Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What they wanted, they got

Turning our neglected ground into all seater stadia was not not just a pure Taylor safety-based recommendation, reaffirms this recent LRB letter in italics below. The Thatcher government wanted it to avoid the bureaucratic nightmare of making every ground accessible for club members only and the FA (moves already afoot to establish a breakaway league) wanted more revenue that seats would bring.

"Roy Hattersley wrote to me on 2 January 2003: ‘[Lord Justice Taylor] actually told me that the obligation to all-seater stadia had been included in his report after pressure from both the government and the Football Association. The government needed an alternative bright idea to enable it to back away from the unworkable notion of only allowing registered club members into grounds and the football authorities wanted the extra revenue which flows from seating – the extra costs can be borne by the different sort of customer it attracts'."

It's a useful reminder that the conspiracy around the Hillsborough disaster was much wider than the criminal negligence, media lies, inadequate inquiries and inability to prosecute any of the key groups involved in both precipitating the tragedy then failing to deal with it. The tragedy was also the means to take the people's beautiful game and make it a commoditised spectacle, to wring far more money out of the cash cow.

As fans we may have wanted to go to a generally safer and better equipped environment where hooligans would not be free to roam, but we did not want a diaster and then dodgy report to achieve it. And we really didn't want the ultimate end product of stadia without character, rip-off tickets, merchandise zones, five quid pies and middle-class newbies taking our place. We look at the German model with safe standing, supporter-owned clubs and degree of financial caution with no little envy.

Click for the full letter from Iain Mackintosh.

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