Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Labour’s football policy reveals what the party really thinks about business

One of the few things that brought real joy at the Lib Dem conference last week was the party passing a football policy that included a lament about the sport’s focus on winning and the danger of an influx of overseas investment into the hugely successful Premier League.

But the Labour party clearly thought that this policy, mocked by so many, was actually something it should be considering too, and has announced its own football policy. Presumably on the basis that niche Lib Dem policies are apparently a good thing for Labour to mimic, goldfish will be next.

The party wants clubs to give supporters’ trusts the power to appoint and remove up to a quarter and no fewer than two of the posts on the club’s board of directors, and buy up to 10 per cent of the shares when a club changes ownership. Like the Lib Dem motion, Labour is annoyed by the way some clubs have changed their team colours and names to satisfy markets other than their traditional supporters in this country.

It is perfectly understandable why Labour has done this: football and the way your football club behaves is probably something many voters spend more time thinking about than issues that really should be the responsibility of government. So perhaps congratulations are in order to the party for working out what bugs voters on a day-to-day basis.

But why should the success of the Premier League and the consequences of that success be anything to do with the government? And will government bossing football clubs around really improve this lucrative industry? If fans really want a club that preserves its heritage, there are plenty of less successful ones who have no international market to satisfy because though winning remains the primary objective of the game, these clubs rarely realise that objective.

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