A New Football League for London

posted by Geoff Andrews at Saturday, February 21, 2009

21 February

The recession seems to have brought little respite for football fans, with the new type of football owners showing little respect for some of the simple traditions of the beautiful game as they spend enormous amounts of cash on transfer fees, wages, and corporate facilities. Ticket prices remain high, with many owners seemingly oblivious to the plight of the ordinary fan. Some clubs now seem to be the plaything of the owner; others are run by people who know next to nothing about the traditions of the game, and sometimes few of the rules. The only surprising thing about the Allen Stanford episode is that a similar thing didn't happen in football first, though calciopoli and other corruption scandals have recently been on the rise. Kick-off times are often decided by global media corporations, with little consideration for fans. A further consequence of corporate domination has been the dilution of distinctive club traditions and identity in the wake of globalisation. The rise of AFC Wimbledon is a great story of resisting this trend of negative globalisation but is an isolated example.

It used to be the case that amateur league football represented a clear alternative to the corporate domination of professional football and there are some excellent examples of alternative leagues. However, even here there has been a reduction in the variety of leagues and the rise of the 'corporate amateur league' with midweek football becoming a popular way of encouraging teamwork for company managers. Philosophy Football FC started life in the Musical Association League in 1995, an interesting assortment of artistic talents, then switched to the Grafton Millennium League, another friendly Sunday league. Six years ago we moved from Sunday football to join the Londoners Midweek League, which relieved the organisational burdens of organising a pitch and a referee in exchange for very high fees to a league run on entrepreneurial lines and including some of the biggest multinational companies. Initially, particularly after winning a championship in our first season, we thought we could co-exist as a counter cultural alternative, promoting the kind of internationalism, fair play and dissent which we had been able to put into practice on regular tours and which had always been part of philosophy football's own 'philosophy'.

Weekly matches against the likes of Viacom Outdoor have taken their toll however, and while the tours have continued to expand into new countries and more cultural events, cold nights in Willesden against soulless opponents have lost their appeal. It is now the time for further change. This time, however, we have more ambition, and do not want to join somebody else's league but to set up our own league, on grass rather than astro-turf and which embodies the wider philosophy of the club; a kind of 'good, clean and fair football'. We are inviting like-minded teams, including NGOs, the alternative media and others who enjoy the simple pleasures of the beautiful game to join us in a new 8 team sunday league from September 2009.