John Harris

Journalist & Author

Football: big money, big clubs, big problems? | John Harris

As the season gets going, we want to know your thoughts about supporting smaller clubs and how finance affects the sport

A couple of weeks ago, we asked Comment is free users for their suggested examples of the way that the media often distorts local stories beyond recognition. Given that the riots had just started, the response was a little underwhelming: this is a subject to which we’ll return, ideally before Christmas – so if you know of any story that fits the bill – we’re talking about ‘Asylum seekers eat swans’ syndrome, essentially – please get in touch at anywherebutwestminster@gmail.com.

In the meantime, we’re going to focus the next instalment on football. With the start of the 2011-12 season and the imminent closure of the transfer window, it’s time to look at the effect that methods of modern business are having on the beautiful game. Massive sums are being spent, particularly by the kind of new arrivals in the top-flight represented by Manchester City. Manchester United have just part-floated on the Singapore stock exchange. Meanwhile, many clubs are struggling – though supporters are beginning to fight back via new models of mutualisation and community ownership (see the Supporters Direct initiative for details).

On Wednesday, we’re going to the clash between Chester FC and FC United of Manchester, both representative of the new wave of football mutuals. We want to feed in as much opinion and information from Comment is free into our coverage as possible. So, some questions…

What’s it like supporting a small club, particularly in the shadow of a Premiership giant? What’s the appeal of allegiance to a lower-league side? Has where you live lost a football club, or is it in the midst of a fight to save one? Do you support a big club, and have concerns about what big money is doing to the experience of being a fan? And to what extent do you think that the mutual/community ownership option is the way to go?

We’ll be back on the thread at regular intervals. Obviously.

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