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Eleven By Steve Fleming

Release date: 14th March, 2010
Publisher: Pitch Publishing

List Price: 5.50
Our Price: 5.39
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Eleven
By Steve Fleming
Pitch Publishing

Sportsbookofthemonth.com price: £5.39

If you've grown (or growing) tired of football's excesses, of agent's bungs, of player greed, of managers effing and blinding to camera and of the rapidly-rotting pedestal to which the modern footballer feels he has a right to bestride, then you're part of a rapidly expanding club.

What, many of us ask, went wrong with the beautiful game?

How did supporters become marginalised? Why are people who you wouldn't trust as far as you could throw them allowed to acquire our iconic football clubs? And why do governing bodies such as UEFA and the FA permit ridiculously-indebted clubs to play without sanction or a warning that they must amend their farcical financial ways?

This absurd situation has even prompted Alan Sugar to utter something useful. He advocates that 50% of the television receipts payable by broadcasters such as Sky should not simply be handed over to clubs, but should be held in trust by the FA and be used for the development of the game in all parts of the country.

It's a perfectly reasonable suggestion: after all, leading clubs currently in receipt of millions wouldn't be where they are today without all supporters attending matches for more than a century and millions of fans paying to watch games on TV for decades.

Whether the current dog's breakfast will ever be sorted out is debateable, so perhaps we must first fall out of love with football before it begins to change, otherwise things will simply continue as they are.

In the meantime, as an antidote to football's disturbing avarice, you should read Eleven, Steve Fleming's positive take on the beautiful game.

This is not to imply the man is misguided or blinkered, far from it. Fleming has collected eleven examples from all corners of the globe which show how football, truly the world's favourite game, can act as a force for good and improve the lives of the most disadvantaged.

Each of Fleming's stories provides uplifting examples of how an involvement with football can help people, be they brought down by drugs, alcohol, or even involvement with gang crime. What makes Eleven so inspiring is the way in which Fleming succeeds in showing the remarkable dedication of the people involved with the charitable organisations that endeavour to make a difference to people's lives.

These people understand how effective football can be as an engine of change and readers will inevitable applaud them.

There's no grandstanding, no surliness, no bling in this book, just a succession of genuinely heart-warming tales that will make readers want to do something too. If that means getting involved in one of the charities to which Fleming refers, fantastic. If it acts to strengthen the movement for football fans in this country to reclaim their game from the leeches and gangsters who now populate football's corridors of power, then the author would be deserving of a knighthood.


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