In response to Steve Bloomfield boycotting Aston Villa

Earlier on Wednesday afternoon, an op-ed appeared in The Guardian by a man named Steve Bloomfield, who has decided that he won’t be supporting Aston Villa while John Terry has anything to do with the squad.

The former England defender joined the Championship club earlier this week on a one-year deal where he will reportedly earn £60,000-per-week in the quest to get Villa back into the Premier League. However, it’s not the exorbitant terms of the contract that has him all whipped up, it’s his history with racism.

Fair enough, we’ve all got a tipping point, and as with anything in life, if something doesn’t point in the same direction as your moral compass, you ring the bell and get off at your stop.

But reading through the piece there was something that didn’t quite sit right with me. Considering this incident is bad enough for him to want to turn his back on the club, his article wasn’t very well researched.

He suggests that the eulogies from Terry’s recent exit from Chelsea whitewashed the racist incident with QPR’s Anton Ferdinand in 2011, but further up in the article he mentions Mark Bosnich and whitewashes the Australian’s Nazi slaute at Tottenham in 1996 (it’s worth noting that Barcelona made no reference to Luis Suarez’s own brush with racism or his biting incidents when they signed him in 2014).

Image via The Telegraph

A bigger sticking point, though, is that he completely overlooks a report released by the British Transport Police in 2015 that showed that Villa fans have been involved in a high number of racist incidents, which also included criminal damage and assaulting police officers.

But the main issue, for me, is that his piece was written from a platform of enormous privilege.

It would have made a lot more sense if he, or whoever commissioned the article, sought a writer of colour to ask them their opinions as they are, y’know, the ones more likely to be affected by Terry’s actions. The whole thing is more problematic than ‘I don’t like this player because he’s racist’. If that’s the case, just don’t turn up, why’d he have to write (and profit?) off it? Why didn’t he walk away when that 2015 report emerged if he felt that strongly about it?

Mr Bloomfield is the deputy editor of Prospect Magazine and formerly of Monocle, and has written a very good book about football in Africa, but as far as I can tell, he has no history writing about Aston Villa.

As a Villa fan myself, I do get where he is coming from, and I’m not best pleased that someone with a rapsheet like Terry’s is going to be associated with my club, but if I was going to walk away because of it, I wouldn’t look to expand my portfolio off the back of it, and it’s a shame he felt the need to do that.

In the article he he records with some reverie how he became a supporter of the club. This happened at a time when racism from the stands was rife, but makes no mention of what he almost certainly heard from those around him before going on to talk about how the UK’s prime antiracism body, Kick It Out, recieves just £500,000 a year in funding.

Instead of writing a needless aside, wouldn’t he be best served highlighting their need for greater backing? I simply don’t get the point of his piece. I wonder if he has their app.

This isn’t an attack on Mr Bloomfield, I just think his and The Guardian’s time would be better spent elsewhere (as would mine for that matter). He is clearly an accomplished journalist, but the article feels like naked opportunism to jump on the back of someone who is already widely revilled at football grounds across the country and it’s come from a man who, to me, is no more qualified to be paid to write about Aston Villa as those who do it everyday. Why haven’t they recieved the same platform? Why hasn’t somebody who will be more directly affected by Terry’s actions?

Just walk away, Steve, but do it quietly, your time is apparently best spent doing something else.