However, something is coming up that we just can’t ignore. On June 8th, the United Kingdom will hold a snap General Election. This is a chance for the much maligned parties to fight back as much as it is for the party with a majority to establish a control - thus the parties of the UK have, for the most part, come out swinging.
There are more important issues on the table in this election - namely the care of the elderly, disabled rights, free school meals, the existence of grammar schools, and how the United Kingdom handle their exit from the European Union - if at all.
However, our area of interest is sport. Anyone with a heart or a soul or a working brain has already settled the main issues surrounding the upcoming general election. This blog, is about sport - so sport will be our area of interest. Most of the parties have released a manifesto of intention should they get into or retain a position of power as the UK Government on June 8th, so let’s see what they are saying about sport, shall we?
The Labour Party, headed by Jeremy Corbyn will be our main focus - simply because they have the most to say about sport in their manifesto. The count, provided by Nick Harris (@sportingintel) shows that Labour talk about sport the most.
However, talk of sport has dropped throughout all the parties manifestos, it is Labour that have made the biggest commitment to sport in the United Kingdom.
Labour state that sport in the United Kingdom must be run in the interests of those who ‘participate in it and those who love it, not just for a privileged few’.
Importantly to our sport of interest, Football, Labour say that they will give football fans a greater say in how their clubs are run. For fans of Leyton Orient, Blackburn, Coventry and other clubs who have suffered from terrible ownership - this might be a godsend. How will they implement it? Well any tiny step that forces the EFL to actually do something, will help a lot.
Labour’s step? It’s actually huge. They will make it the law for Supporter’s Trusts to have a big say in the governance of a club by being able to appoint or remove two members of the board. Labour will also ensure that Supporter’s Trusts can purchases shares of a club upon a successful takeover to keep fans in picture behind the scenes.
Another point that Labour make is to ensure that disabled fans can actually access games. Disabled fans have been dealt an awful hand when it comes to sport thanks to terrible views and awful accessibility. That’s not to mention allocation, some matches only have five tickets available. The sports authorities will be pushed by Labour to make ‘rapid improvements’.
The game of Football will undergo inspection by the Labour party as well, especially the Premier League. Labour will demand that the league invest 5% of the television income gained back into football. This will mean that the Premier League pays for coaches, trainers, pitches and clubs across the scope of English Football.
The final point made by Labour is that they will try to curb ‘ticket touts’ to ensure that fans always pay the right prices for tickets to sporting events.
While my own prejudices and opinions put me firmly against the Conservative Party, I had been eagerly awaiting the release of their manifesto to see what Theresa May and her party would do to improve sport in the United Kingdom. In fact, this article has been waiting for today to reflect on what the Conservatives will do for sport in England and beyond.
However, after reading all 88 pages of the Conservative Party manifesto, I was disappointed to discover that there was just one mention of sport.
“We shall continue to support school sport, delivering on our commitment to double support for sports in primary schools.”
While important, this is the only reference to sport in the Conservative Party manifesto and unfortunately of no importance to either myself or this blog. I assume that they will back safe-standing initiatives. I have wrote to my local MP - a Conservative - who will be fighting for reform in the FA. However there is no concrete mention of sport and it’s importance to the UK in the Conservative Party manifesto.
Unless you think Fox Hunting is a sport, then there are two mentions.
Tim Farron’s Liberal Democrats suffered a huge blow in the last election under previous leader Nick Clegg, but are trying their hardest to get back on their feet, and while their mention of sport is tiny in terms of word count, it’s likely the statement with the biggest impact:
“Move towards introducing ‘safe standing’ at football clubs, requiring the Sports Grounds Safety Authority to prepare guidance for implementing this change”
Safe-standing is a move to repeal the effects of Hillsborough and other stadium incidents which saw a hard line approach in the policing and treatment of football fans. Stands were made all-seater and thus ‘sterilised’ in the eyes of the average footy fan. While safety standards were needed in footballing arenas - it was never implemented in the right away and it was always the actions of fans that were blamed - not the actions of the Government and their agents. Safe-standing is a great middle ground, with allocated seats and ticket numbers that won’t suffer the same issues as a bog-standard terrace. Labour made no mention of it, but it’s assumed they are in support of it due to MP Andy Burnham’s work. One would assume that the Conservative Government wouldn’t stand in the way either. However it is only the Lib Dems that mention it at all in their manifesto.
The Liberal Democrats also promise a second referendum on the subject of the UK’s exit from the European Union. ‘Brexit’ could have huge ramifications for Football, especially if a ‘hard Brexit’ (desired by Conservatives and unopposed by Labour) is introduced which would see the UK split from the EU without some sort of deal being in place. Effectively, this could create a number of painful situations for EU players currently playing in the UK. For Villa, this could mean that a number of players could have to leave Aston Villa without a contract being renewed. Brexit is a situation that is still very much ‘up in the air’, so not one soul can say for definite what will happen - all we know is that if it happens, it will affect EU nationals in some way. A second referendum could stave off Brexit (although referendums are not binding words of the law, but a gauge of public opinion ahead of an official decision), meaning that Football continues as is, without any effect on foreign players.
Without a doubt, there are two parties that sports fanatics will be happy with - however just because a party gets into power doesn’t mean that change happens. Change has, and always will be, brought from a grassroots level upwards. If you make your voice heard, it might ensure change.
On a final note, I could only write about the information given to me. Labour and the Liberal Democrats get more of a backing because thanks to their manifestos, I know what they will do for football and for sport. I can’t tell you what the Conservatives think of safe standing because they don’t say in their document.
Also - no matter who you vote for, you need to register and you need to do it ASAP. Click here if you’re unsure. Your vote might change the future of Football in the UK.