Football By Letters

A lackadaisical commentary on the capitulation of the Beautiful game. This site contains actual letters I have written and posted to people within the footballing family. My congratulations, my sarcasm, my annoyances and my views about the beautiful game. Any responses will be published . Add to your favourites and come back soon!

Response from Millwall FC fans regarding my letter to the club on their match day experience

Please follow me on twitter @teekoseyart

I wouldn’t normally write a blog about being trolled online, however this one is different and is particularly interesting. You may remember that earlier this year I visited Millwall FC and made it the subject of one of my letters. To read it in full click here. In brief some of the subjects discussed were openly racist and homophobic behaviour, drug taking and a lack of cleanliness. A few Thursdays back a link to my blog was posted on a Millwall supporters internet forum under the subject heading of ‘just come across this sad cnt’. This sparked thousands of hits of traffic to my blog and discussions on social media. The comments made in this ‘backlash’ I believe completely justify and enforce my initial letter. I must confirm at this time that I have not heard back from anyone at the club.

First I would like to thank the original poster on that forum for driving a fair amount of targeted traffic to by blog, I bet even Google ads couldn’t have been more precise in bringing in people that needed to read the letter the most.

The disappointing thing is that in all of the comments not one person denied the contents of the letter, they just tried to belittle me as a complainer. 75% of the responses I received merely called me a ‘c*nt’ or enlarged upon that by calling me a ‘sad or boring c*nt’ Fair play. I don’t think I have ever knowingly been called a c*nt by so many people in such a small space of time. That’s another thing ticked off the bucket list! Reading into these comments, which isn’t to taxing the implication is that my blog in general is a waste of time and that I must be a right saddo to write all these letters. I’ll hold my hands up yeah, so what, everyone needs a hobby. I must add in my defence that not all these letters are complaints. Some I would describe as recommendations, ideas or enquires as well as congratulations. There is a broad scope of subjects discussed. The blog was clearly not fully read to appreciate this. I’ll also go as far as to say that the letter in question was not read in full by everyone from the unjustified abused received.

A number of people quoted the list of teams that I have visited recently mocking me and implied that it was a bad thing. The reason I put the list in was to illustrate that I have seen what other teams have to offer and that I am not complaining about Millwall on a whim without sound footing and comparable knowledge or experiences. I personally think that it also illustrates that my views on football are not confined to a singular viewpoint of supporting and visiting my own team of preference. I love the tribal nature of football and the ‘banter’ that it brings, but just because I support a specific team does not mean they are the best or their or their fans views, stances or positions are correct. It’s one of the reasons I like to visit other grounds and watch two teams compete as a neutral. I like to see the local area, the way the fans behave (as home or away) inside and outside the stadium, what the shop has to offer and what’s in the program, how the club interacts with the fans and of course what the atmosphere is like during the game. Some people implied I went there with the wrong intentions and that I was always going to walk away with a pre conceived point of view. You have to appreciate that the letter was written after the visit so there is creative license in how the letter was put together and i tried to tell the story of the day with a fair degree of facts and background, however I went there fully expecting the reputation to be non-existent purely because of the world we now live in where there are social expectations.

Again I will say not one person denied the facts I presented. How worrying is it that they feel that the behaviour I highlighted is acceptable. In fact one person quoted my comments where I have referred to racial abuse and merely said ‘what’s wrong with that?’ One individual calling himself ‘cockpissmillwall’ who sent me numerous tweets appeared to be suggesting that my letter was another instance of middle classes ruining the fun of the working class. Firstly if you’ve read any of my letter, there’s a clear indication of my class if that is even relevant. He repeatedly complained about my letter and indicated it was about ‘Millwall fans standing around drinking’. The fella along with many others clearly did not read the letter and just jumped on the abuse bandwagon. The issue is much more significant that a few pints.

I lot of people seem to have a romantic view of how football was back in the day. Everyone supported their local team, they walked to the stadium having a few pints on the way, paid for the ticket on the day and it cost loose change, everyone sang for the shirt and did it standing and then finished the afternoon in the pub after having an altercation with the away team on the streets. The same guys probably have a view that anything goes at football. Language, fighting and general bad behaviour are acceptable because it’s the lads day out for the football. Unfortunately life has changed. The world has changed. These guys that are passionately against modern football but still pay the excessive ticket prices, buy the replica kits every year, love Paddy Power and I bet all of them subscribe to sky sports so they can watch football whenever it’s on wherever it’s on and tweet 20 times to let anyone know if anyone cares . If we forget about the money in the game and how that has changed football (i.e. the players and the coverage and the costs for fans) what has really changed for the worse? It is not the product as football is infinitely better now than it was (my opinion based on very little) The answer it would appear is the atmosphere at most stadiums. Why is this? Most people can’t afford to go every week. This leads to ‘tourists’ and occasional fans. This has diluted the atmosphere in most popular clubs. How have Millwall retained their atmosphere? They haven’t followed with the times. If you have read my blog you will know I wrote to Reading FC to say I thought their atmosphere was non-existent. So I am pro improving the match day experience. It just needs to be well thought out so everyone can enjoy it, not just half cut lads.

photo 1 (6)

photo 2 (7)

I made a comment in my letter saying that Millwall should set a target to be family club of the year. I received copious tweets that the club were family club of the year. Unfortunately for the people that tweeted me, they are incorrect. The Football League family club of the year was Middlesbrough. The full list of nominees were Birmingham City, Bristol City, Oxford United, Plymouth Argyle and Wolverhampton Wanderers. So no sign of Millwall in sight. I must admit I was somewhat bewildered at the suggestion by Millwall Fans that their club had won family club of the year, so I did some research. In fact the club had been awarded the Family Excellence Award. Now on the face of it that would appear to be in a way somewhat prestigious and have rigorous standards that allow a club to obtain such an Award. I contacted the football league and enquired as to how the football league goes about carrying out their assessment. Their response was as follows;

Thank you for your email and interest in the Football League Family Excellence Awards.

The Family Excellence Awards have run since 2005/6 and highlight clubs’ work in providing an outstanding experience to families attending their games (http://www.football-league.co.uk/page/FamilyExcellenceAward/0,,10794,00.html).

All 72 Football League clubs receive two mystery family visits throughout the season. The families are independently chosen and do not have any existing affiliation to a particular club. The families mark their experiences and provide both quantitative and qualitative feedback on a range of touchpoint areas including, ‘first impressions and buying tickets’, ‘the journey to the match’, ‘the Stadium vicinity’, ‘the Club shop’, ‘Refreshments’ and ‘Inside the Stadium’. Crucially they are asked to state whether they would recommend the experience to other families. Clubs achieving the required level of recommendation, and displaying excellence in their family engagement, successfully achieve the Family Excellence Award.

Some clubs fall into a judging category if they do not automatically ‘pass’, with the judging panel involved in giving the award made up of representatives from clubs across the Football League and representatives from Supporters Direct.

All 72 clubs across The Football League are assessed in the same way based entirely on the family experience at the matches visited and no other external factors.

Thank you for contacting The Football League.

