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LETTERS – Football fans deserve better than the ‘German’ model

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Issue 2752
RB Leipzig fans say it gives you wingers
RB Leipzig fans say it gives you wingers (Pic:

The European Super League (ESL) scandal has shown how capitalism affects every aspect of our lives.

Against the wishes of most fans, the owners of six English clubs joined this money-making venture.

If they had been successful, the ESL would have had a significant impact on the leisure time of the hundreds of thousands of working class people who go to matches.

Some are now calling for a “German” model, where fans own 50 percent of the club plus one.

Extra fan control means that match tickets here are much more affordable.

It also probably added to the reluctance of German clubs to back the ESL.

And yet German football is not some socialist bubble, free of the capitalist drive for profit.

The super-rich Bayern Munich has won every single league title since 2012. In this eight-year period, it also won the German cup five times.

When Bayern boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge opposed the ESL because it endangered “excitement and the emotional experience in the competition” many Germans permitted themselves a wry smile.

The inequalities in German football are maybe most clear in the former East Germany.

Following reunification, football was no different to most other industries.

Wealthy Western clubs systematically robbed clubs in the East of almost all their best players.

There is one exception to this trend. RB Leipzig was formed in the East German city in 2009 and came second in the league ten years later.

What does RB stand for? Red Bull. The team—which is hated throughout Germany—was set up as a commercial venture by the soft drinks company.

German fans rightly defend the gains which have been made here. But—in football as in life—we are a long way from achieving equality.

The fight goes on.

Phil Butland, Berlin

Ways to kill the bill

Despite several large “political” strikes, the “Kill the Bill” campaign in 1971 (Socialist Worker, 14 April) failed to stop the Industrial Relations Bill. But official and unofficial resistance made the Act unworkable.

The Act’s success depended on unions being registered. It was therefore essential that unions came off the register, despite making them liable to greater legal penalties.

The TUC majority initially voted to “advise” unions not to register.

With the militant engineering union leading the way, this was overturned, in September 1971, to “instruct” unions.

“Non-cooperation” with the Act’s other institutions included boycotting the new National Industrial Relations Court.

Dockers were engaged in an unofficial militant campaign to defend jobs.

Liverpool, Hull and London dockers refused to attend the new court to answer for breaking the new law. Their stand made it more difficult for unions to recognise the court.

The incarceration of the Pentonville Five for “contempt of court” was critical. Faced with an unofficial national dock strike and growing strikes elsewhere, legal manoeuvring “sprang” the five. The jailing also shocked several big right wing unions into leaving the Act’s provisional register.

The combination of unofficial and official resistance pushed the Act into cold storage.

Dave Lyddon, Keele

Permanent home work will help out the bosses

In many sectors, employers are seeking to establish the home-based work of the pandemic as the norm longer term.

The move essentially privatises all of the risks and costs of working, turning the worker’s home into the workplace.

Often employers talk about the benefits of flexible working. However, it is not flexible working that is being offered.

Good quality flexible working policies, benefiting those with caring responsibilities and disabled workers, should be negotiated and fought for by trade unions.

Home-based working, however, will lead to worker-isolation, more intensive management bullying, contract erosion, more bogus self‑employment, and weakened union organisation. Workers’ power is in the physical workplace, not online.

Socialists should oppose home-working wherever employers are attempting to make it permanent beyond the Covid-19 crisis.

Mark O’Brien, Merseyside

Times ‘gaffe’ reflects institutional racism

How dare Christina Lamb accuse me of racism? Although, of course, the “we” that she refers to may be confined to the readership of the Sunday Times.

In reference to the racist “gaffes” of prince Philip, Lamb said that “secretly we rather enjoyed them”.

Racism must absolutely never be tolerated or dismissed.

I am writing this on the 28th anniversary of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence.

A murder that was not properly investigated due to institutional racism of the police.

Lamb’s statement, trivialising racism, was put on the front page of The Sunday Times, pillar of the British establishment.

It illustrates that Britain is indeed still institutionally racist, no matter what the Sewell Report might have purported.

The normalisation of racist comments by The Sunday Times requires not only an apology but a full retraction by Christina Lamb and the newspaper.

The editor’s comments that Lamb “never intended to make light of” Prince Philip’s racist remark about “slitty eyes” are nowhere near enough.

Jean Evanson, Telford

Socialist solidarity from India

We are doing research in the field of cultural studies, language, and literature. We have received the communication about Marxism 2021 as we regularly read the SWP publications.

We are really looking forward to this event as it would give us a chance to listen to intellectuals and activists from all over the world.

We will also be encouraging other students from our university to book for it. Dr Kuldip Singh is guiding us as he introduced us to the SWP.

He has talked about Marxism Festival many times before which he himself attended 20 years ago. 

Deepinder kaur, Atinder pandey Punjabi Univesity Patiala, Punjab, India

Tunnel must be stopped

The proposed Silvertown Tunnel is a £2 billion, four‑lane road crossing in Newham.

The monstrous pollution-heavy project flies in the face of the Greater London Authority vision to be carbon neutral by 2030.

Research shows that new roads pave the way for more traffic.

Why has Labour mayor Sadiq Khan given in to big business against the interests of vulnerable communities?

Challenge Khan at every mayoral election event and watch out for coming actions to Stop the Silvertown Tunnel!

Miriam Scharf, East London

Lesson from British Gas

All the unions should have worked together instead of looking after themselves.

Carl Walker, On Facebook

Back Plaid in South Wales?

I suspect you would ask people to vote tactically to stop the Tories (Who should socialists vote for, 21 April).

As most of the constituencies will be won by Labour, voting for them in the list is a wasted vote, especially in South Wales.

It makes more sense to vote Plaid.

Rhodri Frances, On Facebook

We’ve been here before

There is a direct connection between the police bill and the Sewell report.

The Tories want the law changed to counter potential uprisings but also the ideology that underpins that opposition.

The extensive anti-union laws of the early Thatcher years were accompanied by continual attacks on us.

So successful was it, that after a while the word socialism was never heard.

They never give up as our continued exploitation depends on them winning the battle of ideas.

Alan Watts, South London


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