Certain institutions have an almighty say in the running of football these days. Television. Sponsors. The Police.
Certain institutions have an almighty say in the running of football these days. Television. Sponsors. The Police. We all have our opinions of them, whether it's annoyance, acceptance or gratitude. But where would we be without them?
Growing up in the mid-1980s, you'd wonder if any of them existed at all. You'd be lucky to get a handful of club games on the telly, in the days of 4 channels, pre-Sky. They'd be the FA Cup final, maybe the European cup final, and the odd league game. Division One was sponsored by Canon, then Barclays. So anonymous that they'd need to provide an extra trophy so that anyone would notice. Policing was a big talking point, but by some of the issues going on, in and out of the ground, you'd barely notice they existed, other than to protect the dignity of those who had a sudden compulsion to take their clothes off...
A bobby's helmet saves the day again
These days it's different. A match can't go ahead without Police say-so. Kick-off times are moved to reduce the risk of disorder. Match days are moved to prevent rival clubs clashing. In 2010, a match between Chester and Wrexham was postponed due to Chester's inability to pay for the costs of the Police.
English football is seen as a world leader in public order Policing, the giant strides taken have made a football stadium (and surroundings) a much safer place to be. Legislation, money and a willingness to change were required, but nowadays, you'd be hard pressed to find trouble. Even if you do find it, a swathe of CCTV and evidence gathering will go a long way to sorting you out. Plus, a halo of yellow jackets will find you.
Welcome to London
So next time you think that you'd rather be thrown in a cage during a match in order to 'sort it out like men', be grateful that coppers today are more Sam Tyler than Gene Hunt...