Regards,

In addition to this I noted that out of the 72 football league clubs that 47 achieved the standard. The list of areas that are considered appear to be limited. The journey to the match, the vicinity, the club shop and refreshments to my mind, despite the fact I commented on them in my letter and what I said above, are largely irrelevant when assessing a family club. Crucially and what I believe limits the credibility of the award is that it is based on 2 families single independent experiences. Really any kind of award should be carried out by a governing body with strict guidelines which result in yes or no answers in order to form an opinion on whether the club is suitable for families. I can only assume that in the example of Millwall that the 2 families that visited the club that they both visited the family enclosure and that the culture in this area is significantly different to the area I visited. Taking this point one set further I received an exceptionally long comment from someone called ‘Simon Miles’ who made a decent effort to make it clear that he was in no shape of form a Millwall fan, despite the essay that followed that clearly demonstrated that he was. He told me that if I went to Burnley, Notts County and Rochdale I would see the same behaviour. He went on to tell me that it is normal for guys to smoke in toilets in football grounds and to snort cocaine. Simon does that make it right? He went on to say that if I’m not going to write to all clubs then I shouldn’t bother targeting Millwall. Ridiculous. The letter was about my real life experience. 100% factually correct.

I have been accused of wanting to sanitise football and that I am ‘everything that’s wrong with post Euro 96 football’. It literally couldn’t be any further from the truth. If you have children you may appreciate my point more. I want my son to grow up and know right from wrong, to know how to treat others and have respect without having disclaimers like ‘we are at the football’ so we can get away with unacceptable behaviour including racial abuse. That is just clearly bang out of order. I love football and I want it to be a safe environment where everyone can enjoy it today. All ages, races, religions or sexual persuasions! Why does it matter? Surely all that matters is that you support your team, that’s who you are and have fun win, lose or draw.

The reality is that I don’t take myself too seriously and nor does the blog. I believe that I have tackled real issues and well as more light hearted or frankly irrelevant topics. That’s why I found some of the comments quite amusing. I think my personal favourite was from shed bragger ‘arthur2shedsjackson’ who said ‘So he goes all around Europe watching teams he doesn’t support and then writes letters to people who don’t give a shit‘. I have to say he has a point. I love that line and I am going to adopt it for the blog.

photo (3)

Do I hope Millwall fans read this post. To be honestly I am not that bothered. I felt I had to put some words down on paper in part just to work out a) what happened b) if I was out of line and c) what the real problem is. I hope the club read my letter and considered the comments and try to improve their club for the better. I never intended any offence, but I felt I needed to display the facts and assess them based on my experiences and expectations as a father who enjoys going to the football. I also hope that the Football League implements a better system so that they award clubs that genuinely deserve recognition. Lastly I hope the fans of Millwall try and change and think about their own children.

Advertisements

Response from the FA regarding my letter about the latest Nike England Shirt

Please follow me on twitter @teekoseyart

I received a response from the FA. However just like my letters to Stuart Pearce click here regarding the Olympics and David Bernstien click here regarding the British home championship the response came from everyone’s favourite Customer Relations person at the FA Tracey Bates. Did Fa head honcho Greg Dyke ever see the letter, highly unlikely.

So, I am writing this blog post on the 12th day of the World Cup and we have already be eliminated. In fact we were eliminated 3 days ago. Two defeats to Italy and Uruguay. Both 2-1 score lines. A promising performance in the first games was followed by an absolutely appalling one in the second. Many people will highlight individual errors, the retaining of older players too long or that our players just are not as good as think they are. My opinion is that our players are good. In fact I believe our squad was fairly reasonable. The difference between us and a Chile, a Holland, a Uruguay, a Belgium or a France is down to how we come together as a team. The EPL is now an exhibition for the world best players, therefore there is no identity to English football in the way there was in the past (442 with wingers, 2 striker and ball winners in the middle) or how there is in South America or on the continent. The top English players benefit from the top foreign imports sadly. This is most evidenced in the culture of the English player, most specifically in their ability to move and create space. Were just incapable. For more reading on this see my submission to the FA’s inquiry click here. Rant over.

Back to the kit, the money making machine of the FA, is just another highly forgettable shirt. To read my letter to the FA click here and see the response below. My key issues were primarily the frequency of this additional kit and the cost. Ironically a few weeks back i noticed that everyone’s favourite cheap as chips fashion superstore Primark were selling a plain white standard Tshirt with an official badge sewn on for £8. Go figure.

As you can see from the response, its pretty flimsy. To make the argument that they ‘made it known at the start’ about the new kit cycles so that fans could make the decision to buy it or not is wholly pathetic and somewhat embarrassing. Are they really expecting to release a kit and people not to buy it. Disgusting. To then go on and say they don’t want to sell cheaper shirts because fans want to have the exact replica of what the players use and it’s benefit strengthens my point in the letter regarding the more expensive shirt. All in all another unsatisfactory response and as I said this shirt has left and unsavoury taste in the mouth of everyone concerned because its represents failure and embarrassment. Lets see if this kit is still used in April 2016. I think not!!

photo (2)
Primark Special for £8 before the tournament, now probably a pound.

The Received response from the FA

photo 1 (5)

photo 2 (5)

My Letter to FIFA president Sepp Blatter regarding Diego Costa

This is a subject that does annoy me. It’s a sensitive subject as I’m sure there are people out there that will no doubt brandish the racism card. Couldn’t be further than the point. One of the things that makes football so special is the passion that forms part of the game and that it bring every kind of person together for enjoyment. Whether that’s the fans or the players. It may well be being watered down due to money in the game. However, it must be different from an international perspective, if there is no passion or honour in representing ones country what is the point? I remember getting a bit annoyed when Owen Hargreaves was selected for England some years back. This was a kid born in Canada to Welsh and English parents, grew up in Canada and then moved to Germany where he spent 50% of his career. He represented Wales at U19 level before deciding England was the nation for him presumably because England had high chances of tournament qualification. In hindsight, I do not have an issue with this kind of situation. I think it is fair that Hargreaves could play for either Wales, England or Canada and that it was his choice to make. One of the first high profile naturalised players since new ruling came into force was Brazilian Marcos Senna who featured in Spain’s Euro 2008 triumph. For me, this was wrong. He came to Spain when he was approximately 25/6 and naturalised at 30ish to play for Spain. There is no possible argument for how it would be appropriate for him to play for Spain. Even if he hated his birth country or where he grew up, he is still Brazilian. Effectively that’s my point. But read the letter, I have some quite interesting stats and examples that highlight the issue.

Please follow me on twitter and instagram @teekoseyart For my general thoughts and to keep up to date with this blog and other stuff i get up to.

diego-costa

Spanish international Diego Costa featuring for Brazil last year

My Letter

Mr Sepp Blatter
President
Fédération Internationale de Football Association
FIFA-Strasse 20,
P.O. Box 8044 Zurich, Switzerland

12 June 2014

Mr Blatter,

I feel compelled to write to you, FIFA, the world’s governing body for football following Diego Costa’s inclusion in Spain’s national squad for the 2014 world Cup being held in Brazil. We live in a changing world where people emigrate for a host of good and bad reasons, but the naturalising of players has gone a step too far in my opinion.

Diego Costa was born in Brazil and begun his professional career in football aged 17 in Portugal before arriving in Spain aged 18. In the past 7 years he has played for a variety of Spanish teams (Atletico Madrid, Celta Vigo, Albacete, Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano . This clearly does not make him Spanish. Despite that clear fact, due to FIFA ruling allowing players citizenship following five years residency in said country, Diego Costa in this instance is now technically Spanish.

