Sunday, February 28News For London

London mayoral election 2016: Could football play a part?

London’s upcoming mayoral election in May might not be as close-run a thing as first thought, but it could be that football fans will have the final say.

Sadiq Khan’s environmental policies has made him popular with younger voters (Source: Flickr / DIUS Corporate)

Politics and Football: A History

Football has long been a bastion of English pride. From celebrities to your average man in the pub, all corners of society gleefully grasp at the pride and respect that supporting a club can bring you. Being a fan means more than just following a team. It is an unequivocal and unwavering belief in seemingly pointless weekly rituals. And it is this faith that makes announcing your allegiance so inviting to politicians. From Tony Blair’s love of Newcastle to Alastair Campbell’s vociferous following of Burnley, it is hard to resist the temptation football provides.

Unfortunately, this desperate need to connect with the people can result in complete disaster, as David Cameron’s supposed “brain fade” so clearly showed. His yearning desire to paint himself as all things to all people backfired the moment he professed support to West Ham instead of his ‘treasured’ Aston Villa. Politicians have a hard enough time getting the public to believe in them without insulting the fans’ intelligence.

Politicians should instead focus on the issues that football fans face today. From match day transport to rising ticket prices, there are many areas that could be improved to benefit politicians and fans alike. The two can, and should, make the most of each other. After all, what better to unite us in times of tragedy and joy than football?

Westminster World scoured the pubs in search for football fans’ thoughts, and it seems that fans both young and old are most worried about rising prices. Politicians would do well to listen.

Listen to their responses below:

Talk of the stadium: Football fans interviewed

After listening to pub punters’ gripes about ticket prices, the fans who are willing to pay the exorbitant expense to see their teams play live are the next port of call.

Westminster World headed down to Stamford Bridge and White Hart Lane to interrogate Chelsea and Spurs fans on the role that football could play in the upcoming mayoral election.

Although politics is not at the forefront of most football fans’ minds, a football stadium could well be a good forum for fringe political campaigns. We found leafleters from the Grassroots Out campaign outside Stamford Bridge, attempting to make the case for a Brexit.

Football fan survey: What do young Londoners think?

Football fans account for a large portion of the voting population, and therefore are a crucial demographic to consider in the upcoming mayoral election in May. A survey conducted by Westminster World on the subject of political policies and possible relations to sport revealed younger football fans are more politically engaged than usually thought.

Around 70% of respondents were between the ages of 18-34 and the survey suggested that 52% of them would be interested in sports funding being included in the parties’ election campaigns. Over half of respondents also said that they would be voting for Labour’s Sadiq Khan, citing his environmental policies and his background as major factors in their decision.

Below are the survey’s full results:

The Candidates: A guide




Labour Party 

Any policies that could benefit football fans?

While football does not feature heavily in their campaign, frontrunner Sadiq Khan stresses that he wants to focus on freezing London transport fares, a move that will please London fans. In addition, his aim to protect green spaces could be good for recreational footballers.

Which London team does Sadiq Khan support?

Khan is known to be a loyal Liverpool supporter, following no London team. An interesting choice for the Tooting native.

If the Labour party were a London football team… Arsenal

Always one of the biggest names around, but not in the driving seat for the last few years. Wrapped in red, both are hopeful of better times ahead in terms of ruling the capital and the country.







Conservative Party

Any policies that could benefit football fans?

Football is not top of their agenda, with housing issues at the forefront of their mind. Candidate Zac Goldsmith also focuses on the green belt, vowing to create more green spaces and cleaning up local parks.

Which London team does Zac Goldsmith support?

None, it would seem Goldsmith rather prefers a round of cricket.

If the Conservative Party were a London football team… Chelsea

Associated with the upper class and with considerable success in recent years, their current situation is less than stellar and the future somewhat unclear.

lib dem




Liberal Democrats

Any policies that could benefit football fans?

Lib Dem candidate Caroline Pidgeon is keen to highlight the party’s hopes for the future regarding sport, “While we haven’t addressed football specifically in our forthcoming manifesto, we are anxious to ensure that playing fields are retained throughout all parts of the capital for those who play the game recreationally.”

Which London team does Caroline Pidgeon support?

Pidgeon’s supports local Isthmian Division team Dulwich Hamlet. “For family reasons I also look out for Fulham’s results but I don’t have the time to attend matches on a regular basis.”

If the Liberal Democrats were a London football team… Tottenham

Well-meaning and ambitious almost to a fault, but have been unable to capitalise on their potential. They are, however, still among the top teams, and hopeful of success in May.








Green Party

Any policies that could benefit football fans?

Green candidate Siân Berry remains true to the party’s name. “I have promised to make sure that all Londoners are within easy reach of parks, play areas and green spaces. Recently I pledged to support saving Oakfields Playing Fields in Barkingside, where more than 1,000 people play football or cricket every weekend.”

Which London team does Green Party candidate Siân Berry support?

As a North London native, Berry is an Arsenal supporter. “As a transport campaigner I created a report and survey to look at football travel across the country in 2013 and Arsenal were one of the best teams for helping people travel without their car to matches.”

If the Green Party were a London football team… Fulham

Everyone’s second favourite, but they are unlikely to win the top prize. Nestled in a leafy part of town, out of sight, they can sometimes surprise you.








UK Independence Party

Any policies that could benefit football fans?

Like other parties, the housing market is one UKIP’s main priorities, but there are not many football-related issues in their campaign. They do support Brexit, and there’s speculation this could have consequences for foreign football players wanting to play in England.

Which London team does Peter Whittle support?

Radio silence on that front.

If UKIP were a London football team… Millwall

Not everyone’s cup of tea, but they don’t really seem to care. Unlikely to fight for the top spot, but vocal enough to keep them in mind when talking about the main London teams.


Words: Alexandra Vryzakis, Arthur Renard and Ingrid Welch
Sub-editor: Alexandra Vryzakis and David Gregg