20 October 2014

KEMY AND THE CHARITY SHOP

After last week’s miserable blog about how all Albionite writers have lost their humour, a funny little short story arrived in our post-box. It came in the old fashioned way, courtesy of a letter that must have giggled its way through the postal service to TSLR Towers. If it had been on a postcard, the postman would have stolen it. The humour is still there, it looks like we just have to ask for it…

Maureen had worked in the Worthing Scope charity shop since 1975. Of course, in 1975 it wasn’t known as Scope. She had begun working for the Worthing, Littlehampton and District Society which was affiliated to the national body. Many changes had happened to her, the charity and the shop down the years but she was always happy working for something she truly believed in. Maureen would always arrive to the shop on Chapel Road early to prepare for the day ahead and today was no different.

It was a spring Thursday in June, and Maureen was excited. That morning she was expecting a celebrity at the shop. And celebrities didn’t come to Worthing’s Chapel Road every day. A professional footballer had run into trouble with the law for repeated driving offences and was due at Scope to carry out some community service. At Maureen’s shop! She didn’t exactly like footballers - they were prima donnas, earning too much money and treating the law with contempt. But Maureen was prepared to give this one a chance. And she was a little bit excited.

A larger man than expected walked through the door, sporting an unshaven chin, and dressed in a leather jacket. “I’m here for my community service punishment”, he told Maureen. “You don’t look slim enough to be a footballer”, said the shop assistant, “are you really Kemy Agustien?” “Yes, I’m Kemy,” said Kemy, “I’m here for my shift. And I am a footballer!”

Maureen ushered the big man into the back room. Kemy’s first job was to sort through the bin bags left on the doorstep overnight. By lunchtime he’d sorted through them all as Maureen and her assistant, Susan, did little but chat at the front counter. As a prize for his good work, in the afternoon he would be allowed behind the counter. Maureen distributed cucumber sandwiches and cups of tea for lunch. Kemy was surprised at how he was actually enjoying himself. He had spent about as many hours in the shop as he had played for Albion now.

Maureen was pleased with the time and effort Kemy had put into her shop, though she still doubted whether he was an actual footballer. Maybe the community service team had meant to tell her they were sending someone who sold pies at the football rather than an actual footballer. Though he was dressed expensively enough to be a footballer, she thought. Maureen had been particularly pleased with the way Kemy had conducted himself in the afternoon. They had never sold so many Ruth Rendell Mysteries. And it was all because the strapping Kemy had convinced a gaggle of old ladies that they should buy them.

But all good things come to an end, and at 5pm Maureen reluctantly shut the shop. “Thanks for all your hard work today, Kemy. Seeing as you’re banned from driving, can I call you a taxi?”

“No it’s alright, Maureen. I’ve got my BMW X6 parked in Union Place.”

17 October 2014

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

The BBC has done a rather good job the last couple of years of telling us football supporters how badly we’re being ripped off. They're latest iteration basically tells us what we already know, that the cost of football increases ever more, despite the continued stagnation in most people's wages. Yet the latest set of figures has thrown up some interesting observations specifically about the Albion, and the costliness of going to Falmer. In this article, the BBC sport team tell us the ten things they have learnt from the exercise. In this TSLR article, we look at the five things we have.

Our cheapest season ticket is the third most expensive in the league

This is all about context. I’ve always thought that £465 to watch all 23 Albion home games (about £20.22 per match) is pretty cheap. But in the context of other Division 2 teams, it certainly now looks pricey. To think, only Norwich (£499.50) and Bournemouth (£480) are more expensive to go to. It is quite odd we’re so expensive compared to these two - Bournemouth are obviously hampered by a small ground (capacity of 12,000 apparently - a rather convenient round number, don’t you think?) and Norwich have recently been paying top flight prices (and top flight wages).

