Blair condemns football greed
Sunday 15 January 1995
At the dinner, held in tribute to Sir Stanley Matthews on his 80th birthday, the Labour leader will warn that the game is in danger of being "tainted by greed".
Mr Blair, shocked at the £7m paid by Manchester United to Newcastle for the striker Andy Cole, his son Nicky's football idol, will question how any player can be worth so much. Sir Stanley, the greatest name in the game, commanded only £2,500 in 1961, MrBlair will point out.
His speech will tell the clubs they cannot take fans for granted, saying: "People might begin to think there is a link between the higher prices they pay for seats and the multi-million- pound transfers and wages which Sir Stanley could only dream of."
Lamenting that money has become a dominant motivation in the game, he will continue: "Football remains the people's sport, but for many people it is becoming too costly." Tickets, travel and souvenirs have made it a very pricey pastime.
Mr Blair insists: "There is a market, certainly, but there is a community too. Football clubs are part of it."
He is particularly critical of the high cost of football strips marketed by the clubs. "There is a fine line between marketing and exploitation. Fashion cannot justify the constant change of strips which parents are then pressurised to buy."
The Labour leader, once a Newcastle fan, prefers to play tennis in private - though he has been tempted by photographers into kicking a ball around the garden of his Islington home. He is unhappy about the boosting of individual players at the expense ofteam values, and the rampant commercialisation that leaves some clubs bigger and richer while others go to the wall.
"We have to reflect on whether the sport has become tainted," he will tell the tribute dinner. "I am not saying it has. I merely observe the extent to which the game has changed, the extent to which money is so often its motivation."
Man Utd accused, page 7
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 3 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 4 Motorists taunt suicidal woman on bridge and tell her to 'get on with it'
- 5 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...