No matter who you are or where you are from, Politics is ingrained within society. From permeating discussions at the water cooler to negotiating a business deal, politics has an influence on everyone and everything. Religion is another factor which permeates society to a similar extent. To many in the north east of England sport - more importantly football - is religion.
The three largest football clubs in the north-east come from Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough. Since the election of 'New Labour' in 1997, all three have either been promoted to, or relegated from the English Premier League. Despite the church of football having such an impact in this area, the effect of politics on north-eastern football is often overlooked.
Labour were elected to government under the stewardship of Tony Blair in 1997. From this point until the election in 2001, observing data from the 97/98 to (and including) 00/01 football seasons, the three top clubs in the North East scored a total of 739 points. This equates to an average points total of 61.58 per club, per season. This total being notably buoyed by the strong performance of Sunderland in the first two full seasons of the new Labour government (90 & 105 points respectively).
Newcastle United under performed in Labour's first Parliament, scoring an average of only 48.25 points per season. Middlesbrough fared a little better in this period and achieved an average of 59 points per season.
The period covering the 01/02 to (and including) 04/05 football seasons marked a downturn for north-eastern football during Labour's second term in office. The total number of points for all three teams fell to 669 (739 previously) and the average points for each club per season fell to 55.75 from 61.58.
Mostly under the stewardship of the late Sir Bobby Robson, Newcastle United outperformed the average during this Parliament, achieving an average points total per season of 60, compared to Sunderland's 58. Middlesbrough trailed somewhat behind the pack with an average total of merely 49.25 points.
From the 05/06 to (and including) the 09/10 season, the combined points total of Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough was 729 points, an average of 48.6 points per club (per season). This is a noticeable fall from the 61.58 and 55.75 averages for each of Labour's first two Parliaments.
The downturn of points in this period is clear, these three clubs had scored a total of 739 points over the four seasons of Labour's first term, compared to only 729 over the five seasons of Labour's third term. For a second time Newcastle led the pack with an average points per season total of 56, compared to Sunderland's 44.4 and Middlesbrough's 45.4.
From the 10/11 up to (and including) the as yet incomplete 13/14 season, the average points per club per season is 50.8, up from the 48.6 average of Labour's last Parliament. Sadly both Newcastle and Sunderland are continuing to decline. Newcastle have dropped to an average of 49.5 points in this current Parliament, compared to an average of 56 points per season in the previous Parliament.
Sunderland have dropped to an average of 40 points in this current Parliament, this figure had previously been 44.4 points. Following the election of a coalition government in 2010, it seems that only Middlesbrough are prospering with an average per season total of 62.25 points, up from 45.4 which is a 136% increase.
Of course people should note that teams in the Championship play 46 games per season compared to the 38 games played in the Premier League. This may - to some degree - explain the ability of a Championship team to score a higher number of points if winning the same percentage of games in a season. Yet, opportunity doesn't always equal results.
There has been a marked reduction in the number of points won by the largest football clubs in the North East under a Labour government. Middlesbrough are currently leading the charge, I only hope that both Newcastle and Sunderland can follow in their steps. Looking back to Labour slogans of 1997, it seems at least two football clubs in the north east will be thinking 'things can only get better', even if Sunderland do end up having 46 games to play next season instead of 38.
What is a club in any case? Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It's not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes. It's the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city. It's a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father's hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love - Sir Bobby Robson
First posted at http://geordiebore.org.uk/