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72 Unite 28/10/2011

Posted by Ian Grant in Thoughts about things.

Protest group ‘The 72 Unite’ has come together to fight the recent EPPP proposal for restructuring youth academies, something that could have extremely serious long-term consequences for Watford and countless other clubs dependent on bringing through young talent.

The group is organising a boycott of the first five minutes of Football League matches tomorrow, which has been backed by the Rookery’s Yellow Order who are meeting outside the Red Lion from half past two. A supporters’ group with a wider political agenda at Watford? Blimey, there’ll be singing next. Good on ’em, I reckon.

I have no time to put forward a detailed argument about it all…but suffice to say that this is much, much more important than why Dale Bennett’s gone on loan to Brentford or whether Matty Whichelow will make it onto the bench against Peterborough. This is the issue confronting football clubs outside the Premiership right now, a potential watershed moment for us all…but equally, an opportunity to unite in setting out a different, more positive agenda for the future.

I don’t want to watch a club that’s just a nursery for Premiership youngsters. You…?

More info: http://the72unite.co.uk/


1. Sequel - 28/10/2011

Nothing should surprise us any more about the trough-snuffling swine who run the PL. I’m deeply saddened by the implications this will have for the rest of us. The next Ashley Young will most likely be tempted away for a mere 100k compensation. That should keep the academy running for a week or two, eh?
One concern about the protest, is that, potentially, thousands of fans will be trying to get into football grounds at once, with games already in progress. A tad dangerous, perhaps?

Ian Grant - 28/10/2011

The compensation issue is almost secondary, to my mind. It’ll hit home first, of course…but what’ll really change the landscape is the ability of the richest clubs to set up Category 1 super-academies which can a) pick players at an earlier age, b) offer them more intensive coaching and c) give them a chance of first-team football at a nursery club lower down the leagues when the time is right. In those circumstances, there’s every chance that the next Ashley Young won’t be anywhere near Watford until he’s nineteen and needs some loan experience…

2. JohnF - 29/10/2011

What is even greater as a concern is that the Football League clubs voted so heavily to accept this for basically £5 million a year between them. That really shows how bad the financial state of the League is. I’m strongly in favour of trying to do something but this has the feel of cutting off your nose to spite your face. I can’t see away fans being interested and our team has low enough morale and confidence. Helping us to drop a division will not do anything for the academies. What would be much better is to have banners etc for the television cameras. However, the peole who should be doing something are the FA and we know they are not interested in any football below the PL. It all depends. We know that Arsenal and some others will fill their academies with foreign youngsters and the record of clubs like Chelsea bringing youngsters through to the first team is abysmal.

Ian Grant - 29/10/2011

I appreciate what you say, John…but after being involved in various causes over the years, if I had a quid for every person who’d responded to a potential protest with a sentence starting along the lines of “I’m strongly in favour of trying to do something but…” or “the people who should be doing something are…”, I’d have enough cash to finance our academy myself.

JohnF - 30/10/2011

Ian, I know what you are saying but a protest is only any good if has impact this would only have impact if properly and fully coordinated which takes time. I plan to do some lobbying of MPs and the like now that they are getting really concerned about the governance of football.

Ian Grant - 30/10/2011

Good stuff, John. I don’t think anyone regarded the weekend’s activities as the be-all and end-all, merely the first step in attempts to raise awareness – which is pitiful, frankly – among Football League supporters about the impact this will have on their clubs’ futures. Is it a battle that can be won? I’ve no idea. Is it a battle worth fighting? Abso-bluddy-lutely.

3. Nick - 29/10/2011

I saw the protest today as i got to the ground just before 3 and it looked like a bunch of 13 year olds receiving very little attention.

The cause is a good one but people were never going to not watch the game for it especially as the yellow order have such little credibility to set something like this up.

The clubs have to be willing to stand up for themselves and as the vote shows they clearly aren’t.

Ian Grant - 30/10/2011

Oh look, another “the cause is a good one but…” message….

Easy to criticise those prepared to stand up and be counted, Nick. Easy to say that someone else should look after our interests (and they are OUR interests…the people running the club will be long gone by the time the full impact of these changes is felt) too. Just imagine if all of those people actually bloody DID something rather than commenting wisely from the sidelines….

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