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Thursday 29th
posted by Morning Star in Sport

Dan Fieldsend looks at how the Labour leader can use the issues plaguing the sport he loves to widen his appeal among the British public

The people of Merseyside were appreciative of Jeremy Corbyn this week as he took the time to extend condolences to Howard Kendall’s family for their great loss.

It was a kind gesture from a true football fan, a man who in his 32 years in Parliament has never passed up an opportunity to congratulate his team, Arsenal, on any silverware achieved.

Being a football man may be seen as a personal strong suit for Corbyn as he approaches his task of unifying disenfranchised potential voters before 2020.

Said potential voters have drifted towards the SNP, Ukip and the Greens — a large portion have also consciously chosen to be classified as non-voters.

These sections of society are united by two common threads: a distaste for the evils of Conservatism and a passion for football.

Almost unbelievably previous election campaigns from all parties have all but neglected to tap in to the power of the football community.

The game is the highest form of consciousness in our society, taking prominence over media and common discussion.

Corbyn must realise that to be associated with football inspired tete-a-tete will be enough for many soft voters — that a politician running for leadership recognises the contemporary plight of the working-class football fan will win him support.

Conveniently for Corbyn, movements are already in place that challenge the top-heavy structure of football, such as the “20’s plenty” campaign that seeks to resist the cost of spectatorship at all levels of the English game and the “Save Grassroots Football” movement that calls for the Premier League and its clubs to invest finances into junior football.

One can conclude that Corbyn is as vexed by the capitalistic nature of the modern game as his potential voters, especially if we consider that at his beloved Arsenal the cost of a season ticket, as highlighted in the recent Cost of Football report by the BBC, can set a hard worker back £2,000.

For that sum of money one could buy a season ticket at Barcelona (£73.88), Bayern Munich (£104.48), AC Milan (£156.72), Real Madrid (£166.42), Paris St Germain (£313.44) and Juventus (£320.90) and still have over £800 spare.

A class and generation of football fans have been priced out of regular football consumption, having to flock instead ritualistically to their local ale houses for a self-created match-day experience.

It is here in these clubs and pubs that Corbyn has to be seen as a champion of the people — priced out of both society and football — if he hopes to reunite the nation.