Monday, 1 December 2008

The beautiful game?

'Oil Rich Abu Dhabians - nil, American food millionaire one' as yesterday's Manchester 'derby' result may have been described. When you say you are from Manchester the one thing people these days know about the City is 'Manchester United'. This was a match between the richest club in the world and probably the most famous club in the world, and although both teams have Manchester in their titles, I gather that there was not a Mancunian player on the pitch.

It's a far cry from the days of the footballer's maximum wage. These days top players earn about as much in a week as a qualified nurse earns in 3 years, all for kicking a piece of inflated leather around a green field (the footballer not the nurse that is).

People who rage against the fat cats of the large corporations seem perfectly tolerant of these obscene amounts of money; maybe the reason is the hold that the 'beautiful game' has on the psyche of a large proportion of the male population.
Support for a football team is akin to 'imprinting' in baby geese; once you have pinned your allegience to a club it is almost impossible to change; they say it is easier to change your spouse than your bank - I would say it is far easier to change your bank than to change your support for a football club. (I speak from experience - for my sins I am a supporter of Newcastle United, and therefore lumbered with a team whose playing staff include a violent criminal - can I break free? - it hasn't happened yet. It does mean I am neutral from the point of view of this article though).

Assuming one can start from a neutral position, which team should a Green support? The Ethical Consumer magazine analysed the premership clubs for their ethical performance and surprise surprise, none came out that well. Of the 2 big Manchester teams City deserve some credit for a range of measures to reduce their environmental footprint; these included a large on-site wind turbine, although that plan has now been stopped over safety fears. United have no history of note in this area, (although today's Manchester Evening News includes an intervention in favour of the TiF proposals ( here)by Sir Alex Ferguson, albeit not for particularly green reasons).

Regarding the names which the teams proudly display on their shirts, City's 'Thomas Cook' will not go down too well with Greens concerned with the expansion of air travel, but United's 'AIG' the big US insurance company, have been major donors to the US Republican Party. AIG's loyalty to the US agenda was shown recently by the refusal of a UK subsidiary to provide travel insurance to visitors to Cuba on the grounds that it was one of the world's most dangerous countries along with Afghanistan and Sudan! (reported in the Independent).

So ranking on Green issues puts City above United in the table on top in my book, although that could change when the new oil sheikh owners get into their stride.

1 comment:

scott redding said...

I'm disappointed when community oriented teams (Charlton, for example)get turfed out of the Premiership. When you look at the stadiums that Germany produced/renovated for the World Cup, we need to put greywater recycling and renewable energy at the heart of new stadium designs in England.

Unfortunately, when you look at new stadiums (Hull, Leicester, Coventry, Arsenel) over the last 10 years, they don't incorporate things like this.