There’s a popular movement and hash tag which declares a hatred for modern football, surprisingly it is something like #againstmodernfootball. Whilst I agree with some of the arguments put forward by those most actively working to combat ‘modern football’, I think there is a strange romanticism about the ‘good old days’ which bears little resemblance to the truth.
What has sparked me off today (and something usually does as you know) is the arguments on social media about streaming matches live from your phone. There’s a general indignation that it has been outlawed now we are in the League, how the Gestapo EFL are trying to censor the good honest football fan, how those in exile are being punished, its us against the machine etc. You’ve read the posts.
It was a comment along the lines of ‘typical of modern football’ that made me chuckle, especially when it is made in regard to streaming games live on Facebook. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Facebook live only become a thing at the beginning of last season? The first game I tried to watch on someone’s stream was Wrexham away, and in the end I opted to listen to the BBC commentary instead. The streams are low quality, often shot in low resolution by a youth shaking due to either cold, heavy alcohol consumption or a nervous twitch.
I agree it is harsh that the BBC cannot have live commentary on the internet, that does anger me. I’m on holiday for Grimsby away, and now I will have to follow the Imps Twitter feed instead of listen to Michael Hortin and Steve Thompson, and that seems ludicrous. It isn’t their fault though,.
It’s been suggested that perhaps given the quality of the streams that they’re not hurting anyone, and the EFL need to ‘lighten up’. I suppose that is much like the film industry needed to ‘lighten up’ when Hemswell market was awash with the latest block buster VHS video tapes, filmed by some rogue on a camcorder sat at the back of a cinema. The harsh fact is football in the EFL is a licensed product, much like a film in the cinema or a show on the West End. The ‘fight for the people’ types have crept out stating it isn’t illegal to live stream, it’s not being recorded properly, they can’t do anything to stop you doing it. News flash: they can, and they will.
But who are they? Is it our much-maligned football club, now clear of controversy surrounding tickets but wading straight into the streaming row? No, they’re as culpable as those in the stands filming. It isn’t a steward’s fault if he comes and stops you streaming either, he (or she) are doing what they are paid to do. The club aren’t at fault, they’re acting upon the rules and regulations of the Football League, the entity we have been fighting to re-enter for the last six years. If you want to stream live, perhaps you should follow one of the National League clubs, although I’m pretty sure BT Sport will soon be cracking down on it as well.
Also, if you think we’re being hard done by perhaps just give Bob a call and ask how much benefit our youth system will get from money provided by the EFL, money they are able to give us through licensing of the ‘product’, our football matches. Financially we are infinitely better off in the EFL than the National League and that comes about because they sell us to the highest bidder and then spread the money where they need to. Remember, this isn’t the Premier League millions suffocating the good honest endeavour of illegal streaming, it is the EFL, arguably feeding from the top-flight crumbs themselves.
I’m afraid guys, rules are rules, and those that continue to stream do so at risk of being ejected and having any season ticket revoked. Read the terms and conditions of entry, it’s fairly clear. I’m sure Lincoln City will do everything they can to ensure no home fans get into trouble, but if you continue to live stream games you will end up in trouble. If you don’t like it, perhaps take a drive to Gainsborough Trinity where there isn’t such an issue. For anyone outside of the UK there is the iFollow, and for those savvy enough to understand VPN’s I’m sure it is an option everywhere. What you will then get is the argument of cost, and if you’re a exiled Imps begrudging paying £40 or whatever for all of the games, perhaps you don’t deserve a live feed anyway.
There’s a lot of arguing about standing up at matches too, an emotive subject that I believe the club have done really well in working around in recent years. For a decade prior to 2016 it really hasn’t been a problem whether you stood up or not, because there was plenty of space at the back of the stand and even in block 7 (pictured top). The 617 and their associates have negotiated their rights up in block 7, it took a season or two of discussions, sacrifice and diplomacy to arrive in a place where the club allowed standing. If you think that just because they do it in block 7, you can stand in front of whoever you want in block 5, you’re sadly very much out of order.
I thought being a football fan was all about the camaraderie, travelling away en mass as one united force in enemy territory. Draw, win or lose we’re only here for the booze and all that. Nowadays, it seems as if some (not all) have this sense of entitlement that states they can do as they please when they pay entry. It may not seem fair to you that block 7 stand and you can’t, but were you sat around the negotiating table back in 2013 or whenever it was, when Connor, Marcus and the rest of the lads were fighting for their cause? Or have you rocked up in the last season or two, buoyed by the success of the club and decided you just want to stand wherever you can? Have you been forced from block 7 and therefore think you still have the right to stand where you want, and (excuse my language) fuck anyone sat behind you?
