Football fans, players and campaigners know that something is wrong with the game. The roar of the crowd has been muffled; tickets no longer reflect economic realities; fewer young people can go to matches; traditions are swept away by imperious owners; the game’s administrators attend to the needs of the powerful before those of the public; and the private opulence at the top of the game contrasts with the public squalor of the grassroots.
We see that people and organisations try to resist: from protests against sponsors, challenges to club’s owners to demands for safe standing. Some may still say that politics and football don’t mix, but a political struggle for how the game is run and staged is evident every week.
The people who run and own the game have the money, power and authority. We only have the justice of our case and the strength of our numbers. The conventional ways of making that voice heard, lobbying, policy-work behind the scenes are important but they can only get so far without making the scale and reach of discontent visible. So how can our voice be made to count?
If you have asked these questions, or if these are your concerns, F.A.N. – The Football Action Network – is reaching out to you. We want to create an open, unbureaucratic, flexible network of football activists – of supporters’ trusts, independent fan groups, campaigners in the women’s game, advocates for grassroots football – that seeks to build alliances across clubs, leagues, nations and interests.
We need to focus upon what unites rather than divides us and use this as a starting-point for collaborative, innovative, provocative but humorous, eye-catching activities and protests across the football community.
We do not seek to supplant or undermine organisations like the Football Supporters’ Federation and Supporters Direct which do excellent and important work. We do not ask anyone to sign up to an agenda they find problematic. We are in the business of building solidarity, support and consensus and taking them to the stadiums, the streets, the sponsors and the boardrooms.
We have, as football fans, followers, players and coaches, more power than we are allowed to believe. We have set up F.A.N. to make it a reality. We hope that you will join us.