aside, am I alone in finding it strange that their rise to riches coincides with the most unsuccessful period in recent history. The club won an FA cup last season, but finished outside the top four, departed the Champions league early and played dire football. Even today they sit sixth in the Premier league. Of course finances and success will always be two different things and it is commendable that United fans have thus far stuck with the club and dug deep in their pockets to fund the attempts to rebuild. But one has to wonder. If the greedy businessmen see a model where they get financial success without investing in the team, sooner or later the United fans will wake up and vote with their feet. Although United are richer than Real Madrid, they are light years from matching them on the field. This clearly doesn't bother the moneymen at United, although I'm sure the fans are bemused.

There is a battle for the soul of our football clubs. I suspect that in the world of the Champions League and Premiership, that battle is already lost.  The likes of Lincoln City keep the dream alive. Long may they continue.

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