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on 15 March 2002
A very good book, written in a very accessible style. The case studies which the book begins with, looking at how individual clubs have change over the past century are very interesting, especially if you happen to be a fan of one of the clubs in question. However the best part of the book is surely the chapter on Hillsborough, which will shock and sicken even the most hardened football fan. This book is a real eye opener which will make you fear for the future of the game, especially at the grass roots. Sometimes a little too emotional and therefore not as objective, but this merely adds to the feeling that the game has changed for the worse over the last 10-15 years. If you don't know what the inside of a football ground looks like, and enjoy watching all your games interactively on Sky, whilst wearing your replica shirt and chugging on a few Carlings, you may disagree with the sentiments behind this book, but if you have a real interest in football at all levels I highly recommend it.
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on 2 November 1998
An excellent puplication which blows the top off the whole of the (Premier League) football scene. Obviously written from a non-right wing perspective, it still addresses the main points that has seen the English game disintegrate into one of the 'haves' and 'have-nots', and exposes many of the reasons why so many clubs have lurched head first towards their clubs being listed on the stock markets. The chapter on the F.A. and their complete ineptitude in controlling the position that emerged throughout the late eighties and early nineties, is excellent. If I have any criticism, it is that the author has a tendency towards some repetition in parts, although perhaps this only helps to underline that this book is written from his own perspective; clearly one where he feels that football is not the fair game it maybe once was, a long long time ago.
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on 6 September 1999
David Conn has written a book that should be a must for all who are interested in football. He clearly yearns for the days where football was run for the benefit of football rather than for the PLC, and the case he states is pursuasive to say the least. Depending on your political pursuasion some readers may feel uncomfortable with his full attack on the evils of market forces, but his case is really based on the fact that football should be something which should be available for all. Regardless of how it may appear, this book is not anti-Premier League, anti-FA or anti-anything - it is in my view a well-written, well-researched and impressive appeal for us all to protect the game we love. Please read it (and no - I am not related to the author)!
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on 18 July 2012
As an aspiring football journalist looking for inspiration, I always read David Conn's articles in The Guardian with great interest. I find him to be exceedingly honest about the state of the modern game, and I usually end up agreeing with most of his opinions (regardless of whether I did before or not!).

A while ago, I discovered that he had written two books - this one and "The Beautiful Game?: Searching for the Soul of Football". I finally managed to get hold of a copy of The Football Business earlier this year and from the moment I opened the cover, I could not put it down. Although it was written 15 years ago (republished in 2001), it remains as true today as it was back then: for example, just as Alan Shearer, on joining his boyhood club Newcastle, made his words sound like they were from a prepared script, media-savvy players today spout the same old rhetoric about how there are no easy games and it's all about the team performance, having to hide their own personal feelings lest they be castigated for being too self-obsessed; or the trend of club owners viewing their acquisitions as mere profit-generating vehicles, rather than investing as a way of giving something back to the community they had grown up in - there is no sign of that now, with owners coming from as far afield as Russia, the United States and Malaysia.

This book highlights many of the inconvenient truths that the media refuse to acknowledge about modern-day football, truths that we really should be tackling for the benefit of football in the long-term. If we do not, we face a future with only one super-rich professional league, while local clubs can barely afford to rent a pitch every Saturday afternoon.

For an honest look at football, perhaps less shocking than you would care to admit, you must read this book.
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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.
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on 26 September 2003
A real eyeopener into the world of football beyond 22 men on a grass pitch.
The book looks at the aspects of the game which have caused it to go into serious decline ... largely to the ignorance of football fans throughout Britain.
It begins with case studies into various clubs and the takeovers and/or stock market flotations. The turning of football clubs " ... into money making machines".
Read these case studies to discover how various club chairmen have made fortunes from the game far beyond the wildest dreams of most 'punters'.
Read about how the lowet level grass roots of the game is dying due to the greed and politics of those at the top.
Read how a century old institution - the FA - turned on its own beliefs and morals to help the big guns breakaway and form what we know now as the Premiership.
Read how the big clubs took advantage of the Taylor Report to line their own pockets.
Read an account of the Hillsborough disaster and the everlasting effect it has had on the families of the victims and also the extent to which it (along with the Tayor report) essentially changed the face of football.
Even the most hardened football fan will surely feel anger when reading the Hillsborough chapter.
If you havent considered before how finances in football really operate and the true extent to exactly how the 'rich get richer and the poor get poorer' then you must read this book!
As an Accountancy student, i read this book as a basis for a dissertation i was writing based on football finances and it was extremley helpful. It literally changed my outlook on the world of football.
The beautiful game ..... i always thought so ... i dont now!
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on 4 January 2000
As a University student i used this book for a project of football and buisness. The book is very true and reflection the sorry state that the lower league clubs are in. Anyone who has anything to do with a Nationwide League club will be able to tell you that the book is unfortunately the sorry truth of the game. In a time were the National game has so much money at top level, other clubs in the Nationwide league have to struckel. David Conn shows the true reflections of Premiership clubs, which are dominated by greed and fat cat's. Anyone should read this book, and relise that the game isn't all it is made out to be.
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on 15 February 2005
I bought this book when it was first published. It is written in an easy Sunday paper editorial style and bobs along with lot's oooh's and aaahhhs' until you arrive at the Hillsborough part. Not once I have managed to get through that chapter without having to choke back the tears. Not always successfully.
A beautiful excoriating essay on the sale and lease back of our game
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on 23 December 1999
An abosolute must to every football fan, regardless of your team allegiance. The author does not try to force a view upon you, but he does get his views across. The book is fact! Its well written and absorbing and may well open your eyes to 'football business'.
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on 30 September 2013
Although over 10 years old, this book is a great guide to how money and finance came to dominate the Premier League. And how the old fans were pushed out. All of us who used to stand on the Terraces for 50p as children can look back on a vanished world.
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