Safe standing is on the agenda nation wide, and there’s no doubt the 617 and more militant fans will be fighting tooth and nail to have some included in our new stadium, something I support wholeheartedly. At this moment in time Sincil Bank is an all-seater stadium, something that came into being because of the tragedy at Hillsborough. Whilst 2017 seems a long way away from those dark days in 1989, we abide by the rules set back then because they ensure our safety. Again, it isn’t killjoy stewarding or belligerent club ownership trying to stamp out your fun, it is the rules. In truth the club have worked with the 617 to ensure there was some give and take, some meeting in the middle ground, but that does not mean any Tom, Dick or Sally can stand where they want, when they want.
I know someone who brings his 90-year old Dad to the games, should that man be made to stand up because some selfish fan in front thinks he can do as he pleases? No, of course not. You know what? I’m a broken man, my back isn’t good and at around a stone overweight my legs often aren’t prepared to support my ample frame throughout ninety minutes, especially not if fuelled by a few pints of the amber nectar. If I have paid for a seat, the same seat I’ve had now for six months, why should I not be able to sit in it and watch the game, just because someone feels they want to stand? Standing at the moment is not an option, block 7 fought hard for the right to do it, but if people persist in arguing ‘they do it in block 7 so why can’t I?’ where do you think the club will go? Do you think they’ll let everyone stand as they want and risk trouble from the FA, or do you think you’ll ruin it for those in block 7 that have scrapped and fought for their place?
Standing on the terraces in the 1980’s was not great, and I only remember the tail end of that decade. There is nothing romantic about those days, nothing that so-called modern football has ruined. Almost every away end was uncovered, kids (such as I) couldn’t see a damn thing for ninety minutes because everyone was stood up. Atmosphere? Yeah, right. The 1980’s were not supporter friendly, the atmosphere were often just as muted and stifled as they were up to 2016 at the Bank. Supporter numbers were down, facilities were awful and frankly it wasn’t a nice place to be. Toilets were more often than not a gutter behind the stands, and the threat of violence was always hanging in the air. Sure the old-school hooligans might reminisce about getting a couple of punches in on a cod head before four of them piled in, but for me that isn’t football. Genuinely my worst experience at a match was Grimsby away in 2007 because that night it was like the 1980’s. Police on horseback, ominous threats, outbreaks of sporadic violence, and constant war between stewards, police and fans.
I’m with those who agree football should not be sanitised completely, but you know why I think support dipped in the 1990s? Football stadiums became unhealthy places to be, full of fag smoke, racism and people punching each other. The young fans went, but not in the same numbers as today. The legacy wasn’t being built because parents didn’t pass supporting a football club on to their kids, it was too dangerous. In the 1980’s it was less dangerous to play football on the M25 at rush hour than it was attend a Lincoln and Grimsby game, and for that reason the kids of the 1980’s didn’t turn into fans of the 1990’s, not in large numbers anyway. The longevity of our football club is held by the kids in the city we see wearing Imps tops instead of Man Utd or Liverpool, and for them to keep coming and growing there has to be some control in the stands.
Until we officially have safe standing, our club and the 617 have come up with a compromise, one that I feel is threatened by the sense of entitlement other people have. Yes, it is frustrating that lower 7 is kept empty, but again there are regulations stipulating it must be kept so. I appreciate when we have the Stacey West it seems counter productive, but when Grimsby, Notts County or Coventry roll into town it is vital and compulsory. Besides, nobody has agreed that lower 7 is standing, and you won’t be able to just turn up and stand there. The 617 didn’t do that with the upper 7, it took negotiations and compromise. Don’t go ruining all of that just because you think you can do what you want.
We might be Lincoln City, and you might think we do what we want, but that attitude isn’t fair on every paying fan, and every single person who pays on the gate is just as entitled to a good match day experience as the next person. Some people prefer to sit, some people prefer to study the game, watch everything and enjoy it as a spectacle. Others want to get tanked up and bounce and sing, and that is fine too. The key is making sure you respect other people’s decisions. You may well find the concept of sitting down all game baffling, but there will be other, less aggressive fans, who find the concept of getting smashed and arguing with stewards just as absurd. If safe standing does come into force, I wouldn’t expect to be able to sit in the middle of it and force others to sit down. I wouldn’t expect to sit in block 7 now and be quiet trying to study the game, so please, don’t think that you’re entitled to stand up in block 5 and do what you want. You’re not, it’s ignorant and as Lincoln fans I’d like to think we’re better than that.