Err, yes, you’re right

English football’s axis of power has shifted south – where the wealth is
Anthony Clavane
The relegation of Hull, Middlesbrough and Sunderland, teams from former industrial powerhouse cities, reflects the country’s growing economic divide

And the reason the North was the centre of football (well, plus the Midlands and London) is because that’s where all the wealth was when it became a popular and organised sport.

It’s entirely correct to say that there’s been a regional divide these past 300 years in England (at least). But for the first 150 years the South, especially the South West, was on the wrong end of it.

One example – forgotten the decade as it was some time ago I read about it but probably 1830s, 1840s ish – farm labourer wages were 25 shillings a week up North, no rent to pay on the veg patch and potato field etc. Same time, rent to be paid and 8 shillings a week in Dorset. The North had to compete with the alternative jobs in the factories, Dorset was, even by the standards of the time, grossly poor.

16 comments on “Err, yes, you’re right

  1. Not another Thatcher rant. I thought the City of Culture tag presaged a renaissance of local fortunes?

  2. London has a population of 9.8m and 5 top flight clubs (6 if you count Watford). NW England has 7.1m and 5 (or to break it down further: Manchester, 2.6m and 2; Liverpool, 0.86m and 2; Burnley, 0.073m and 1).

    Is this greater representation per head of population a signifier of the greater economic performance of the NW than London? If not, I wouldn’t read too much into the relegation of Hull, ‘boro and the Mackems. Or the promotion of Newcastle.

  3. This is after timing. I would respect the writer if he had reasoned last August to get on a London club to win the EPL at evens, and to back Middlesbrough to be relegated at 2/1 ( or whatever the odds were at the time ).
    Here’s my prediction with reasons – next time the unemployment numbers come out, London’s will have risen over and above the national rate. Why? Greater London is heavily subsidised ( higher benefit cap for example ), and highest social housing entitlements in cash terms, so people won’t migrate out to where jobs are created.

  4. Dorset is more about retired wealth than high earnings. Local earnings were boosted around the 1980s when defence R&D grew in the area, but I don’t know if that’s still the case. Otherwise though, it’s a wealthy place rather than a highly-productive place.

  5. If things are so bad how come those clubs got in to the Premiership in the first place?

    Anyway those 3 clubs have a history of going up and down, sometimes right down, it’s just the cycle of 2nd and 3rd tier clubs.

  6. The Guardian – see one data point, then imagine an elaborate political trend from it.

    Mysteriously he doesn’t explain where the wealth was in ‘The North’ just a few short years ago when teams like Blackpool, Wigan, Hull, Newcastle et all were in the Premier League and Watford, Bournemouth etc weren’t.

    Seems to have been a fairly rapid transfer of wealth in the past few years.

  7. Presumably local wealth matters less than ever for top flight football, unless you’re looking for a local sugar daddy to “invest” in the club and haven’t managed to find an overseas one. Gate receipts and sales of merchandise would depend on the local economy, but are dwarfed by TV rights which are determined on a global basis.

  8. “teams like Blackpool, Wigan, Hull, Newcastle et all were in the Premier League and Watford, Bournemouth etc weren’t.”

    I understand that Bournemouth has a sugar daddy. With gates of 11,000 it presumably needs one. It’s all very well saying that gate receipts matter less than they used to, but 11,000!

    And remember that nowadays the home team keeps all the gate money; clubs no longer get a (purported) half the gate money when they play away in a big stadium.

  9. MyBurningEars has it, to a point.

    The two biggest brands in English football are Liverpool and Manchester Utd. These are the club’s that attract the worldwide social and commercial interest. This does suggest thst location isn’t the most importsnt thing. Liverpool FC in particular sits atop a small provincial city in the way Microsoft and Nike are placed in Seattle and Portland.

    The analogy falls, however, when looking at the economics of building stadia. Manchester Utd no longer always fill their ground and struggle sometimes to fill their expensive corporate areas. Liverpool is seriously considering not increasing its capacity any further than it is. This is not because it wom’t fill the stadium; it would do that very easily. It cannot, however, fill it’s corporate arwas. And without that any expensive would be at best self-financing but would certainly never genre any new net revenues. By contrast Tottenham Hotspur FC has no worries about building a brand new state-of-art 60k arena.

  10. Oh yes. When cimparted with London, Paris, Milan, Madrid, even Manchester. The only thing that’s big in Liverpool is the gob of the average local.

  11. “The only thing that’s big in Liverpool is the gob of the average local.”

    And his hub cap collection.

  12. Hull promoted to EPL in 2008 having languished in Div III for a while.
    Sunderland promoted in 2007 to EPL having fallen to the DIv III in 1995.
    Middlesbrough promoted in 2016 spent 2009-2016 in Championship and in and out in the previous 17 years.

    This article is weird and ahistorical.

  13. Football is cyclic. Some teams are up and down like a bride’s nightie.

    On the other hand,some of us fans are waiting for their team to have an up and hopefully replace those smaller Prem teams who hang on (but accepting it is usually easier to cling once you’re there}

  14. @ ken
    When I was young, Sunderland was nicknamed “the Bank of England team” because it could afford to pay higher transfer fees than the likes of Arsenal or Spurs and was the only club that had stayed in the First Division of the Football League since the League was founded, Newcastle United had won the FA Cup more times than any other club except Aston Villa which tied with it, Bishop Auckland had won the FA Amateur Cup more often than any other club, Middlesbrough was continually just missing out on promotion to the top flight (usually 3rd or 4th) …
    Arsenal joined the Football League in 1893 in the second division, Chelsea followed in 1905.
    Tim’s history stands up to reasonable scrutiny.

  15. MyBurningEars,

    “Presumably local wealth matters less than ever for top flight football, unless you’re looking for a local sugar daddy to “invest” in the club and haven’t managed to find an overseas one. Gate receipts and sales of merchandise would depend on the local economy, but are dwarfed by TV rights which are determined on a global basis.”

    When people cheer “come on City”, they should really be cheering “Come on Khaldoon Al Mubarak”. That’s the only reason they’re the top club. Some Arab bought them and pumped money in.

    I do wonder if there’s a point soon when the reality of football is going to overshadow the romanticism. I get it when people are supporting Rushden and Diamonds or Forest Green Rovers. Many of the team come from nearby, you’re probably 2 degrees of separation from them, but supporting a club owned by a Russian in another city with players from all four corners of the globe? Is it just all fake masculinity now? You might as well be cheering on the price of tin mining stocks.

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