Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ipswich Town Enter the Dragon's Den

The news that Ipswich Town has been sold off to one very rich capitalist, Marcus Evans, deserves some comment. Granted, there are probably more important things for Marxist bloggers to be writing about (the growing anger of US and UK troops sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, Gordon Brown's clampdown on migrant workers, the march of India's landless on Dehli etc etc) but this site never pretended to be Lenin's Tomb...

Anyway, Ipswich Town FC, who are currently 4th in 'the Championship' (the old 'second division' of English football) have been taken over by a guy who according to his website owns a company which hosts conferences for, among other people, arms manufacturers:

'The marcus evans Defense division is a leader in strategic and innovative forums utilized by the world’s most influential defense officials. Our elite events attract high-quality speakers composed of allied militaries and defense related industry. Through strong governmental relationships, marcus evans Defense maintains the highest standards of quality and service in research, technology and product development. This commitment to service and quality is the basis for our reputation as the world's leading provider of unique and informative events.'

Who could be more suitable to own a provincial football club in rural Suffolk than someone who helps organises conferences on 'Delivering Critical and Actionable Information to Assess, Prevent and Respond to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Events' and 'ELECTRONIC WARFARE: Enhancing Warfighter Capabilities Through Technology' I hear you ask...

As the current Chairman, David Sheepshanks, notes 'Marcus Evans' investment is potentially great news for Ipswich Town.' Sheepshanks's assessment seems to me to be appropriate. It is potentially good news for the club in terms of boosting its chances of promotion into the Premiership and then perhaps more critically, the chances of us staying in the Premiership should we qualify.

Indeed, given football is now big business, arguably such takeovers are a fact of life and should be recognised as such even by Marxists. Capitalism is a system based on competition and the drive for profit and this leads to what Marx called 'the concentration and centralisation of capital'. Obviously in the football business, the drive for profits is masked by the fact that in sport, anything can happen on the pitch and indeed one joy of the thing is when a small underdog triumphs over a mighty team full of expensive players. Yet these things have a way of playing out over the course of a season and success on the pitch is in part related to how much a team has to spend on players. Nor should we romanticise the old set up of football ownership just because clubs like Ipswich were once owned by local gentleman capitalists rather than the boss of a multinational corporation. I wrote something about supermarkets on this blog last year in a similar vein here.

Yet if it is pointless pretending Ipswich Town Football Club was once a rural peasant commune, there are clear and present dangers in handing control of a football club over to one rich individual. They will want a quick return on their money, and in general football fans, because loyalty to the brand of a football club is often based on emotion and tribal instincts rather than rationality, are perhaps easier to exploit in this regard by unscrupulous owners than the average consumer. [Obviously while Ipswich Town supporters have an emotional attachment for the club their decision to support Ipswich as opposed to say, Norwich, is also a decision rooted in rationality] It is too early to make a call on Ipswich's future, but it may well mean job cuts at the club, and a situation where managers (and players) are given less time to impress before being told where to go while fans face ticket price rises etc etc. Ipswich Town has entered the Dragon's Den as it were...

Speaking of 'Enter the Dragon', wasn't Bruce Lee a legend? I watched the film 'Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story' a week ago - and now I want to know more about Lee's interest in Hegel - if any readers have any thoughts about Lee's Hegelianism or more info that would be grand...



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