The Neglected North

Posted: August 9, 2015 in Opinion
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It has been a feature in many countries for many years. The great North/South divide. Usually about distribution of wealth, occasionally about principles. The first time I was made aware of it, historically at least, was the American Civil War but it stretches far and wide.

Most people will be aware of the split in England which starts, (or finishes), somewhere around Watford according to popular beliefs. Apparently it actually occurs somewhere around the Midlands, which makes more sense.

Politically, it is a divide designed to keep most of the wealth in the South and, to this aim, it has succeeded. Where it becomes distasteful is when sport is involved and you look at the lengths the sporting bodies will go to to make sure any available profit goes South.

Firstly, take the recent Ashes series. The first game was in Wales. Why? Why would ENGLAND play AUSTRALIA in the ASHES in WALES? No logic whatsoever. Apart from which, I would imagine that Cricket is well behind Rugby, Football and Choir Singing in that part of the world.

Secondly, the most northerly ground to host a test match was Trent Bridge, the rest being Glamorgan, Birmingham and TWO in London. If this isn’t Southern bias then what is?! So, Lancashire folk, who provide two players per game, don’t get a match at Old Trafford. Yorkshire folk, who provided the two best batsmen in the test at Trent Bridge, don’t get a match at Headingley, and if you live in the North East, forget it. If, however, you live in London, you get two chances to see a game. Totally unfair and whoever dreamed up this stupid schedule needs to be removed immediately and forced to take geography lessons.

The same bias applies in Football, the only difference is that it is applied all the time, as opposed to Cricket, which may redress the balance on another occasion.

If, for example, Sunderland and Newcastle United reach the FA Cup semi-final, why the heck do their fans have to travel all the way to London to watch them? Contrary to the way it is spun, they do not enjoy the day out. Northerners generally do not like London, they see it for what it is. All it means to them is that they will need somewhere in the region of £500 per person to see their teams. This is way beyond the means of many average fans in the area. Do the FA care? Not a jot. All they can see is the coffers being swelled by however much they can rip the fans off for this time.

Of course it isn’t only the cost and complete lack of geographical logic that makes these matches difficult for the fans. It is also the perceived bias towards the London clubs. Why should any team from outside London, play an FA Cup semi-final against a London club, in London? How is that fair? Who has the easier journey? The Arsenal or Chelsea fan, or the Newcastle or Sunderland fan? The chances are that the fans of Chelsea or Arsenal will outnumber their opponents purely because they are a lot nearer to the ground.

The FA chose to rebuild Wembley. During the building period, England played games around the country and it was a massively successful exercise. Why have they stopped doing it now? There are two main reasons.

The main one is the usual one, money. The budget for the new Wembley back in 2003 was £757 million. Eight years later, on completion, it had cost £975 million. They have to try and recover that additional money and make the stadium profitable. They will do so at the expense of sports fans, as usual. I guess there will be the occasional rock concert there as well but at least rock bands do tend to travel the country so all fans get a chance to see them.

The secondary reason is that the FA, and only the FA to my knowledge, think there should be a national stadium. Why? To host the occasional England game? To host the occasional cup game? Other countries manage quite nicely without a national stadium, in fact they manage a heck of a lot better than England does.

To this writer and many people living outside of London this is nothing other than Southern bias and will only perpetuate the North/South divide.

  1. MA Consultancy / WelshBiz says:

    Reblogged this on Northern Biz WordPress Blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liliane says:

    Most countries that have a national stadium will have it in the capital . The capital unlike London will be approximately in the centre of the country . London should never be the capital of England but definitely the national stadium if one is needed should be located in a fairer place than on one side of the country because it is paid by everyone North, South, East and West

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jack says:

    The point you make about the cricket is valid but using it to reinforce the ‘north-south’ divide got up by the media to promote political disaffection is anything but justfied. The legitimate concerns of the Industrial Revolution are legitimate no longer. Unfortunately coverage of English affairs has become infinitely more partial and infinitely more dishonest as the political agenda has changed with the advent of television and radio. Today [mostly foreign] politicians champion regional self-pity and feelings of resentment despite the fact that wealth is spread evenly throughout no country in the world and that Wales and Scotland, where local divisions are just as evident, are never remotely portrayed in this fashion. Coincidence this isn’t. It makes perfect sense to encourage regionalism in a country Brussels and our own politicians are determined to abolish. The English-funded BBC [I say English-funded because the corporation refuses to publish figures for contributions from other areas of ‘yoo-kay’ and doesn’t even collect the tax – it’s a tax, not a ‘fee’ – in Ulster and parts of Scotland] knows well enough what it’s about with its ‘Cornish’ nationalist webpage, it’s Yorkshire regionalism and its ‘Geordie nation’ line in sentimentality. Change of this magnitude is planned decades in advance. The time has passed when United fans were happy to accept Liverpool as League Champions because it kept the trophy in Lancashire. Fifty years of carefully feeding Liverpudlian vanity in particular made sure of that. England’s welfare as a whole concerns nobody these days it seems. I’m reminded of the remark the Times attributed to Alan Bennett after Liverpool fans spat on Eric Cantona as he climbed the stairs to collect the FA Cup in 1996: “This is what you get,” said Bennett, “when people are told too often and by too many that they are special”. Today my native land sinks beneath a tidal wave of hostile propaganda keen to encourage the petty resentments of weak, selfish people who lack the courage to be loyal; denouncing England, even demanding separation from her on spurious historical grounds, yet expecting those from whom they wish to be separated to foot the bill. England positively drowns in internationalist zeal while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are protected from any hint of it and with stories in ‘our’ race-sensitive media complaining about the all-white selection policy in sport at national level to the north and to the west of England’s border conspicuous by their absence. Why does this matter? It matters because the aim to dilute English identity and maintain her position as the upended sow she became after 1603, teats bared irresistibly to predatory neighbours with no history of a viable economy of their own, links directly to why cricket is played in Wales, why our enemies in authority arbitrarily changed the ECB to the EWCB to reflect plans to abolish the country, why Welsh football clubs play in English football, Glamorgan CCC in English cricket and why there will soon be renewed efforts to shoe-horn Celtic and Rangers into the EPL, where the money is, from those doughty defenders of national identity – ‘Iain’: Scottish spelling? – who are ‘British’ on Budget Day yet flatly refuse to contribute a single footballer to the Olympic squad. Is this really the only sensible question you can ask, one that adds fuel to a fire lit by vested interests and is little more than a distraction, when the country as whole verges on ruination and when an ‘English’ cricket swamped by Irishmen, Welshmen, South Africans and the rest stand as proof of it? They don’t ‘share the love’ round the country because they don’t consider England TO BE a country any more. Get the idea now? I wonder why you even care to be honest since you abandoned what you obviously considered to be a sinking ship to live abroad.


    • Thanks for your comments Jack. At least I seem to have found a subject about which you have some passion.
      Firstly, I think you may have over reacted slightly to my use of Cricket as one way of depicting the divide. I don’t think for one minute that it is a media ploy to promote political disaffection. I merely think they played all the games south of centre and that this was unfair. More people should have been given the opportunity to watch the England team.
      Secondly, my name is Scottish, irrespective of whether you spell it “Iain” or Ian. It is a Scottish name. The English spelling is “John”. This, however, does not alter the fact that I was born in England.
      Your other point about deserting a sinking ship is also a little wide of the mark. If that had been the case I would have left England long before I did. I would certainly have been better off leaving when Margaret Thatcher was in power, as would anybody whose bank balance was less than a few hundred thousand pounds. As it was I left in 1992 because I was offered a job in Portugal and the truth is I prefer the climate on the Iberian peninsula to that of the UK.
      Finally, “Great” Britain has been anything but for a very long time now. I agree with a lot of what you say. Britain is not a country, therefore it is almost impossible to be patriotic about the island. I am, however, as patriotic as an anti-royalist, labour voting person can be about England.
      Thanks for the comments Jack, much appreciated.


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