The BBC handily tell us: “The cheapest season ticket at Brighton and Hove Albion is 36% more than the average comparable cost for the Championship of £343.” So where would you pay just £343? Slap bang in the middle is Brentford (£343) though don’t expect this to be the case at their new ground. It could stay that cheap I suppose, as they need to compete with seemingly hundreds of other London clubs. Both Fulham and Charlton season tickets are significantly less. Personally, as a resident of London, and if football clubs could be chosen by cost alone, Charlton looks cracking value. Their season tickets - the cheapest in the second tier - are just £150. And they don’t think much of P****e.

Talking of the Selhurst scummers, yes they’re home ground is a health and safety nightmarish mess - and their cheapest match tickets are a whopping £30 - but they’re cheapest season ticket is just £420. Half of top flight clubs have cheaper tickets than Albion: Everton (£444); Swansea (£429); Sunderland (£400); Leicester (£365); West Bromwich Albion (£349); Stoke (£344); Aston Villa (£335); Burnley (£329) and Manchester City (£299) all join P****e as cheaper than Albion. The head honchos at Falmer can hide behind the usual arguments - these are clubs in less affluent areas (all of them) or these are clubs with huge grounds they can’t fill (Villa, Manchester City). The former argument works better with me, play-offs aside, it’s not like we’ve ever filled Falmer.

We are the most expensive in the league for ‘cheapest day out’

This isn’t the fault of Brighton being an expensive place to visit, this is all to do with Falmer being an expensive place to visit. The BBC states that for a ‘day out’ they have added together the price of a match-day ticket, pie, cup of tea and a programme. Albion are the most expensive for this of all 24 tier two sides, at £34.70. Sheffield Wednesday is the cheapest - basically half that, costing just £17.80. Factor in the fact that really a day out also includes plenty of Harveys and possibly a second pie offering from Piglet’s, then you are looking at nearer £50. Luckily we’ve got that season ticket to bring the match-day ticket price down by £4.78 a match. That’s at least another Harveys for the Saturday afternoon stomach collection.

Tea costs a hideous amount wherever you are

At Falmer you pay £2.10 for a cup of tea apparently. I’d never know because the only interaction I have with tea drinkers is the sneer I give them as they hold up the beer queue at half time (dedicated hot drink lanes please). The cheapest cup of tea in the league is at Brentford and that costs £1.50 FFSMurray. The rising price of tea has infuriated me outside of football in recent times - I paid an outrageous £1.20 for a hangover chasing caffeine boost this very morning. There should be some sort of law - I mean, it’s a tea bag, hot water and long life milk, how much can it be? At Southampton (the most expensive in the country) a tea costs £2.50. Four clubs in Division 4 share the distinction of having the cheapest tea in the league - Newport County, Portsmouth, Accrington Stanley and Stevenage charge £1. Or the price of a fanzine.

The cost of the Albion shirt is £2.21 more than the average cost of £42.79 in the Championship

Does £2.21 really matter? Probably not. Would £2.21 get you another pie? Or a Harveys? No, it’d get you a cup of tea. And 11 pence change!

Piglet’s Pantry pies are the most expensive in the division

And worth every penny.

The most worrying thing about this compilation of data from the BBC is that the clubs who aren’t charging the most get a jolly easy way of seeing what they can get away with. It’s almost free market research for them, and they’re all making enough money to carry that out for themselves. It’s hard to properly draw conclusions though as the BBC’s figures come from different parts of the country with different micro-economies and different circumstances. Yes, the Albion is more expensive than London clubs in our league, but Fulham, Charlton and Brentford have never been particularly popular clubs. Yes, we’re more expensive than some northern clubs in the top flight, but they don’t necessarily have a swanky new stadium or supporters who can afford any more. The real analysis is the value for money chart the BBC hasn’t compiled. It reads like this, if we’re winning, we’ll pay whatever they want!

14 October 2014

WHERE HAS ALL THE HUMOUR GONE?

