“The word 'apolitical' has to be the worst
in the English language. EVERYTHING is political.” – Sam Down (aka @GreenSamPAFC)
What Sam has said is so obvious it hardly
needs saying but his saying it has struck a chord with me. In an Argyle context
one of the, rather weak it has to be said, oft repeated statements used to
justify any number of topics is “nobody is interested in the politics; they
just want to have a couple of pints, go to a match and watch their team play
football”. Well I want to sink a pint or two and then watch my team play
football but it hardly stops there, does it? Not if you are intellectually
adult, for want of a better phrase, anyway.
How might you have travelled to the game?
Train, bus, car, coach, aeroplane, Shanks’s pony? Those things are fuelled by
diesel or electric or petrol or pasties (other foodstuffs are available – so I
am told). So there’s road tax, duty and/or VAT to be paid for them and that
money comes out of your wages (also taxed of course). So if you think the price
you pay is too high you need to pay less tax which in turn means that we can
afford lower pensions for our elderly or fewer soldiers, hospitals or teachers.
Don’t grumble about any of them being cut or under-resourced if you want a
cheaper tank of petrol. Like it or not that’s politics.Or maybe it takes too long to travel. Maybe
there is a poor bus or train service or maybe the roads are chockers with
traffic. Politics again: it is our government at local and national level that
sets transport infra-structure and that is paid for by taxes.
Once at a game political decisions have
been taken to ensure that standing to watch a game is now all but prohibited
everywhere. You aren’t allowed to stand should you wish to because politicians somewhere
passed the law making it illegal to do so. We can’t drink a beer on the
terraces at a football match (unlike at a cricket or rugby match – despite rugby,
of course, often being played in exactly the same stadia with fans sitting in
exactly the same seats) because politicians say we can’t.
The philosophy behind the way a club is run
is political and you can see the differing models at different clubs of various
sizes up and down the country. So the ownership model of your club is political.
The profits and/or losses that your club makes impacts on the tax it pays and
that affects roads, hospitals, schools, police, the military and everything else.
All political once again.
Taking the politics out of football is
impossible just as taking politics out of everything else is. I can’t help but
wonder why anybody would espouse the “just watch the football” line unless
their motivation lies elsewhere and they are saying one thing to achieve
another all of which is very Machiavellian (and Machiavelli was, of course, a
It is very, very clear that the Apolitical
Thing is completely nonsensical on many practical levels but the real killer is
the paradox that any decision to attempt to be apolitical is in itself a definably
political one meaning that whatever the grounds for saying it and whatever the
desired objective might be the cause is immediately lost as soon as it is
Or it does in the post-child world anyway.