A gain of two halves: Spread the wealth in football and off the pitch – Keir Mudie


According to the boss of the Premier League, 50 per cent of people in our country don’t like football.

Maybe it’s the circles I move in but I have never met any of them.

What do they talk about?

What do they do at the weekend?

How do they get through life?

Still, good luck to them, I suppose.

With some free time in Manchester this week, I managed to visit ­somewhere I’d meant to go to for years – The National Football Museum.

There’s a trend in modern museums to combine a bit of life and social history and this is a fine example.

Game between Huddersfield Town v Crystal Palace in the Premier League tonight

You learn about football, and you see all the important memorabilia.

Allan Clarke’s 1972 FA Cup Final shirt is there, Norman Hunter’s 1974 PFA Footballer of the Year trophy and various other bits from lesser clubs than Leeds United too. But you also learn about football and culture.

And at the moment there’s an exhibition of the work of photographer Stuart Ray Clarke.

One photo – taken at a non-league game – is called The Three Pillars of Society. In the background are an old factory and a grand-looking church. In the foreground a football match is in full flow.

Industry, religion and the game in one iconic shot.

Of those three pillars only football seems to be thriving. But not all of it.

At the very moment I was walking round the museum, Bolton Wanderers – a founder member of the Football League in 1888 – were in court just across town facing administration proceedings.

Some argue it’s difficult to find sympathy for clubs who gambled and missed out.

But well-run teams struggle anyway, thanks to the rising cost of wages, transfers and bills.

The solution to this is one that could work in the wider economy – redistribution of wealth.

Earlier this year it emerged the gap in average turnover between Premier League and English Football League clubs had widened to £133million.

Lots of that is based on TV money, which naturally is bigger in the top league. But it shouldn’t stay there.

The Football Supporters’ Federation say it should “trickle, if not waterfall, down from the Premier League”.

Quite right.

It’s the same in the economy at large – unemployment may be at a low but wages have not kept up and are lagging a decade behind. Some people are ­getting very rich, while the rest aren’t. Lots can be done.

Proper collection of corporation tax, a clamp down on tax avoiders and all the rest of it.

Proper wages and investment in the community to give us more money to spend and a higher-skilled workforce.

And developing a sense of fairness in business. A belief that there is more to success than accumulating capital.

It’s like football and life in general – a lot more fun when we’re all in it together.


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