When we were writing blogs regularly, I couldn’t help but wonder whether we were adding to a saturated market. There were hilarious Albion blogs everywhere - you know, the ones that provided an alternative viewpoint to the usual crap served up by the official website. Or channelled through a local newspaper so worried about losing access to the club that their stories appear like club press releases. We have taken a back seat from providing this amusing commentary after six years or so (we thought that Colin Hawkins jokes could offer you no more amusement) but recently we’re finding it hard to find anything remotely funny (or even different) being written about the club at all. Well, that is without it being hidden by six pages of irrelevant material on a North Stand Chat thread about extremism in schools.

Outside of the Argus and the club website, there are plenty of blogs simply regurgitating match reports. So many I’m not even going to regurgitate them here. More often than ever when I flick across to Newsnow’s Albion page, it is stuffed with several versions of the same story (and I’m not having a go at Newsnow - they list us, FFSMurray). In fact, they’re not even stories anymore, they’re club press releases. Rarely rewritten. Simply copied and pasted onto a different website. For a different set of advertisers who nobody notices. Newsnow over the past two days has published 18 Albion stories. Eight of them are club statements on the official website and a further six are from the Argus. I know, it’s an international break but where are the funny stories about Casper Ankergren smoking or Leo Ulloa snogging some girl down West Street who isn’t his wife? There used to at least be a few of those...

We Are Brighton have either got as bored of blogging as we seemingly have, or have been subject to a hostile takeover by the club website. Their latest post is a copy and paste job from the official website about Tottenham tickets going on sale. Their previous post a match preview for the ‘upcoming’ Charlton match. Their hilarious posts of last season - like comparing Kemy’s driving points total with the number earned by P****e seem a distant memory.

Then there’s The Goldstone Wrap - the light-hearted look at some of the preposterous Albion media coverage of yesteryear. On 25 June 2014, a post - It's a Wrap - suggested that we would be shown no more delightful examples of how the Albion has been portrayed in the media down the years. Luckily, the man behind the blog hasn’t quite fulfilled that promise and has treated us to four posts since. But they’re now few and far between.

Now I’m less critical of these two as they always featured in TSLR. Not Worth That has developed a wonderful blog, it’s more amusing than the traditional media and can often be confused with proper journalism. Whilst it moved beyond simply taking the mickey out of the club it was valuable to have a source of information outside of the club, or the club’s trance. But since the summer Not Worth That has seemingly gone underground.

At The End of the Day Des was another of our early recruits and, to be fair, was always a bit slack on updating the blog. However the last thing published coincided with the last ever hard copy version of the fanzine, back in April. Even Jem Stone’s Buzzfeed lists have dried up. I'll even take a Mendoze Sky Sports column right now. Where have all the funny Albion fans gone? The ones replaced by a miserable, ageing subsection of Albionites we used to store amongst the weeds of the East Terrace.

Perhaps this is why we started a fanzine in the first place. Anyway, apologies for the rant, I’ve just realised that writing about nobody writing funny stuff about the Albion isn’t at all funny. I’m off to find something humouress to write about. Maybe Colin Hawkins can help.

18 September 2014

LOSING PRETTY?‏


As we left Griffin Park’s many pubs on Saturday, Albionites were bemoaning our haphazard approach to the game. I was smiling after a defeat for the first time in as long as I can remember. Yes, we maybe should have sacrificed our ridiculously attacking full backs (especially at 1-0 down) but, overall, we were a joy to watch. I’ve heard of winning ugly, but losing pretty? It works for me, if not all Albion fans.

‘Winning ugly’ is a term we’ve heard countless times over the years. It was best performed by us in that magical March under Gus when all our tippy-tappy excellence was reduced to long-ball 1-0 wins at the likes of Dagenham and Redbridge and Yeovil. I think we managed seven 1-0 wins that month. We won ugly and we won the league.

Brentford was possibly the first time in my Albion supporting history that I actually felt inspired in defeat. Technically, if skill level per player is what you’re after, we’ve genuinely never had it so good. Of course, at some point this season, our lovely passing, genuinely gorgeous skill and outlandish attacking effort will need to turn into points. I know that. But, at this end of the season, in a Championship that threatens to be just as mediocre as it has been the last few seasons, I’m more than happy with our start to the season.

