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Kuper, Simon

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The Observer - United Kingdom | 01/03/2010

British football denies its origins

On Friday the highly indebted FC Portsmouth became the first British Premier-League football club to seek bankruptcy protection. Other clubs are also struggling with huge debts. Managers must return to the roots of the British national sport, the Sunday newspaper The Observer writes: "Football clubs fill a peculiar hole in British emotional life. Many people get ritual and community chiefly from football. For some, their club's stadium is more a home than the house they live in. Football, once 'the working man's ballet', has become the joy of all classes and ages, of women as well as men. It exists to serve fans. That's why for decades the Football Association forbade club owners from profiting from their clubs. Directors couldn't get paid, and dividends were capped. The aim was to ensure that clubs were run by 'the right class of men who love football for its own sake'."

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