At the upcoming World Cup out of the 736 players who have been selected to compete there will be 80 players representing a country that is different to their country of birth. That is approximately 11%. Quite a surprising statistic that am sure most people will not expect. In the world we live where emigration in the past 100 years in order to better ones life and the life of your family is so high there is bound to hundreds of thousands of children born in countries different to their parents. Eastern Europe and Africa are perfect examples of this. Algeria will go the World Cup with 16 of their 23 man squad being born in France, but all with parents born in Algeria. Interestingly in total there will be 46 French born players competing in this year’s finals.

Some people will say that you should only represent the country that you are born in as technically that is your nationality. I disagree with this as there are many reasons why it may not be appropriate. It may be the case that ones parents may have been in the country for a short period of time working at the time of the childs birth. My research into the subject has identified a number of players born in a country where their parents were stationed as part of their Army service. Again this is a fair reason why their nationality is questionable. By the same token if you emigrate at such a young age that by the time you are a young adult you have no recollection of your birth nation you are likely to classify yourself as a national of your adopted country. France international Rio Mavuba was actually born at sea escaping a war zone. There are good and fair reasons to opt to play for the nationality of your parents or the country you have spent your entire life growing up in. I would question however playing for the country of one of your grandparents. In my opinion the connection is somewhat too distant, but i do accept it, particularly on the grounds of family pride etc. There are a number of British players who have gained international recognition within the Caribbean through this method, which I would suggest are particularly questionable.

My concern is that the rules have been and will be exploited more and more as years go by. I believe that international football should be the best that a country has against the best of another. It seems that you hear more and more often of international managers and football associations ‘persuading’ players to opt for a specific country due to dual passport or technicalities. Do we really want to get to a stage where international football is just teams full of players from around the world that a country’s football association has effectively persuaded them to play for? I would rather see a Premier League XI vs a Serie A XI or La Liga XI in a separate competition etc than water down the heritage of international football. There’s an idea for someone in the off summer season where there is no World Cup or European Championship! Adan Januzaj is a great example of this modern phenomenon. Adan was born in Belgium to Kosovan/Albanian Parents with Turkish Grandparents. So from the off you would think it was a choice between three nations. No. He moved to England in 2011 and there was talk of him waiting until 2016 in order to bring England into his choice. Clearly ludicrous.

As time goes by I see I real disconnection between the fans and international football that only gains interest during a major tournaments. This disappoints me. It was international football that really got me interested in football. As a teenager i was already a football fan, but Paul Gascoigne’s exploits at Euro 96 got me addicted to football and it has been my passion every since.

USA international Mikkel Diskerud has 20 caps at the time of writing, but prior to playing a competitive international for USA he was also eligible for Norway as the country of birth. He qualifies for USA due to the birthplace of his mother. Diskerud grew up in Norway and plays his professional football in Norway. Diskerud made it public that he would accept a ‘first come first serve’ offer from either nation and had no preference as long as he gained international recognition. I would question a player like this. Surely despite qualifying for both countries you must feel for one more than the other. I believe that international football was once a passionate and competitive level of football, but now it seem as though it is merely about recognition in order to gain financially.

Over the years we have seen a number of Brazilians naturalised all over the world. Brazil seems to be the main country where players are naturalised from with no family connection. Togo once famously fielded six Brazilians in an African nations match. Ironically despite a high number of Brazilian players being eligible to other nations there are only five Brazilians competing at this year’s World Cup not representing their homeland. These are Costa for Spain, Pepe for Portugal, Motta for Italy along with Eduardo and Sammir for Croatia. The reason for the low turn is that many of the naturalised Brazilians play for low ranked nations, with a few more cut from the final 23 men squads announced last week. As FIFA President you once made a comment with regards to the this situation and i quote “If we don’t take care about the invaders from Brazil, then we could have problems at the 2014 and 2018 World Cup finals. Out of 32 teams at the finals, we will still have other nationalities but there could be teams full of Brazilian players. If we don’t stop the fast naturalisation of players in some countries, this will be a real danger. There are 60 million footballers in Brazil but only 11 places in their national team.”, whilst you made this statement little appears to have been done since to combat the issue.

A series of rules changes have been brought in to force regarding how a player can represent a nation. Effectively one can represent through birth, birth of a parent or birth of a grandparent. These seems fair and logical rules for players to fall within in order to represent a nation. The exceptional instance I spoke earlier i.e. Algeria falls into this category. It is a grey area but I believe the majority of people in these categories would classify themselves as being a national of their chosen country. There is an additional category brought into force in 2004, which allows representation to occur following 2 years of continuous residency in said country as long as no previous competitive representation has been made elsewhere. This was extended in 2008 to five years of continuous residency. This is where the grey area become very blurry. In theory and this is to the extreme an uncapped 33 year old player could move to a new country play five years and then represent them at international level at the age of 38 years of age. There is no way this would seem fair or appropriate. Brazil would appear to be the most susceptible of nations to this problem as highlighted by your comment. Their national side is full of top level talent and current records indicate there are over 500 professional Brazilian players playing outside of Brazil over the world in professional league. Of these 500 only 30-50 will ever get the call from the national side. We also have the other side of the coin where emerging rich nations can effectively buy international improvement, by naturalising talent at young ages from poorer nations. Whilst giving players from poorer upbringings the opportunity to improve their lives is a fantastic thing and should be applauded, if the end game from the respective FA is the naturalise the players, surely this is wrong?

I believe that further change needs to be made for the good of the game. The naturalising of players rule needs amending. Its seem illogical for an adult to be able to be naturalised. They have lived their life with an identity that includes a nationality and a heritage, whether that is good or bad it is factual. Children are different. Whilst we can all remember certain aspects of our childhood, it takes years to shape our personalities and that is why most cultures do not classify a person as an adult until they are 18 years of age. That would seem to be a fair age, however this is a world where players move at young ages and parents are persuaded by clubs to move to countries for large signing on fees. For this reason I would propose that the age limit should be 13 years of age with a minimum of 5 years continuous residency and attachment to a professional club in order to change nationality. This would restrict the residency rule due to emigration between birth and 13 years of age. I would also rule that a player must be at least 18 in order to submit a change in nationality. This means that at 18 years of age a player who is now an adult can and should be able to make a reasoned decision.

Football is changing and it is changing fast. Everything is geared toward making money, whether it be players, their families, clubs, football associations, the football authorities, sponsors and even governments. Where did it start to go wrong. Football is surely all about eleven vs eleven, having fun, win, lose or draw played fairly, competitively and with sportsmanship and respect for the opponent. Let’s not drag international football down. Today I will post this letter to you. It is the day of the first game of the World Cup. Let’s hope that the major talking point once the tournament is complete is not Diego Costa.

I hope this letter reaches you and you are able to read it in full, consider my comments and ideas and provide me with a response. If you would like to discuss this further please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards

My Letter to the FA regarding the new Nike England shirt release

Just a bit of a rant here but i think the sentiment is more than fair. A response for this has been received which i will post at a later date.