Did anybody seriously think we’d blag it into the play-offs after our start last season? On paper, Oscar Garcia’s debut performances were better (points wise at least) than Sami’s this term, though the core of Gus’ ceiling squad was still together. The scale of changes at the club the summer just gone should not be underestimated. However there are enough signs already to start thinking we could be entering a great new era.

Griffin Park showed us a formation I don’t think I’ve come across before, certainly at Albion. In defence and attack we sort of played two centre-backs, two full-backs as wingers, three central midfielders and three up front. It was almost a 2-5-3 if you like, a sort of progressive (or possibly regressive, depending on your opinion) return to the WM formation of yesteryear. It mainly didn’t work because we didn’t take the lead and yet there we were, with five clear cut chances before Brentford began to come close. That’s more chances than we managed in more than two consecutive games last season.

Of course the inspiration I emerged with from Griffin Park was tempered slightly by our loss at Ipswich in midweek. But again, we had the chances first and simply failed to convert them. What we could really do with is an £8m striker - now where do you find one of those? The amount of chances we are creating is incredible, more than most games in any of our recent Division 2 seasons. Just think of the joy Mr Ulloa would be having. It does means that pressure is mounting on one of his replacements to become that 12-goal a season (!) striker we’re missing so much. Give them time, they’ll get there.

That’s the thing with football - you need personnel to match at the right time for really special things to happen. How many 1-0 wins would Bobby Z have managed without Paul Watson and a solid backline?

The Sami Hyypiä WM formation needs work, especially defensively. The full backs cum wingers were pushed so far forward on Saturday that any pacey Brentford attack left paceless Gordon Greer / Lewis Dunk / Aaron Hughes terrifyingly exposed (and it was genuinely terrifying, being that close to the action from the away terrace). But it can work. It just needs two very disciplined holding midfielders to sit deep and allow our full backs forward. That is progressive attacking play, whether you like it or not - it confuses opposition players (and ours still, at the moment!) and stretches the game as much as possible.

Having such width then offers players like Kazenga LuaLua the opportunity to exploit space - arguably one of his two attributes (shooting hard being the other). So it was frustrating for everyone to see our somersaulting extraordinaire yet again ploughing an unwinnable task through the middle of the field.

Time will fix this. Players, universally stunted by small brains, will adapt to this way of playing. It requires new thinking from them - they need reassurance that they can play in a formation other than 4-4-2 or 4-5-1. This should come, especially if we start taking those chances to offer confidence that we can win this way. We, as fans, must give it a chance too. Why? I don’t see any other great plans on the horizon. Do we really want another summer without a manager? And wholesale playing staff changes No, I thought not. We must change our thinking, and smash through that ceiling.

We still have some way to go to be the club we all now somehow aspire to be. But after wholesale changes to the playing and coaching staff for the second summer running, we must be ahead of where most thought we would be. Keep the faith kids, this could easily be as exciting an era as any. Up the Albion.

For all you Albion merchandising needs, check out the TSLR ONLINE SHOP. Put in an order and we might even send it to you within a month. Our stock regularly runs out, sorry.

8 June 2014

HYYPIA: THE GERMAN VIEW

Albion fan and Bundesliga expert Jonathan Harding gives us an introduction to Sami Hyypia.

Back in 2009 when I was left sickened after Francis Laurent had just scored an injury-time winner for Southend at the Withdean, I never would have imagined what lay ahead for Brighton. From the Amex to Poyet and consecutive play-off semi-finals, I was left marvelling at where and how the club had progressed.

Now that the bitter taste surrounding Gus’ departure has all but been digested and Garcia’s interlude has come to an end, the attention turns to the new man entrusted with balancing our footballing hopes. Sami Hyypiä is a big name, but he arrives just as unproven as many of his predecessors.

