Thursday, November 28, 2002

The potentially perilous financial state of English football is again highlighted in today's Guardian with a story that produces two examples of decline. The first is the revelation that ITV feel that they paid too much for the deal to televise Premiership football, meaning that it is unlikely that England's top division will receive such a good deal again. Secondly is the news from York that chairman John Batchelor has handed over his shares to the club's Supporters Trust in an attempt to achieve stability. Of course events at Lincoln and elsewhere show that supporters control is no guarantee of financial stability, but doubtless similar organisations throughout the league will be watching events at Bootham Crescent very closely to see if it provides a successful, replicable model.

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Thursday, November 21, 2002

Oxford United supporters are all too well aware of the heritage that has been lost with the demolition of the Manor. Obviously we're not alone as clubs up and down the country either relocate or redevelop their existing grounds in the inexorable move towards lookalike soulless stadia. This is a theme that one of Rage Online's favourite authors, Simon Inglis, has picked up on in this very interesting article in Sunday's Observer.

Inglis concentrates on the architecturally significant grounds (well he is an architect), especially the Leitch stadia, but I'm sure that he would be the first to admit that grounds such as the Manor, Boothferry Park, Feethams etc also brought their own unique character to the league, which is a poorer place without them. He makes the valid point that football grounds do not receive the same level of protection as other historic buildings and whilst there are often good cases to be made for improvements and upgrades (and rebuilds) these are often done with more regard to the balance sheet than making the ground visually interesting and original.

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Thursday, November 14, 2002

The Nationwide League site reports that nine Stoke fans have been banned for life by their club for racist abuse. This is welcome news indeed, and we hope that Oxford United would take a similar stance if supporters at the Kassam Stadium are ever convicted of similar offences. This sort of approach, though, has to go hand in hand with attempts to educate people that racism is unacceptable, ignorant, and just plain wrong. Unfortunately many people, including those who claim not to be racists, don't actually recognise racism, which is a bit of a problem when you're trying to eliminate it. Clubs can help by being proactive in their attempts to attract more people from ethnic minorities to attend games, whilst informing regular supporters why they're doing this, why it's important, and what they can do to help. Not too difficult in theory, but sometimes the obstacles to putting it into practice seem insurmountable.

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Wednesday, November 06, 2002

An article that we missed from last week's Guardian Online, all about how fans are organising to save their clubs using the internet as a vital tool. Although the article was written by someone purporting to support swindon (nobody's perfect) it does highlight some success stories (and, who knows, perhaps swindon will be one of them?) and gives an inkling into the workings of supporters trusts.

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