Whatever your politics, if you believe education should be a right not a privilege or cutting taxes for big corporations should take priority over ensuring everyone earns a decent wage, from a purely footballing perspective, yesterday’s election might, depending upon the outcome of Downing Street’s machinations with the DUP, represent a lost opportunity.
Because, buried deep inside Labour manifesto, hidden behind the promise to scrap tuition fees and pledge to hunt down those who fail to pay their dues, was a vow to ensure five per cent of the Premier League’s income from television rights is handed over to the game’s grassroots. But, even more importantly, notice that Jeremy Corbyn and co planned to introduce legislation giving accredited Supporters’ Trusts the right to appoint and remove two directors from their respective clubs. Or, in other words, force the big, bloated beasts at the top of the sport to do the decent, eminently sensible thing by turning their back on self-interested short-termism and helping to prevent the sport withering away from the bottom up. Not to mention provide those whose loyalty, whether it manifests itself in the shape of purchasing tickets, television subscriptions or merchandise, effectively allows teams to survive, greater say over the decision-making process behind the scenes.
Regular readers of this column will know that I’m a long-standing advocate of ST’s. Many owners appear reluctant to embrace them but recent events at Sheffield United, where a wonderful sense of solidarity between the terraces, pitch and corridors of power helped propel Chris Wilder’s side to the League One title and a remarkable 100 points haul, suggests they have nothing to fear.
United, of course, are in the fortunate position whereby their manager, captain and co-owner are also lifelong fans. Other board members and members of staff are too while the supporters’ liaison programme, recently featured in The Star, is excellent.
Many members of United’s hierarchy have specialist skills which help the operation, despite several hiccups, run relatively smoothly. (Okay, they might not be perfect or infallible. Then again, who is?) But, while not all business can or indeed should be conducted in public, many of those who cheer on the players week in, week out also possess niche talents and good ideas.
A ST, I believe, would ensure the cordiality of the past 12 months continues. Regardless of performances, results or unforeseen events.