Rudi Völler, Leverkusen’s sporting director, supported Hyypiä at the beginning of April 2014, saying the club didn’t feel the partnership was over because Sami was a fighter. Five days and a disastrous defeat to relegation-battlers Hamburg later, the Finn was out in the cold.

Völler was certainly right when he said that Hyypiä was still learning at the management level, and taking Leverkusen as your first job is topped only by David Moyes taking over at Manchester United in terms of being thrown in at the deep end.

Perhaps Brighton can be encouraged how quickly Hyypiä learned to swim though. In his first seven games in charge, Leverkusen won six, scoring 17 in the process. The club finished 2013 in second and hot on the heels of Bayern Munich. Yet amidst the rays of success, there were clouds of concern looming. A sloppy finish to the first half of the season was one thing, but the embarrassing performance against a far from formidable Manchester United side was a quiet reminder of Hyypiä’s limits.

From mid February until Hyypiä’s dismissal at the beginning of April, Leverkusen only picked up five league points from a possible 27. Three consecutive defeats to Schalke, Wolfsburg and Mainz (sides all aspiring for a European spot) damaged Leverkusen’s confidence and Hyypiä couldn’t haul them out of it.

“It’s clear that as a manager, he’s only had to enjoy the sunnier side of management so far. He’s never had to deal with a crisis, and that’s why he’s lacking a bit of experience in the current situation,” said Völler five days before sacking the Finn. While Völler’s words were true at the time, their validity has since expired. Hyypiä arrives at Brighton having experienced the pressure and expectation that comes with bad form.

While the former Liverpool defender does arrive with some pedigree, he’s still a fresh face in the managerial world and he must grow up fast if he is to make his time a success.

Too often during the Bundesliga season just finished, he seemingly failed or lacked the ability to motivate his side at pivotal moments. Hyypiä’s kind nature makes him appear more of a friend than a manager, something that may have hindered him. His tactical knowledge is growing, although he has a conservative tendency, and his naivety was surprising for a man of his footballing experience. His decision to rest his favoured front four in a league game against newly promoted Eintracht Braunschweig cost him three points, while vocalising his desire for clarification about his position to the press seemed youthfully unwise.

Hyypiä arrives at Brighton as a big name, but do not mistake Hyypiä the formidable central defender for Hyypiä the manager. One was a natural leader, the other is learning how to be one.


After one Latin-American cabaret and a Spanish affair, Brighton are in need of someone calmer and with less of an ego. Hyypiä certainly fits that bill perfectly, but it will be intriguing to see whether he can develop more than his tactical notebook at the club. If he does, the Seagulls could well fly higher than ever before.

Follow Jonathan at @JonBloggs66

29 May 2014

HOW DOES LEO ULLOA COMPARE TO OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP STRIKERS?

As if losing their play-off semi final, head coach and current player of the year wasn't bad enough, Brighton and Hove Albion fans have had the prospect of the Seagulls shedding their talismanic centre forward Leo Ulloa thrust down their collective throats by a flurry of newspaper stories linking the striker to Leicester City.

According to reports in the press, the recently promoted Foxes have lodged a trio of bids for the player -starting with a £3million opening assault and edging gradually upwards. The Albion apparently want £10million for him. Yes. You read that correctly. TEN MILLION POUNDS for a Brighton player.

Ulloa joined the Albion back in January last year following a lengthy courtship from then Seagulls boss Gus Poyet. The fee was undisclosed but believed to be around the £2million mark and the striker put pen to paper on a four-and-a-half-year deal at The Amex.

A year and four and a bit months into that deal the Seagulls are likely to see their resolve tested yet further, with Leicester dogged in their pursuit of the forward who plundered 14 goals and four assists in 35 outings this season.

