I apologize to people who don’t follow football and come here expecting to read about tech and other such issues, but as well as tech and science fiction literature, I have another passion – football.

mike-amos
Mike Amos – much respected chairman of the Northern League is sadly retiring this season.   A major loss to the Northern League and also asks the question, what happens under the new management?   Image source: Chroniclelive.co.uk

It is no secret that non-league is gaining in popularity as people realize the great displays of football are not only played out on a pitch close to them, but at a price that is reasonable and run by people who are not seeking to exploit them as part of a multi-million pound business plan.  Every week I see hundreds of people walk through our gates (and the gates of other teams) buying a pie and settling in to watch a fantastic display of football.

As always the government is one step behind with this change in attitude concerning the game.  That’s why when you go to a non-league ground you are not subject to a potential search or monitored by some faceless person on a CCTV camera.  There are no “spotters” or other agencies with trendy names knocking about in the crowd.   Perhaps this is one of the appeals of the non-league game, where fans can watch football rather than experiencing new methods in invasion of privacy.

But this could all change, once the related agencies finally realize where people are going, you can be sure they are going to start sniffing around.  Already at some of the games where the attendance figures challenge that of some teams in the National league (I’m thinking South/North Shields matches here), you are already starting to see a dotting of high visibility jackets and silly hats within the stands.

It then comes as a concern to me that its suggested the Northern League is going to be run by a recently retired high ranking police officer when Mike Amos hands over the reigns.

I am a huge supporter of Mike Amos, the current chairman of the Northern League.  He has, in my opinion, made great improvements to the league, whilst at the same time having an inexhaustible enthusiasm, getting involved at all levels.  I shudder to think of how many hours he puts in every week and that’s not even considering his gruelling “last legs” sponsored charity walk, that when I accompanied him on the Seaham leg of the tour, I needed 3 days to recover.

But all good things come to an end and when he takes his well deserved retirement, its suggested that the ex-high ranking police officer takes over.  I don’t know if there is more than one potential candidate for the role, nor do I know if it had been put to the public vote who the general supporter would have voted for.

I should say that I know nothing of this potential candidate for chairman of the Northern League, above that of well worded PR on various sites which I take with pinch of proverbial salt.  What concerns me is that this retired officer is likely to have friends who are still in the upper echelons of power and I think its reasonable to consider that these friends could seek to use the connection to the Northern League to introduce all sorts of “great” new policing schemes having the Northern League as a test-bed for what they consider to be the “bigger fish” – most notably the Premier League.  Football policing is as big an issue as the games themselves and just imagine the kudos for a high ranking officer who tests one of their schemes in the Northern League and it gets implemented at a national level in the corporate world of the Premier League.

Policing teams with names such as “Safer Stadium Teams” spring to mind as the police and government like to brand tasks under names that give the impression there is some sort of specialization to them.  The trials of this I suggest could quite easily be tested with a partnership of the potential new chairman and his chums.  Think this is scaremongering or paranoia?  Well the government is allowed to convince you of the bogey man in almost every facet of your life, so I feel justified merely giving you an opinion and a suggestion that we should maybe consider the implications of what this new chairman could mean.  I’m also actively looking for the would be chairman’s connection to the Northern League prior to the appointment.  Has he been helping behind the scene’s in the Northern League for years?  Has he been on the board/committee of a North League club?  Has he even been a season ticket holder for any club?  As it stands, I can find no such information and it appears to me that his Northern League background will start if it takes the role.  Surely there are other candidates?  I can think of many people from many Northern League clubs who have been with their respective clubs all their lives, have formidable knowledge and experience of the league and are the ones week in and week out stand in all weathers helping their clubs – surely these people should be the number one candidates for the role?  If anyone can link details showing the potential new chairman’s previous experience with the Northern League, please get in touch I’ll include it here because otherwise I can only assume he’s simply walking into the role.

download
Could the Northern League become a test-bed for new policing methods when the new chairman takes over?  Will we see our grounds invaded by Police teams anyway as they seek to become involved in the increasingly popular non-league game?  Time will tell.

I can see a future where at Northern League games you have a table with your local “Safer Neighbourhood Team” giving out the mandatory stickers and leaflets by officers and PCSO’s pretending to enjoy being there on a Saturday afternoon whilst at the same time casting a watchful eye over supporters for further documentation later.

Perhaps you’ll put this down as the paranoid thoughts of someone who writes too much science fiction, but I would remind the 10,000+ fantastic followers of mine on Twitter and the 1/2 million+ wonderful readers to this site that I did predict successfully many other “fantastic” pieces of news that at the time seemed great, but quickly turned sour.

If this new candidate does get the role, I’ve probably marked my own card with this post.  But then just as I take responsibility for these words, the new chairman (if he does take the role) will either prove them right or wrong.  Maybe the new chairman will, like Mike Amos, be a credit to the Northern League.  Maybe the new chairman will continue the good work Mr Amos has done, but “maybe” is just a word.

Time will tell.