Wednesday 5th December
When Uefa boss Michel Platini expressed concerns about “rampant commercialism” ruining English football, Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore scoffed that the Frenchman’s views weren’t “much above the view of people in the corner of the pub.”
Platini pointed out the “people in the pub” were precisely the ones he wanted to talk to, and promptly invited some of them over to chew the fat with him at Uefa HQ.
Football Supporters’ Federation Chairman Malcolm Clarke and Phil French of Supporters’ Direct were among delegates representing fans’ groups from right across Europe, who this week got the chance to discuss a diverse range of issues with Uefa’s top brass.
And, by all accounts, Platini’s professed concern at the paying football supporter’s current plight amounts to much more than mere platitudes.“The FSF’s International portfolio holder Kevin Miles had a meeting with Michel Platini, Uefa’s General Secretary David Taylor and all the other senior officials - and the good news is I truly believe that, as far as supporters are concerned, Platini really does get it”, Malcolm Clarke said.
“The Premier League’s Richard Scudamore suggested in the Financial Times that Platini views were like those expressed by men talking in corners of pubs – and Platini pointed out the men in the pub were precisely the ones he wanted to speak to.
“When we first arrived at Uefa HQ we told him the men from the pub had arrived to see him, and he was most amused by that – and it certainly helped break the ice.
“Along with FSF’s International portfolio holder Kevin Miles, and Phil French, from Supporters’ Direct, we discussed the pressing need to involve supporters’ groups from across Europe in Uefa’s decision making process.
“A wide range of issues – ticket prices and allocations, our Tickets For Fans Not Sponsors campaign, the selection of venues for European finals, and Safe Standing, to name but a few – were all up for discussion.
“Fans from Scotland, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain and other European nations were represented, and there is a collective realisation we can no longer deal with the many issues facing us in isolation – just as football itself has now gone global, so must the fans’ movement and there is now a real sense that together we are stronger.
“So it was an extremely encouraging meeting, one which reassured all concerned there’s now a genuine feeling at the highest possible level within Uefa that the time has arrived for supporters not only to have their say, but also to be heard.”