But how much IS he really worth? And how does he compare with other leading strikers in England’s second tier?
Read the full article on the Not Worth That website HERE



23 April 2014

NORTH STAND SOCIAL CLUB


We've just taken delivery of a bunch of new stock of our super t-shirts, which will sell out in the size you want very soon, leaving you with the mammoth task of gaining around 10 stone in weight so you can wear one of our XXXL efforts for your summer holiday.

Along with our classic Good Old Sussex By The Sea and Stand Or Fall designs, we're also pleased to launch our new North Stand Social Club schmutter, essential outerware for the endless trips to Churchill Square that are round the corner as Saturdays become a deathly void of stimulation.

Check out our store by clicking HERE.

15 April 2014

POLICING HOMOPHOBIA AT THE ALBION: A NEW REPORT

I recently made a request to Sussex Police, based on the repeat ‘Tweeting’ of arrest and ejection statistics for homophobic offences at Albion games, by Darren Balkham, the Sussex Police football liaison officer. I was curious to discover how many of these ejections and arrests resulted in criminal prosecutions against those involved. Thankfully, the Freedom of Information Act allowed me to request this sort of information from Sussex Police, and dictated timescales within which they had to respond to my request.

I have to report disappointment in having to find all the details of how to make this request myself, despite two undertakings from Darren Balkham to assist me, including one promise to address the broken Sussex Police FOI submission form. To my knowledge the facility to make such an electronic submission is still not working. I did not hear back from Darren Balkham following his final undertaking to address the problems I was having... once he was back in the office. I can only assume that he’s still out and about somewhere apprehending villains.

The questions I sought answers to were as follows (in bold), with the answers I received from Sussex Police inserted beneath them:

In relation to policing at The Amex stadium, for BHAFC match days that occurred in the calendar year 2013, I would like to know the following;

Number of allegations of homophobic behaviour/abuse reported to the Police by the public or stewards ;
Unfortunately we do not have this information in a centrally collated format and would require the manual search of documents and files, in order to answer your questions.

Number of instances of homophobic behaviour/abuse detected by Police staff/officers (excluding those that were initially reported by the public or stewards);
Separate data detailed below. The data is based on data from our custody system as the crime system does not have a homophobic marker to match that on the custody record, and will not correspond to the data from custody.

Number of persons ejected from the stadium based on homophobic behaviour/abuse;
Separate data detailed below. The data is based on data from our custody system as the crime system does not have a homophobic marker to match that on the custody record, and will not correspond to the data from custody.

Number of arrests in and around the stadium, and on any journey by public transport to or from the stadium, as a result of homophobic behaviour/abuse;
Separate data detailed below. The data is based on data from our custody system as the crime system does not have a homophobic marker to match that on the custody record, and will not correspond to the data from custody.

Number of persons charged as a result of homophobic behaviour/abuse;
Separate data detailed below. The data is based on data from our custody system as the crime system does not have a homophobic marker to match that on the custody record, and will not correspond to the data from custody.

Statistics on recommendations for prosecution made by investigating officers, as opposed to the number of cautions issued and prosecutions commenced (i.e. how many times did an investigating officer think a prosecution was worthwhile and requested a decision from a senior officer or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and, from within that number, how many times was a caution issued, how many times was a prosecution not commenced and how many prosecutions were undertaken?);
Unfortunately we do not have this information in a centrally collated format and would require the manual search of documents and files, in order to answer your questions.

Copies of decision-records for those cases where decisions were made not to prosecute (i.e. where no prosecution was undertaken, or where a caution was issued), including the organisation and grade of the person making the decision (redacted as necessary to protect people’s identities, or copied onto plain-paper formats if document-structures and formats are considered sensitive):
Unfortunately we do not have this information in a centrally collated format and would require the manual search of documents and files, in order to answer your questions.

Number of cautions issued as a result of homophobic behaviour/abuse;
Separate data detailed below. The data is based on data from our custody system as the crime system does not have a homophobic marker to match that on the custody record, and will not correspond to the data from custody.

Number of convictions obtained as a result of homophobic behaviour/abuse;
Unfortunately we do not have this information in a centrally collated format and would require the manual search of documents and files, in order to answer your questions.