Greg Dyke
The Football Association
Wembley Stadium
PO Box 1966
London
SW1P 9EQ

1 May 2014

Mr Dyke,
I am writing with regards to the new England shirt made available for sale early this month. Ten months ago I bought my son the previous shirt. This would appear to be the first shirt manufactured by Nike. I paid the full price with printing on the reverse side for a player name and number. As you can appreciate the kit was not cheap particularly with the added cost of the printing, but let’s face it when kids are involved you’re always going to have to fork out for the printing. It’s part of the product. Whilst a pricey, but to be fair premium product, you take the view that this shirt will be used for a minimum of two years (the length of the qualification and tournament process) so there will be to a certain extent value for money. However, something changed this year, you decided that it was appropriate to release a 2nd home shirt specifically for the tournament. My honest assessment is that it is an outrageous decision.

This means that the England National first team have worn this kit in only eight fixtures. The vast majority of which were meaningless friendlies. So the kids got to see their heroes wear this shirt only 8 times. It’s almost forgettable and in ten years time no one will remember this kit unless you say the one that looked like it should have been worn by the Americans. Even if you go back to our recent past you can remember the kits worn at Euro 96, Owen’s goal vs Argentina of the Beckham free kick vs Greece kit. All these kits were worn or were current for twice as long as the previous kit and long enough for something memorable to occur. It’s a real shame that you feel the need to release kits on a yearly rather than tournament cycle. The international season is two years long. It’s bad enough club sides have taken to releasing three player and two goalkeeper kits each season with some clubs releasing addition ‘cup’ shirts. I presume this is a taster for things to come from the FA.

So, my son’s 10 month old kit is now redundant. It’s out of date and no longer wanted. There’s a new kit out and now I will have to shell out again. The difference here being that this kit may only be really worn for 6 games with any actual enthusiasm if that. As soon as the World Cup is over the kit largely becomes as redundant as my son’s current out of date one unless we win the thing (despite the Euro qualification as i’m sure there will be a new one out after 2 or 3 games). In my opinion this shirt should have coincided with the commencement of the next qualification process. The reason why it doesn’t is because it is a huge money spinner to milk more money out of fans and parents of fans. We don’t already pay enough for tickets, TV subscriptions, club merchandise and apparel, games, stickers and cards and all kinds of throwaway material stuff, do we? The sad facts are that we will continue to pay out because we love the game. That is in despite of England as a team being probably the most disappointing part of being a supporter. I know of a number of football fans who have no interest in watching England, how sad is that to hear?

I note that two versions have been made available for purchase. Historically the replica kits on sale have always been different to the ones used by the players, it’s just on this occasion you have approved the decision to sell the premium kit additionally. On the face of this it does not really bother me as if i was to buy one for myself or my son if would opt for the ‘cheaper’ £60 shirt. Reason being it’s only going to be worn on the sofa or at the park. I am not a well conditioned athlete and to the man on the street, could anyone tell the difference? The one thing I will say is that there will be kids out there who will want the ‘real’ shirt. Effectively once you have Rooney on the back its a £100 investment. Is that a fair burden?

My personal point of view on the pricing is that you’ve missed a trick. The standard shirt is priced at £60 (excluding mandatory reverse name and number printing) and I’m sure you will sell lots on units. Everyone that probably ‘usually’ gets one will stretch their funds to invest. I believe that a major marketing strategy would have been to put the shirts on sale for £20-25. At that price not just the usual customer will make the purchase, but everyone will. Every football fan in the country, their kids, mum, the dog, the grandparents, local businesses and even non English people living in England would have taken a punt and got wrapped up in the excitement. What does that do? It gets everyone involved, gives people a real connection and everyone excited about the team especially as the games are on terrestrial (presumably that will change in time). You will say that reducing the price is uneconomical. But i would argue against this. As it has been illustrated in the media and social media in recent weeks, the England shirt is effectively a white tshirt with the Three Lions badge on it. That may sound crude but it is the reality. The kit manufacturer produces similar tshirts without the England badge for £20-30. The badge does not cost £30. So theoretically it is possible. You could have subsidised this difference for the benefit of everyone and in the long run I am positive it would have been to your benefit. It would have been a real good news story for the people that regularly support and are disappointed in the national side. You can use this strategy for the next tournament with my blessing.

All in all the kit release is a real poor decision by the FA and a bit of a kick in the balls for the fans. I watch England on a regular basis at Wembley (more money from my pocket to yours), because my son loves the stadium and seeing the best players in theory that we have to offer, but personally I cant remember the last time i enjoyed an England game. It was probably one or two games under Sven. For sure the kit does not have anything to do with the team per se but we as fans deserved something back. I really hope that the team does well as the kit will leave an inappropriate taste in the mouth and the general opinion of the FA and the England team will continue to disintegrate.
Regards

England Fan

My Letter to Millwall FC regarding the fans and the match day experience

EDIT: I have since written a blog about the response by the Millwall community to this letter find it by clicking here 10/07/2014

A few months back I visited The Den, the home of Millwall FC, for the fist time. The funny thing is that everyone I’ve told about our visit has looked back at me with surprise. Surprise, that A) we went and B) that I’m infact surprised by my experience.

Millwall have an awful reputation of hooliganism and racism historically. At most clubs in the UK this kind of behaviour in this day and age has thankfully been widely eradicated to a certain extent (a lot more can be done). In the past few years i have watched football at the following places Aston Villa, Bristol (City) Fulham, Leicester, Leyton Orient, Reading, Southampton, Southend, Tottenham, West Ham, The new Wembley as well as Barcelona, Milan, PSG, Real Madrid and Valencia. In all this time i have not really come across a club like Millwall. Maybe I was naive, but Millwall was an eye opener.  If you go to football regularly or even if you don’t you will be surprised. If you take your kids to a family friendly run club you will definitely be surprised (since this Millwall trip i took my lad to Southampton at easter, wow what a contrast!). But then maybe due to the reputation Millwall have  you won’t be.

I have been writing letters (sent by post) to players, managers, chairmen, chief executives, FA’s and TV networks which i display in this blog for some 24 months and I think this letter is one of the best possibly since the first letter that i wrote regarding Glasgow Ranger ‘s demise that inspired this blog. This letter tackles a real problem and a real issue.  At the time of publishing this blog i have not had a response from Millwall FC. Shame on you.

My simple statement to Millwall and their fans –> It’s not 1973.

Please follow me on twitter @teekoseyart

photo 1

Outside the stadium  

photo 2

Our view from the stands (Pretty good)

 

My Letter

Mr Andy Ambler
Chief Executive
Millwall Football Club
The Den
Zampa Road
London
SE16 3LN

19 March 2014

Mr Ambler,

I recently visited Millwall Football Club for the home fixture vs Brighton & Hove Albion. Whilst not supporting the club my son, brother and I were looking to catch some football in London on the day in question and ending up opting for your club. As a football fan of 25 years I was well aware of the reputation that Millwall has, which would appear to be one of the worst in the country. Please entertain me whilst I tell you about my experience of my first visit to the club and we can summarise at the end whether the reputation is just and fair.

We arrived early before the game started, so we had plentiful time to collect our tickets and grab a bite to eat before walking around the Millwall FC grounds. We ate in the ‘Millwall Café’ and had some chips, which were trying to persuade me despite their anaemic appearance that they were in fact cooked, however their argument was somewhat untenable. Walking around the ground there was not much going on apart from a large bar area for the adults. This area was packed with beer drinkers. I noticed a halfhearted petition to prevent local land being sold to developers. This on the face of it sounds like a good idea and I hope you are successful.

