The Government is proposing to sell off English Heritage due to concerns about its financial viability. A consultation paper into the future of the organisation proposes that from 2015 English Heritage will become a charity organisation charged with running the national heritage collection.
As you can imagine, this has signalled a wave of disapproval, with claims it is ‘privatisation by the back door’ and a chorus of promulgations about the preservation of our heritage – because once it has gone, we lose our history for future generations , and that would be a tragedy, especially in the name of profit. Culture should prevail, exceeding capitalist pursuits, should it not?
A Tale of Two Cities
Meanwhile, in Humberside a rich North African man is befuddled by news he has failed in his attempts to change the name of the local football team from boring old Hull City to the awe inspiring, exciting, linguistic roar of; Hull Tigers.
Elsewhere, in a bustling Welsh industrial city, a rich Asian man has successfully changed the uniform of the local football team from blue to red. The team had formally played in blue for many years and they were, until the time of this enforced colour change, affectionately known as the Bluebirds.
Is it too much to expect that we protect our heritage? It’s not just historians who battle to keep listed buildings or horticulturists who seek to maintain our scenic landscapes; so it should not just be Hull City or Cardiff City fans who fight to preserve their club’s heritage, nor should it be the burden of football fans alone.
Cardiff football club is 115 years old and Hull City has been proud of its name for 110 years. Sunderland (est. 1879) – my team – play in red and white, and the story goes that two men from Sunderland while working in Spain started a football team, insisting they played in red and white vertical stripes. That team was Athletic Bilbao, and yes, they still proudly don red and white stripes. Notts County (1862) are the reason Juventus wear black and white stripes, and Exeter City introduced association football to the Brazilians!
Association football clubs; their stadiums, names and jerseys are as much English heritage as castles, ship yards, mines and trains. Football clubs are part of a community’s historical identity; they have brought communities together through bad times and good, been the cause and means for towns and cities to come together and rejoice – often overcoming cultural and social differences.
The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain
Any talk of messing with this heritage is an atrocity, and the PR disasters which have beset the football club owners who try and destroy this integral part of our culture, in the name of profiteering, should be lambasted at every opportunity.
A football club is owned by the fans and the community, who will still be there long after the owners, millionaire players, managers and new found fans on some overseas market. The FA should be doing all they can to preserve this great heritage and protect it from those who want to carry out a vanity project or line their pockets at the hands of centuries of tradition.
Don’t let anyone take away our heritage. Football is ours. We are football.