Details of sentences/fines/community service orders imposed for those convictions (if these are not available to Sussex Police might I please be directed to the correct contact within the CPS or the Court Service to make this request, although I would hope that the PNC would hold this information).
Unfortunately we do not have this information in a centrally collated format and would require the manual search of documents and files, in order to answer your questions.

Copies of guidance and policy documents for staff/officers who have homophobic behaviour/abuse reported to them, or witnessed by them.
Section 21 - Information reasonably accessed by other means.
In terms of Section 21 of the FOI Act 2000, information reasonably accessible by other means, I can confirm that the above policy can be found on the Sussex Police home page.
Please see below link which will direct you straight to the appropriate policy.
If such statistics are maintained, I would be keen to know how many of each of the above categories (apart from nos. 10 and11) relate to home fans and how many relate to away fans.
This would create new data which a public authority is not required to do under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

While some of these answers are useful, others strike me as pretty unhelpful; but I’ll get to that in a moment.

The separately provided data revealed the following statistics (I have inserted the details of the away team although I am unaware whether those arrested were home or away supporters) –




This shows that the alleged offender was referred to the Courts to determine whether they were guilty in only four of nine cases of reported homophobic abuse. 

Paragraph 15 of the Guidance from the Director of Public Prosecutions (http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/directors_guidance/dpp_guidance_5.html ) indicates that the Police cannot make their own charging decision where ‘hate crimes’ are concerned (i.e. they must seek the approval of the CPS to charge someone, unlike some low-level criminal offences, e.g. shoplifting). Therefore, the decisions made where the alleged offender was not charged would all have been taken by the CPS, whether the Police recommended this action or not. 

In light of the advances made in the CPS’s engagement and equality processes over the past 5-10 years, it is surprising to see so few recent decisions to charge where such an offence was concerned. 

Paragraph 26 of the above guidance clearly indicates that paperwork relating to what decision was made, and why, should be held. The answer to question seven indicated that the Police do not collate this paperwork centrally. 

FOI requests can result in the person making the request being asked to pay if that request will cost the organisation more than £450 to respond. I may have to go back to Sussex Police and ask them why a manual search for nine pieces of paper would exceed this financial limit, either in staff hours or in subsequent photocopying costs.

I’m also surprised that, in relation to question 10, the Police National Computer does not contain details of any sentences or fines imposed or, if it does, that is not considered to be ‘centrally collated’ within this system. I would have been very interested to see whether the Criminal Justice System imposed fines commensurate with offences of racism, in similar circumstances. 

Compare the Court-imposed fine for Colin Kazim-Richards’ homophobic gesture (£750) with the FA-imposed fine for John Terry’s racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand (£220,000 and a four-game ban), or Luis Suarez’s verbal assault on Patrice Evra (£40,000 and a four-match ban). 

(That said, a quick ‘Google’ search revealed that a Derby fan found guilty of racist abuse of players in 2013 was fined just £219 [plus £750 costs], although he was banned from attending games for three years. It doesn’t take much to see that the Court system lets homophobes and racists off more-lightly than the FA does. It will be interesting to see, if CKR’s conviction is upheld at appeal, whether the FA impose as high a fine and ban on him as they did Terry and Suarez.)

In relation to the available statistics it is a surprise to see that, in light of the media-reported prevalence of homophobic abuse levelled at Brighton fans, only nine people were arrested throughout 2013, on suspicion of such offences, and that the Police kept no statistics to show how many allegations of homophobic behaviour were made to them. This failing is consistent with the Police performance highlighted in the BBC’s Panorama episode that addressed similar problems (i.e. reports of homophobic abuse being made but the Police recording nothing of the allegation). 