I bought a programme and then we entered the stadium. We bought a couple of soft drinks and made our way to our seats. My brother opted for hot chocolate, which was essentially boiling hot water with clumps of powder floating on the surface. Suffice to say it was not consumed. Our seats were relatively good and the view was pleasant for football. I had selected seats half way up relatively close the half way mark. The only issue I found was that the legroom even for a football ground was rather small particularly if you consider the age of the ground. When the guy in front of me sat back his head was a matter of inches from my genitals, which was somewhat uncomfortable for both parties I’m sure.

You may say the above is fairly petty and typical of many grounds and to a certain extent it is. I have included this just to help build a picture of the day. Before the game began I took the chance to read the programme to familiarise myself with the team and what going on with the club. One item stood out immediately. There was an article about football v homophobia. Your secretary Mikey Collins makes the bold claim within the article that he is ‘proud that once again Millwall are taking the lead’ and continued that ‘we need to get across to the fans that homophobic language in a football stadium has no more place than racist language’.

Now, it may very well have been unfortunate that we opted to visit when the team were competing against Brighton, an area of the country that widely associated with having a large demographic of homosexuality, but I can tell you for a fact that it did not seem like Millwall were taking the lead. As the game began there were choruses of fans singing ‘does your boyfriend know you’re here..’ which, I should not really admit, but it did bring a smile to my face in what appeared to be playful banter. This was until there were repeated chants of ‘you take it up the a**e’. Interesting.

The game continued and to be fair was quite enjoyable, only really spoiled by both teams being decidedly toothless upfront. I would like to intersect at this point and say that the atmosphere was generally quite good on the face of it. There was constant noise, chanting and an interesting incessant screaming noise that I can imagine the players quite enjoy. This is a positive as there are many stadiums out there that are particularly quiet.

The atmosphere changed when Millwall gave away a penalty, which was dispatched. It was clearly a debatable penalty even from the stands and you would expect a certain degree of noise vocalised by the home side fans in exchange. What was experienced was really unacceptable. I heard people shout to the player who ‘won’ the penalty, Jesse Lingard, a number of things and these are as follows. ‘I hope your car explodes on the way home’ ‘F*****g immigrant’ ‘I hope you die’ ‘Inbred c**t’. I could go on and it was not isolated instances.

The interesting thing is that the fans appear to have selected racism. The fans were happy to chant in support of Danny Shittu the clubs black Nigerian centre half. Possibly it was because he seemed to be one of the better players in the side and despite being a defender looked to be one of the few that could influence the side. However, it may just have been more that he looked as if he could handle him self physically when/if necessary that endeared him to the fans.

At half time my son needed a lavatory break so we walked down and entered the facilities. We were met by a room full of gents smoking. One of the cubicles opened and two guys walked out. If I had to guess what they were up to I would bet that they were not participating in the act their fellow fans had been chanting to the Brighton fans earlier. After a matter of seconds and without completing the object of entering the toilet my son walked out complaining of feeling sick. I wasn’t surprised and we looked for alternative facilities. Outside the facilities in the gangways there were pools of actual sick, which added to the unpleasant atmosphere. At that moment I looked across at a steward and we shared a moment. A moment where he gave me a look that said a thousand words, words such as ‘Sorry i know’ and ‘please do not talk to me’ ‘there is nothing I can do’ and ‘even if I wanted to I’m too intimidated to even try’. I felt sorry for the lad, everyone has to earn a crust. The back of the programme has a statement advising anyone who hears foul, abusive or racist language to inform a steward, police officer or to text the information to a number provided. I find it hard to believe that anyone does and if they did that the stewards would be willing to do anything about it. I don’t blame them, I wouldn’t want to try. Especially if I’m only get paid about £20.

We returned to our seats and enjoyed the second half. However the appalling language continued. There were a couple of females a few rows behind. If I told my grandparents what they were saying they would not believe me that there are women who speak how they did, lets leave it at that! Sitting next to me were a group of four. It appeared to comprise of a guy in his late 30’s with his son and father along with another guy of a similar age. Eavesdropping as you do he seemed to have sound views of the game and how it was progressing until he stood up and turned the air blue. The reason I have brought these guys up is as follows. When the guys disappeared mid way through the half, presumably to sink a few beers, there were chants by the fans of ‘fat c*nt’ to the referee. The young lad who looked 5 or 6 joined in. The grandfather stopped him and raised his arm and told him in no uncertain measures that just because there singing it, doesn’t mean you can, if you do you’ll have one of these!’ Well, there’s a lesson there, somewhere. As I said my son was present, he is 11 and I must be lucky that he is sensible and he is able to dismiss the comments without bringing them into his own vocabulary. But when that kid joined in my son was shocked.

To summarise the fans I will leave you with this. The most common chant or phrase shouted at players was either ‘Hit him’ or ‘hurt him’. So that was my experience. It was definitely an eye opener. I’m not a season ticket holder of any club but I do watch football fairly regularly and I have visited many clubs in the UK as well as a number in France, Italy and Spain. It seems to me that without success or any serious investment the club has relied and relies on looking after and appeases it’s current fans and struggles to bring in new fans that are not simply the new generation of the ones before them. Therefore there has not been that natural shift in what is acceptable that almost every club has gone through. The five-year-old kid is a perfect example. Subjected to appalling language of a racial and homophobic nature. Seeing his family shout this in public he will think it is acceptable. His father was probably the same 20 years ago and so was his. Trust me I am no prude. I use profanity on a regular basis, who doesn’t? But there is a line of what is and what isn’t acceptable. This club has a real problem.

Honestly I do not know what the answer is. You are in a difficult situation whereby destroying this appalling culture may lead to a significant loss in attendances and therefore revenue, which I appreciate is unacceptable for a club of this size. However, if match day experiences are like this every week surely something needs to change, as it is definitely unacceptable. You can’t rely on the fact that the current fan’s children will follow the club. I genuinely hope they see sense. Following your local side is to some extent a thing of the past. The top players will distract today’s children so unless you do something to entice new fans you could be in trouble. I actually feel sorry for Ian Holloway, I’ve always thought he was an interesting character in football. A man with strong principles, family values and real passion for what he believes in. Surely it must be hard for him to be the figurehead of this club and I hate to say it but he is now tarnished by association.

Do the right thing and make a genuine target to be the family club of the year. Plan for a bright future. Had you already made strides to do as such, it’s possible you wouldn’t have this issue with the council selling the land close by and you would be able to provide community facilities yourself as an important and valued part of the community. I felt compelled to write to you to explain this experience instead of just sweeping it under the carpet. The reputation is fair and just. Do the right thing. Please.

Regards.

 

photo 2 (1)

Back page of the programme

photo 3

My second letter to EA Sports regarding FIFA 14

They probably think I’m a pain in the arse, but i have written to EA about FIFA again. In all honesty i bloody love the game. Maybe if i didn’t these few minor instances would not bother me. But, they do. I play the game regularly on-line and with my son. We both love it. To read my first letter click here and to read their kind response click here. I am sure everyone will say that if they ironed out these annoyances, id find more. Possibly right, but then you do not hear me complaining about lag or cheaters, i am just looking for some refinements to the game.

