Football Fans Split Over Thatcher

Football Fans Split Over Thatcher – Video: Lady Thatcher with Emlyn Hughes and Kevin Keegan


Football refuses to mark Lady Thatcher’s death as many debate the legacy she left – positive or not – on the national game.

Baroness Thatcher will not be formally remembered at football matches this weekend despite calls from some club chairmen and former footballers.

Following her death on Monday, Reading chairman John Madejski and Wigan Athletic boss Dave Whelan suggested that a minute’s silence should be held at games as a mark of respect.

Sir Bobby Charlton also joined calls for a formal remembrance in her honour.

But the Premier League, Football League and Football Association have decided not to, with the FA stating they are an “apolitical organisation” and it is not their policy to honour political figures.

Sir Bobby Charlton wants Lady Thatcher to be honoured at weekend fixtures

It comes as many continue to debate the legacy Margaret Thatcher left on the national game.

Her time in power is well known as a dark decade for football, with hooligans intent on causing trouble at home and abroad.

In May 1985 riots at the Heysel stadium in Belgium left 39 supporters dead as Liverpool took on Italian side Juventus.

As a result England fans were banned from European competitions.

In the same month 56 fans were killed when a fire broke out in the wooden stands at Bradford City.

While rundown football grounds and poor security were seen as contributing factors, the then-prime minister saw law and order as the big issue.
Riots at the Heysel football stadium Riots at the Heysel stadium in Belgium in 1985 (file image)

Rogan Taylor told Sky News he was not a football fan.

“Mrs Thatcher saw football as a kind of working class industrial wasteland – one of those rust bucket industries that she wanted to kick into touch like the miners and the trade unions and shipbuilders,” he said.

“Like everything else she saw as something she ought to suffocate, rather than give life too.”

In 1989 the Football Spectators Act was introduced with controversial plans to make every football supporter carry a compulsory ID card.

It was viewed by many as punishing the majority for the crimes of a minority of hooligans.

It was however eventually dropped after the deaths of 96 fans during the Hillsborough disaster later in the same year.

The families of those who died felt let down by their prime minister and her apparent lack of support following the tragedy.

However others say Lady Thatcher may have been hardline but changed football for the better.
Hillsborough Injured Fans Treated On Pitch Families of Hillsborough victims felt let down by Lady Thatcher

Radio commentator Tom Ross remembers some of the worst trouble of the 1980s.

“It was the worst time for football hooligansim. It was a terrible time for football, worldwide we were the pariahs of football with the hooliganism,” he told Sky News.

“I think Mrs Thatcher did more to try and eradicate it – she wanted stiffer sentences for hooligans who were caught.

“Up until then, if you did something in the street, you had a stiff sentence, but if you were caught at a football match, it was a slap on the wrist.

“She did more to deal with football hooliganism and take them out of football than anybody else in the game.”

The debate will continue as to whether Lady Thatcher really was a game-changer for football – for better or worse.

It is widely acknowledged that she had little time for sport, but like other prime ministers past and present she could not ignore the significance of Britain’s national game.


“Let’s privatise her funeral. Put it out to competitive tender and accept the cheapest bid. It’s what she would have wanted


The cost of Lady Thatcher’s funeral next Wednesday will be revealed afterwards, but the Daily Mirror has estimated it could be as high as £10m. The taxpayer is expected to foot most of the bill, with the Thatcher family agreeing to make an unspecified contribution.

Ken Loach blasts plans for Margaret Thatcher’s costly funeral : 10Million £

  Director KEN LOACH has criticised plans to hold a lavish funeral for former Prime Minister MARGARET THATCHER.

Baroness Thatcher passed away after suffering a stroke on Monday (08Apr13), and officials have granted her a ceremonial funeral, one rung down from a state funeral which is usually reserved for monarchs, with full military honours.

However, celebrated filmmaker Loach is adamant a high-profile funeral will cause unnecessary tension because Thatcher’s controversial policies divided the nation and she remains unpopular in some sections of society.

Loach even suggests her funeral arrangements should be inspired by her tough economic policies.

He released a statement, obtained by The Guardian, which reads, “Margaret Thatcher was the most divisive and destructive Prime Minister of modern times. Mass unemployment, factory closures, communities destroyed – this is her legacy. She was a fighter and her enemy was the British working class…

“How should we honour her? Let’s privatise her funeral. Put it out to competitive tender and accept the cheapest bid. It’s what she would have wanted.”

Next Wednesday (17Apr13), Thatcher’s coffin will be drawn through the streets of London by a gun carriage from St Clement Danes chapel to St Paul’s Cathedral, where a funeral ceremony will be held.

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