UKBA have recently received lots of criticism regarding how they record and account for ‘allegations’ of immigration offences that are made by the public. So much criticism in fact that they have implemented a separate database to count them and account for what happened as a result - LINK

While these immigration statistics look poor (1 in 100 allegations results in action being taken) at least they know how many allegations there are and so can, presumably, analyse them in some way to see whether they need to target their resources more-effectively. It would appear that Sussex Police aren’t yet quite as effective as UKBA... or their answers are as suggested earlier, unhelpful.

However, it is worthy of positive comment that since the change in policy last summer (regarding intolerance of such behaviour), all persons arrested for homophobic offences have been charged. Whether this reflects a better attitude from the Police, the CPS, or both I cannot say.

Before the change of policy, the charging of only one person out of six arrested for homophobic abuse is uncomfortable reading, particularly when half of those had no further action taken against them.

I do not know whether the names of those arrested were relayed to the club they support for consideration of some other form of action. I also do not know whether details of the fans who have been charged have been passed to their club. I would hope that such an action is permitted under the Data Protection Act, and that clubs are encouraged to ban supporters who aim homophobic abuse at others.
It will be interesting to see, in a year’s time, whether a similar request for information is responded to with a similar lack of collated data, or whether performance monitoring is better able to detail the number of allegations made, as opposed to the number of occasions when the Police have seen fit to make an arrest.

Having travelled to the Amex alongside away fans indulging in homophobic abuse (Leeds fans this year singing “We can see you sucking dick”), it was disappointing to see the Sussex Police officer in the same train carriage making no attempts to suppress the abuse at the time, and no efforts to deal with the ringleaders of the abuse after arriving at Falmer; and all of this after the change in policy to be tougher on homophobic behaviour and chanting. Is it any wonder there were only nine arrests in 2013?

I accept that a single officer attempting to limit abuse from a large group of fans is in a dangerous position but once fans alighted the train and more Police staff were present, I saw the officer summon no assistance, speak to none of the abusive fans in question, and make no notes about what had happened. I ‘tweeted’ about this to Sussex Police (not the most-robust of actions, I admit) but I wasn’t asked for any further details or given any advice. The FOI response I received clearly illustrates that there were no arrests for homophobic abuse by the Leeds fans that day.

There are many who still see homophobic abuse as acceptable banter. There are also those who repeatedly claim that homophobia never crosses their mind when they’re going to a football match, so they don’t understand why others are so concentrated in their efforts to raise awareness of it.

I have never heard anyone openly say that eliminating racism at football grounds is unnecessary in their eyes because the race or skin colour of a player is not something they care about. While it is right that most people don’t care what race someone is, it is also right that the same people are determined to eliminate racism from football and care about the impact it has on all people, not just those at whom the abuse or discrimination is directed. I don’t understand why this attitude doesn’t apply to homophobia.

Maybe it’s because the homophobic abuse is aimed at the fans, not the players... but if racist abuse were aimed at fans, everybody would be rightly appalled by it.

Maybe it’s because sexual orientation isn’t visible and so it’s hard to identify those at whom the abused is aimed... but when it’s aimed at all Brighton fans (the majority of whom will be heterosexual, statistically), maybe they don’t care because it doesn’t feel to them that they are being abused for something that they care about.

I’ve heard numerous responses to homophobic abuse, amongst them, “one-nil to the nancy-boys” when we score. If racial abuse along the lines of monkey chants and similar was aimed at our fans, would a response of (with all apologies for writing this) “one-nil to the banana eaters” be acceptable? Of course not, because it promotes the negative, discriminatory attitudes that racism celebrates.

So, when Albion fans are chanting “one-nil to the nancy-boys” while holding a ‘limp-wrist’ aloft to the opposition fans, are they eliminating homophobia, reinforcing it, or just indulging in banter?
Racism and homophobia are both classified as ‘hate incidents/crime’ by the Police and I do not understand why one appears to be taken more seriously than the other. It is strange that people of all races see racism as unacceptable, but people of different sexual orientations do not all see homophobia as unacceptable. Hopefully one day this will change. Is that something you want to contribute to?

Thanks to Dan Aitch for this article.