Football’s Death From A Thousand Cuts

Are you a glass half-full or a glass half-empty sort of person? If you’re not sure, as yourself how you felt in the wake of Liverpool’s draw with Crystal Palace this weekend. Those of you with a more positive outlook will feel that three clean sheets in a row in the Premier League is good news. You will doubtless agree with the manager’s take on things, that the games have been very similar in recent trips to Selhurst Park and the only difference is that this time we didn’t score. After the humbling at the hands of Real Madrid, the more positive-minded amongst you will be of the opinion that a boring match was exactly what Liverpool needed. If you tend to be more negative in your outlook, you will feel that there is something fundamentally broken with the Reds this season. I have made attempts to look at why this season is what it is already, but still we continue to suffer in ways that we really shouldn’t, which this latest result merely serves to reinforce as an idea.

The debate over the owners will rage on until the day that they’re no longer at the helm. Personally, I will always hold a nuanced view of what they’ve done during their time at the club. There is no question whatsoever that they’ve made mistakes at times, with the ticket prices and European Super League being the two most obvious examples. I will also need no convincing that they should’ve spent more. That being said, they always had faith in Financial Fair Play rules having more substance than they ended up having and during their time at Anfield they could’ve done nothing different to what they did do and seen us win four Premier League titles, three League Cups and arguably the same number of European Cups. On balance, when you look at the development of Anfield, I think they’ve been good owners. The fact that a lot of people won’t agree and that #FSGOUT is an ever-present hashtag on Twitter is a sign of how football is dying from a thousand cuts.

My Morally Bankrupt Billionaire Is Better Than Yours

Over the course of the weekend, I had a number of interactions on social media over my assertion that I’d rather see Manchester United win the League Cup than Newcastle United. The logic was simple: the Saudi Arabian takeover at St. James’ Park means that I don’t want the Geordies to win so much as a throw-in until the blood money of their sports-washing owners has been taken out of the English game. The same is true of Manchester City, with the number of charges that are hanging over Pep Guardiola’s team showing what a farce the Premier League has become. Many of the replies that I received were people telling me I’m wrong and that they obviously hate Manchester United far more than I do. To those people, the sports-washing taking place in Newcastle is just part of the modern game and anyway, the Glazers are just as bad because American has the death penalty and is limiting women’s rights to an abortion and so on and so forth.

The fact that Liverpool fans who are against sports-washing had to choose between wanting Manchester United to win this weekend or being ok with a post-takeover Newcastle lifting the trophy is a sign of just how far down the rabbit hole football as a sport has gone. I grew up despising the Red Devils. Even aside from the rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester as cities, which is precisely why I don’t think Manchester-born referees should be allowed to take charge of our matches, there is also the fact that I had to watch them win everything there was to win under Alex Ferguson. As much as I hate them, though, I also have respect for how the club achieved its success. As Liverpool were resting on their laurels after nearly two decades of success, United realised the growing importance of the commercialisation of football and tore down part of Old Trafford to re-built it. Their riches are from success, not because they’re state-owned, so I’m glad they won.

Can’t We All Aspire To Be Better?

Suggest that you don’t want Liverpool to be state-owned on social media and you’ll receive any number of replies from people telling you why you’re wrong. They perform mental gymnastics full of false equivalence to say that the fact that we’re sponsored by Standard Chartered means that actually we’re just as bad as City and Newcastle being owned by murderous regimes that oppress members of the LGBTQ+ community and really your problem is that the owners of those clubs aren’t white. That’s right, you’re against ownership by the likes of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates not because you care about human rights, but because you’re a big old racist. This is what the influx of money into football has done to us all, made us into apologists for the worst people on the planet. I should call my LGBTQ+ friends and tell them that I’m sorry, but Qatar would buy us Jude Bellingham so who cares if they’d kill them?

When I said that Newcastle fans had sold their morals for the chance of some silverware, I was informed that no football fans should be expected to give up their passion for the sport because of owners arriving that they had no choice about. I respectfully disagree. If the Reds get bought by a nation state, whether that be one from the Middle East or a ‘white’ one, my love for the game would be done. What would any silverware matter if I knew that we’d simply bought it because we spent money without regard, used as a pawn in a battle for supremacy in the world of politics? If I’m honest, I’m barely clinging on to my interest in football as it is, given the manner in which Liverpool and Real Madrid fans were treated by UEFA, who care about nothing but the bottom line. The football that I’d be walking away from isn’t the same game as the one that I fell in love with. I think we should all aspire to be better than this and not criticise those that want their game back.

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