For more of me or my artwork please follow me on twitter.

 

The Second letter

David Rutter

FIFA 14 Executive Producer
4330 Sanderson Way
Burnaby
British Columbia
V5G 4X1
Canada

29 January 2014
Dear Mr Rutter,

I wrote a letter to you on 21 May 2013 regarding FIFA 13. As you may recall I have been an avid FIFA player for some 15+ years. Currently my weapon of choice is an Xbox 360, if only we could all afford and Xbox One. The reason for my letter was simple. There were a small number of issues with the game that concerned or annoyed me. I appreciate that when I sent the letter that FIFA14 was no doubt practically complete and anything that you could have taken from my letter may have missed the boat. Regardless I have decided to write to you again, after 4 month of playing FIFA 14, with an update of my issues.

Kit Clashes

I predominately play online within the seasons mode. Kit clashes in this mode are a regular occurrence between one team and the ref. It seems to be more frequent when one of the teams has a red jersey. The game determines that the ref bizarrely should also have a red one. I cannot remember a version of the game on the 360 where this has not been problem. Because of that it is obviously an inherent problem. I also find that there is a similar issue with the ball being the same colour as one of the kits, usually my opponent (I’ll say no more). Most commonly blue or red. Both of these clashes put me at a significant disadvantage, which I believe is unnecessary. Maybe its because my eyes are slightly sensitive but even then, I’m sure it annoys people with superb eyesight. A good comparable is the recent Manchester City vs West Ham United match. On close inspection the kits were largely different but when sitting on the sofa and watching the television set the closeness of the colours was not significant enough. I have attached a few poor quality pictures I have taken in the just in the last week from my phone of kit clashes. I am no computer genius, but surely this is an easy piece of code that can be rectified in an update? Its seem crazy that such a great a complex game can be created and silly little things like this are missed.

Goal Kicks

Again I mentioned this last year. When a goalkeeper kicks the ball out the opposing centre half can head the ball back into the keeper’s direction and a striker can be through on goal evading the offside trap with no defenders within 10 yards. Yes, this can happen in real life, but 8 times out of ten? Maybe this is an issue with how players receive, challenge for and take the ball down in the air. Either way, because throwing the ball out to your own defender is not always simple in this game it creates a particularly frustrating element of game play. Similar I have noticed opponents using some kind of glitch in order the take cent run 10-15 yards into their half then lob the ball all the way into my penalty area which is willing received by an unmarked striker. Whilst this does not annoy me like the keeper issue, I feel they are one and the same.

Volleys

This is predominantly on the edge of the box when a ball is cleared from the penalty area following a corner etc.. I have never hit the target. Please note, I am not expecting to do a Paul Scholes each game. The ball seems to move more closely to the goal in this version than the last but some players should be able to hit the target occasionally.

Weather

This is new for FIFA 14. The games online are more often than not taking place in heavy rain. I hate it. I have a feeling that you will say something like it mirrors real life weather. But surely these games are escapism. One afternoon I had to suffer 8 games of rain in a row. Weather should be a setting choice before you search for an opponent.

It would just be nice if these issues could be resolved somehow. The weather and the kits must surely be more of a flick of a switch to you guys, so a change in an update would be brilliant. I accept the other two issues are significantly more problematic as it is an issue with the mechanics of the game.

Again I will congratulate you on another fantastic game. A game that keeps me occupied far more than it should or I have time for. My son and I spend many a weekend afternoon with FIFA whilst listening as the scores come in. Thanks for taking the time to read this letter.

Yours

photo 1 (29)

photo 2 (25)

photo 3 (18)

photo 4 (15)

photo 5 (11)

Submission of evidence to The FA Chairman’s England Commission

Two weeks ago i read a tweet from The FA saying they were inviting everyone to provide evidence to their ongoing commission as to why there are less English players in top flight football and how this can be addressed.  See the link below for details (link to The FA website).

Click here

Untitled-1

I’ve always had a bee in my bonnet about England, not because i think there great but more a sense of wanting memorable moments.  I always say on a regular basis football is about moments.  Even if you win the league every season there are specific moments that make you smile and the same can be said about the team at the foot of the table.  So i think it’s this that bugs me.  As an England fan of some 20+ years I’ve witnessed disappointment on a regular basis.  In my opinion there have been 3 possible 4 ‘moments’ in this time frame where being a fan gave you the feeling you need.

  1. Euro 96 vs Holland
  2. Owen’s goal vs Argentina
  3. Beckham’s freekick vs Greece
  4. 5-1 vs Germany

Four moments in 20 years.  Some might say that’s sufficient.  But i think the thing that exacerbates the situation for me personally is that i missed the 5-1 entertaining  a female.  Oh well, that’s life, you live and learn. Its a bit like missing the winning goal in a cup final going to the toilet, which I’ve also done.  We need more moments.

Now the reason England are now no longer near the top of the tree is simple.  We are not good enough.  The reason we are not good enough is because we lack ‘top top’ players.  The reason we lack top top players is because our pool of players with top level experience is diminishing.  The reason its diminishing is because more foreign players are coming into the EPL.

I actually believe it’s a two part problem, obviously if there are more English players playing top flight football in theory we are possibly more likely to produce more top top players.  However i also believe there is a solitary aspect of the way English players play or in part their mentality that effect us in producing a team that can beat the best consistently. And no, it is not more practice at penalties.

Now reading the below may be a waste of your life. I can fully appreciate that if you do you may think it’s total nonsense, gibberish and the words of a sociopath.  You’d property be right. But, I’m almost convinced I’m right about movement and I’ve told almost everyone who will listen my theory in the past 5 years. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to let ‘England’ know.  This was my chance and I’m almost certain it will never be read.  Do you agree, read on to find out.

For more of me, my letters and my opinions follow me on Twitter.

29 December 2013
Greg Dyke
The FA

Dear Mr Dyke,

It’s clear that England are in no shape or form close to being one of the best international sides. I’ve been watching our national side for approximately 20 years. In that time I’ve only genuinely thought we could win a major tournament once during the early Sven years particularly if you don’t include Euro 96 due to myself being a young and naive fan. The way I see it there are two issues; the diminishing pool of English players and how they play as a group of English only players.

There’s a fine line between enjoyment and success. If as a fan you have one you can accept not having both. There are plenty of examples of this at club level. Based on expectations as a fan it is when you have neither that you become discouraged and disillusioned with the side. In the past ten plus years the England national side have fallen short at every hurdle (including failure to qualify once) and playing a poor brand of football despite a wide range of managers in charge (Eriksson, McClaren, Pearce, Capello and Hodgson). This is to such an extent that people regularly say ‘there’s no pressure on England to succeed’ but there always is.

