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A clear conscience?

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Curly Tom:
A clear conscience?

The whole ITV Digital mess has got me thinking. Iím personally very worried about the lower leagues in this country. For years theyíve been in financial trouble, clinging on by the skin of their teeth, relying on wonderful cup runs or selling a young star to a Premiership club. Now it seems that the end is getting very close indeed for some small clubs and this ITV Digital cock up could be the nail in several football club coffins.

Itís well known that Iím a full on OOTer. I have no connections with Liverpool itself and was born and live in the ĎWest Countryí. Believe it or not Iím not a farmer, despite the fact that I live in the cow shit hole that is Wiltshire. Anyway as a very young lad I tussled over whether or not I should support a so called Ďlocal side.í My burning love was for Liverpool, but I knew I couldnít justify my support for them and I still canít but I know I made the right choice.

That doesnít mean however that I donít feel a slight twang of guilt when I hear of the trouble Bristol Rovers the club my dad supported as a boy are in, or Swindon Town the club just down the road. One of my best friends is a Swindon fan and he is always banging on about the trouble their in, how all the young kids support Utd and how he thinks everyone should support their local team. Luckily he canít argue with me much because I tend to see Liverpool as much as he sees Swindon but it does make me think and feel ever so slightly hypocritical. After all I canít really say that Iím worried for lower league clubs when I support the most successful team ever and currently one of the richest. I canít imagine Liverpool FC not existing in a few months time, but there will be many loyal fans of the likes of Swindon and Bury who might have to face it.

I went round in circles thinking about it all and came to the conclusion that I really shouldnít have anything to feel guilty about. The bigger picture needs to be looked at. I chose Liverpool as my club, donít ask me why, it was just the feeling I got when I saw that all red kit, that LiverbirdÖÖÖÖ. The Kop. In many ways supporting Liverpool was probably the harder option than choosing a local side. After all itís easier to claim and appear to be a true fan when you live near the club. Itís easy to hide behind your post code but itís been much harder for me to show what a loyal Liverpool fan I am when I live so far away and have no connections with the city at all.

Iím not sure itís really about where you live, itís about being a true and loyal fan. After all there will be some Liverpool fans who can boast that they were born and bred in the city, but that doesnít make them any more loyal than a red from Devon who sits on a coach for 12 hours every weekend.

What Iím trying to say is that itís not necessarily the numbers of fans, or there whereabouts but theyíre loyalty which is important. Iíve been to see Swindon play. I went with my mate on Boxing Day for a bit of a ladís day out. The problem as far as I could see what that they must have had about 500 true and loyal fans. The rest didnít have a clue, you may think some of the day-trippers at Anfield are bad but there were some 1st class tosspots around! I canít say the same for other clubs, but at Swindon there seemed to be too many part timers. People coming just because itís nice to go to the footie on a Saturday, they probably only go one or two times a season. You also see a lot of kids wandering about with Utd shirts on, of course itís Utd they Ďreallyí support but they just go to Swindon every now and again because itís close. Theyíll never set foot in Manchester but itís Utdís merchendise theyíre buying and not Swindonís. I suppose it could be argued that it doesnít matter who comes through as long as they pay but surely 1000 loyal fans who keep coming back are better than 2000 part times who only come out when the weather is alright or granny isnít over for the weekend. None of this is particularly relevant to Liverpool, I just think that what needs to be encouraged is supporting a team properly, wherever youíre from. The important thing is if you support your local team thatís great, but support them with a passion not with another teamís shirt on. If you support Liverpool or even Utd and youíre from just south of Watford, who cares as long as you love that club and bust a gut to support that team in the best way you can.

I feel bad about whatís happening to the lower division clubs but Iím not going to feel guilty about it. Itís not our fault, itís the fault of the Premier League as a whole and of ITV. The widening gap between the Premiership and the Nationwide needs to be breached because I donít care what anyone says the Premiership canít survive alone, everything needs a basis. However sturdy a brick is, if itís balancing on legs of paper eventually it will fall.

In theory the ITV TV deal was a good idea, they just over estimated it and gave the lower league clubs false hope. There needs to be less money pumped into the Premiership and more pumped into the lower leagues, from all angles. Ití unlikely that the huge amounts of money flying round the top flight are going to decrease but more should be done to encourage money to trickle down into the Nationwide.

Weíre a nation that loves football, but if weíre not careful itís going to be ruined by its own success. Iím not going to worry about the fact that I support Liverpool rather than a local team, Iím simply going to support my club to the best of my ability and hope that others do the same with theirs whether theyíre in the Premiership or the second division.



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