on 3 January 2001
The Hillsborough disaster is often talked of in terms of human loss. Sickeningly, all too frequently it has become the vehicle for huge corporate gain.
David Conn's financial analysis of the English game at the end of the 20th century is a powerful inditement of the way that the money-men hijacked the recommendations of the Taylor Report in order to line their own pockets.
Conn is an author who understands his subject matter. More importantly, he is a writer who is able to engage with it, and who feels passionately about it. His writing conveys a powerful sense of injustice at the betrayal of ordinary supporters by successive governments, by the Football Association and the Football League, by the clubs, and by those who suppose to speak for the fans. It forces the reader, whether or not he has a political agenda, and whether or not he has a vested emotional or financial interest in the game, to sit up and take stock of the nature of English football today.
'The Football Business' is a hugely impressive piece of writing. Through anecdote, through interviews with individuals at all levels of the game, and through a highly personalised analysis of the bare facts, Conn makes, substantiates, restates, and enlivens his material.
The near narrative form of the text ensures that the reader does not become lost in a quasi-socialist missive, but it never becomes too colloquial to deny it legitimacy as a serious and often damning book. 'The Football Business' seamlessly combines sociology, corporatism, sport, and politics to produce a thoughtful and engaging text that cannot fail to impress.