As football fans here in England we have been spoilt by the quality of foreign imports our clubs have brought to the country. The likes of Zola, Cantona and Bergkamp set the scene and the imports have increased to such an extent that only the best of the English players now have the opportunity to play at the highest level in this country. Clubs like to think that they get more value for money by buying foreign. But by looking at some the foreign players currently plying their trade here it’s is clear to see that whilst there are many superb and dare I say it world class players in the English top flight there is many extortionately paid lower quality players (that are no better than English Championship or League one level). In my opinion the reason managers or more likely chairmen believe they get better value is simple. There are two hypothetical players. They would cost the same and in theory have identical quality. The first player is English and plays for a mid level championship side. The second plays for the champions of Romania, has been recently capped for Romania and has played a small amount of time in club European competition. Who is the manager going to choose? Despite the fact that we all know that the Championship is a division of significant quality only bettered by the top divisions of the major European countries the lure of international experience can be blinding. We now live in a world where clubs can select players from a worldwide pool and as such this dictate many clubs transfer policies.

The problem with the English Premier League becoming a showcase for the worlds best players is as I say only the very best of the English players reach this level or are even given the opportunity. I am sure that every club has an example of having young English talent on the fringes of the first team when the club delves into the transfer market for an obscure foreign player who ends up not making any serious impact on the side. Therefore a young English player is prevented from gaining top-flight experience and is usually sacrificed from the squad at some point in the future. I would love to support a team that had a large proportion of English players who continued year after year to be given the chance with a sprinkle of foreign quality. The sad reality is that due to the example I gave above that this just isn’t the case.

This strangulation of English talent is a major issue. I do not know how it can be resolved. We live in a PC world where the FA’s hands will be tied and I suspect would not want to come down on foreign players with an iron fist. Whilst this is a serious issue that needs tackling as soon as possible I still believe that we have serious players. Player for player on paper our players Individually are superb. That cannot be argued. We may not have any of the top 3 or 4. But we have numerous players worthy of being amongst the best players in Europe. The only way we will see a decline in imports is if there is an incentive to bring through homegrown players. By homegrown I mean English, not French or Spanish poached at the age of 14 and naturalised by the time they mature to first team duties.

The increased number of foreign players has led to a general change in the way English teams plays. The success that our clubs have had at European level in the last 20 years shows that the issue is not at club level, the EPL is not in decline and if anything has strengthened in the last 10-15 years. In last ten years we have had 8 finalists in the Champions League and 3 finalists in the Europa League. The issue and this being the main reason for my letter is that when the best English players are extracted from theses sides to fill an international side they fail to perform. It sounds simple and maybe it is. People will say we just aren’t good enough, maybe we aren’t, but we always under perform in a way that is beyond disappointing. I believe that I have identified the difference in our play and the vast majority of European and South American sides.

There is a lazy comment that has been on the lips of many a pundit in the last 5-6 years that England players lack technique and that our national side is not technical enough. What defines technique? My definition of technique is the ability to perform a given action and how well you do it. However the general feeling when that cliché is brought up is more an implication along the lines of retaining possession. I genuinely believe that our players generally are no lesser passers of the ball than many other nations. The long and short range passing of Gerrard, Lampard, Carrick and Rooney is as good as anyone. I will concede that we infrequently produce players who have an abundance of flair. My view is that the difference between England and most other nations is not quality of player or the level of technique that these players have but movement and intelligence of movement.

As I say we have players that are superb passers. For their club they pick out incredible passes for teammates week in week out. A number of our best players achieve almost immaculate pass completion statistic regularly. But when England come together it’s a different story. Watch any England game and the theme is misplaced passes. What is the reason for this? I believe that it’s down to players movement and how intelligent they move when we are in possession. You watch the Spanish teams. They have what I call perpetual movement. They are always offering a teammate who has the ball and easy pass. Because of this they keep the ball. This isn’t down to technique. This is more about the mental side and being physically capable of performing as such. Technique merely is the cherry on the top to pull something extraordinary out of the bag. England on the other hand do not take on any particular movement. Therefore our players are forced in to trying more ambitious balls and the success rate is clearly lower.

This type of intelligence off the ball can be coached. But is it currently being done? I cannot answer that question, as I am merely an observer who believes he has identified the difference between our football team and many others. We need to be building footballers for the future who are well rounded. We look at the likes of Spain, Brazil, Holland and Germany. They are producing footballers who can play in a variety of positions, I would suggest that many of their players can play everywhere bar keeper, because first and foremost they are well rounded players. Apart form the archetype utility man are there many English players who could do the same? It is these subtle differences that leaves us dragging behind.

Somehow the FA needs to enable an incentive to bring through English players or dare I say it a restriction on imports. New rules must be implemented to favour home grown English players. Whilst that is important and it is, we need to amend the way we coach in the UK to develop more rounded players who excel in off the ball movement and have high levels of football intelligence. Going back to what I first said, if we were playing a nice brand of football that excites the fans and give us optimism, would that be sufficient. I suggest so.

I trust the above has been of some interest

Regards

FootballByLetters

Edit: I just inserted the youtube video of Becks vs Greece. I watched it and it put a smile on my face. Point made.

 

My Letter to Hull City A.F.C Owner Assem Allan regards Hull Tigers rebranding

Football is changing. Some things can not be helped. The escalation of TV deals, foreign ownership, every fan taking on the role of the pundit or unrealistic expectations of pretty much everyone involved in the game. However some things need to stay the same. Football is a tribal game, even if nobody seems to support their local team any more, so in my opinion identity is everything. My letter sets out my opinion and covers a number of issues in order to address the recent proposal.

Mr A. Allan
Hull City A.F.C
KC Stadium
West Park
Hull
HU3 6HU

Mr Allan,

I am writing on behalf of the global football family. I hope that I can express the wide opinion of such people in this letter to you.

On the 11th December 2013 the club announced that they had submitted an application to the Football Association to formally change the name of the club from Hull City Association Football Club to Hull Tigers. The change has been proposed by yourself in an attempt to bring more money into the club. This is the short and accurate reason for the name change. The existing name has been used for 109 years. I believe you have been involved with the club for 3 of the 109 years. Despite the fans protesting and a widespread disapproval by the media and fans in general you have decided to continue to proceed with the endeavour.

I am not a Hull City A.F.C fan. Let me make that clear. I am a fan of football and all that it entails. I love the game, I love the tribal nature of the game and I love the debate and discussion that a game of kicking a ball on field can bring. I am wholly against this change despite my lack of real connection to this club.

Football Clubs are different entities to every business on the planet. Why? Football is almost a religion and the stadium is the place of worship. Emotion runs strong through the core of a football club to such an extent that the fans will not accept or should not need to accept a change of identity. Cardiff City FC are a great example. One of your counterparts Vincent Tan, who is their owner, decided to change the colour of the strip from blue to red despite the clubs nickname of the Bluebirds. This was done as part of a marketing strategy. I have no information to analyse whether this worked, but when I look at Cardiff City FC home games the crowd seem to be sporting blue garments.

You have publicly stated that the current full name is too long and that ‘City’ is too common as an identity. This may well be the case. Being called ‘The Arsenal’ ‘Tottenham Hotspur’ ‘Aston Villa’ or even being the team that everyone thinks of when you say the words ‘City or ‘United’ obliviously adds a certain amount of iconic association before you start. However the clubs identity comes from a number of things. The name, location, colours, nickname and its history all combine to make up the specific identity. These factors make teams individual and memorable. You can’t manufacture history. Just look at Wimbledon, going out of business, bought, rebranded and relocated. What came out of the ashes? A.F.C Wimbledon.

