Museums have a considerable place in the football world, in terms of promoting history and trademarks. The history displayed at football museums, especially at club museums have often been described as being one that promotes the past highlighting successes, wins and past glories.
Discussing history only in positive terms creates and ideal image of the past commonly known as nostalgia.
Mark Bushell, at the National Football Museum in England, has written his dissertation about the UK heritage industry, nostalgia and football terrace culture, in which he aims to establish whether football supporters have developed a need for nostalgia as a result of the commercialism, globalisation, bourgeoisification and the social and economic disruptions that has affected football in recent years.
The aftermath of the three arena disasters at Bradford, Heysel and Hillsborough in the middle and late 80’s led to what is known as the Taylor report. This report recommended all-seat arenas which led to extensive refurbishments among the stadiums in the UK where more than 75% predated the First World War.
This meant huge costs, as the clubs had to pay themselves, and some clubs were forced to share home grounds.
When the FA Premier League was created in 1992, the top teams received a £304 million TV contract with British Sky Broadcasting which was the starting point for an escalating market and enormous sums of money in television revenues. The clubs have been developing in to business companies with shareholders demanding profits and with ridiculous player salaries, from the £15-20 000 a year, fifteen years ago to £30 000 a week for the top players.
Needless to say, the fans have been marginalised and have to pay a high price to be loyal to their teams. Chelsea raised the price of their season ticket almost eight times in six years and prices with other clubs have also been raised several hundred per cent (probably more now since 2000 when Bushell wrote his dissertation) and the loyal supporters are declining in attendance for corporate sponsors and wealthy fans who experience football as leisure (Bushell, 2000).
The trend is not as clear in other countries but it is apparent that the business aspect of football is rapidly increasing on the expense of the sport and all the smaller clubs. The past, for many fans and supporters does seem like a better place and the times before Heysel, Bradford and Hillsborough are remembered with affection. Football museums can indeed be argued to function as a place for nostalgia where fans and supporters can be taken back to the days of old.
- excerpt from "Football is Forever", 2006.
Note: Today, 22 years ago, the tragedy at Hillsborough struck. 15 april, 1989
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