What you need to realise is that Hull City AFC is a football club first and a business second. All that I have read about your proposals are for your benefit. If you leave today, withdraw your money (something I’m not suggesting you do) and the club’s fortunes begin to decline will the people of Hull stop supporting their club. The answer is no. Supporting a team is not all about success. There are clubs out there that have never been in the Premier League or in European competition, some never will, some clubs hardly even warrant having a trophy cabinet. Whether you’re the best team in the country or the worse, football is all about moments, even the least successful teams in the country have genuine moments that make the fan’s heart’s beat a little faster, make the week worthwhile and a put a smile on their face.

In addition to all of the above I would guess that you have not thought about the current squad of players of the manager. As a betting man I predict that even if against all the odds Hull stay up Steve Bruce will be unemployed by next Christmas. Unrealistic expectations are a surety. Why not break the trend and run the club in a way that is the envy of the league.

Lets hope that the football association are like-minded and refuse the application. Be happy that the club already has an interesting nickname that can be adequately used for marketing purposes. Because if you are right in hoping to be a ‘leader’ in the defacing of British sport there are going to be more and more upset fans up and down the country.

Published in Late Tackle Magazine

I recently sent my latest blog entry to Late Tackle Magazine for consideration and i am pleased to say that it was published.  Late Tackle Magazine is a Football magazine published every 6 weeks which takes contributions from Britain’s leading fanzines and internet blogs while contributions are also received from experienced national newspaper sports journalists.  My article is featured in issue 18 which is available now for a price of £2.99.  Must admit that this has genuinely put a smile of my face at the end of a year that hasn’t been easy.  I will endeavour to produce some more material in the future for consideration. I look forward to the challenge.  If you would like to see the letters that the article refers to see click here.  For further information on the Magazine see http://www.latetacklemagazine.com/ Plus go and buy the magazine in support to ensure that it keeps going.

1489251_10152065073293320_796561573_n (1)

Response from my Letter to the Football Associations of Great Britain Regarding the British Home Championship

On the 14th August England Played Scotland at Wembley. It was good wasn’t it? A genuinely competitive ‘friendly’ that the fans thoroughly enjoyed. Three months earlier England had entertained Republic of Ireland to a 1-1 draw also at Wembley in another competitive ‘friendly’.  Northern Ireland beat England back in 2005 World Cup Qualifying and Wales participated in two keenly contested games with England during the previous Euro Qualifying rounds.

International football is a strange animal; teams typically play between 8 and 16 games a year depending on their success at major tournaments with many of these games in close proximately with large expanses of time between get togethers.  In addition to this the qualifying set up means that most major footballing nations will have 4 – 6 games over any given qualifying campaign which are basically walk overs.  Add friendlies to mix this means that less that 50% of games have any true meaning or competitive edge.

Personally as an England fan I have become particularly bored with our international games. Now, I look forward to the games and even get excited for many of them, its just that the games are always a let down. The Wembley games always seem to entice over 80,000 fans and the atmosphere in what is clearly one of the best stadia in the world is always of a reasonable level, its just what happens on the pitch is lukewarm.  I took my son to the San Marino game a year ago, which we both expected double figures, which whilst not being competitive should have at least been entertaining.  In reality we got a lethargic struggle to get to 5 goals.

Earlier this year I came to the conclusion that we need more competitive internationals (not less or the removal of friendlies as many commentators have suggested is the answer) and that the answer is the re-instatement of the British Home Championship. This annual championship was shelved in 1984 after 100 years of competition.  Whilst international games vs the Spains and Brazils of this world definitely are showpiece games which attract full houses and top sponsors, we have played a lot of games against mid level nations where we just show up or there are many squad drop outs. This effects the atmosphere and the turn out (only 62,000 in attendance vs Chile recently, which I attended). This needs to change.  If all international games are played with a competitive edge, we would improve when the harder tournament fixtures arrive.

photo (62)

I am convinced that a new and improved British Home Championship would be a success in terms of improving the competing nations as well as being a commercial success.  My conviction led me to writing to the heads of the four home nations. Read Here  Back in May of this year i penned a letter to The Football Association, The Irish Football Association, The Scottish Football Association and The Football Association of Wales. I devised an alternative to the annual championship that was shelved in 1984 and the poorly thought out tournament of 2011. My tournament follows these points;

  • Competed for by England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
  • Takes place on a two year cycle within the off years where there is no Major Football tournament applicable to these nations i.e 2015, 2017 and so on. Therefore there is no ‘major’ increase in games over the normal 12-month cycle. The tournament would also replace the friendlies that typically take place at this time in the off year.
  • Takes place over the course of a week to ten days with a simple tournament structure where the teams play each other once and the results tabulated resulting in the top two teams competing in a final.  Therefore there would be 4 rounds of matches including a showpiece event.
  • All games take place in one country. Utilising existing stadia.  Location to alternate fairly for each tournament visiting all four nations over the course of four tournaments. I propose this so this mini tournament mirrors the large ones.

The benefit of implementing such a tournament is clear.  The players will gain valuable tournament experience.  This is terms of playing games in quick succession as well as being away as a group as they would at a major tournament.  This cannot be replicated by a one off friendly in my opinion.

The fans would receive a more enjoyable experience following their nation and the host would have the opportunity to arrange a tournament and bring in a large amount of tourism. It may sound pathetic to some, but there will be realistic chances of silverware that would have some, albeit small, standing and bragging rights.  In such a small tournament with a rotating location I genuinely believe that it would not be a one horse race. I can already hear people saying that England would win this each time. But would they? We have already seen over the years that home nation games are very competitive.  It also works both ways giving fans interesting and realistically obtainable success.  With the exception of England these nations have had a very poor qualification success rate for major tournaments, therefore the players do not have tournament experience at international level.

I received two responses from my four letters. The responses were from England and Scotland. The Chief Executive of the Scottish FA Stewart Regan responded to me whilst the English response was from someone in customer relations ‘on behalf of David Bernstein’.  Both rejected the idea as being feasible.

The English response suggested two reasons why the old tournament was cancelled.  These were International fixture congestion and low attendance figures. No real reason against a new tournament are stated however there is a general comment regarding the demand on modern players with the letter continuing by stating they believe that the players will ‘gain better experience playing against other sides’.  Reference to the fact that some matches between the nations have taken place in recent years is made. The comment on low attendance figures may have been the case at the time but it should be appreciated that in the 1980’s attendance figures were generally lower than the decades either side or at the present day.

The Scottish response has a similar feeling in that Mr Regan has stated that ‘the coach wishes to challenge the team by playing countries from throughout Europe and Worldwide, thus allowing new players to compete against different styles of play to be more ready in the competitive qualifying matches’.  An interesting additional point is made that the traditional international friendly dates in June may be utilised for qualifying games. This is disappointing if true.  This is a organisational issue.  If the tournament was proposal and agreed to by the nations and was a viable sponsorship opportunity, I am sure that the governing bodies would allow, sanction and assist in getting it off the ground.

Ultimately I feel it’s about time that the fun, enjoyment and passion is brought back to international football.  This country gets behind the team for one week every couple of years, which quickly fizzles out to the same sense of disappointment and realisation. I have proposed feasible a solution, which at present the home nations are not keen on, but hopefully it has given them at the very least something to think about.

photo 1 (26) copy photo 2 (22) copy