Sportswashing ‘not a thing’, and a Wednesdayite ponders what to do about Hillsborough…

The outside of the West Stand, the Leppings Lane end, at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium. Credit: Alamy
The outside of the West Stand, the Leppings Lane end, at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium. Credit: Alamy

The Mailbox insists sportswashing doesn’t exist. And if it does, it definitely doesn’t work. Also: some context from a Wednesday fan over their Hillsborough stadium.

Get your views in to

Wednesday fan here. I’ve titled my email deliberately, as I’ll explain later.

But I’ll get my little bit of tribalism / stick up for your club out of the way first. I think we should wait and find out what actually did happen in the away end at Hillsborough last Saturday evening (it was Saturday, not Sunday, Ian King – I think accuracy is important here, eh?) before jumping to conclusions. Because there already seems to be a bit of a media bandwagon developing, but I haven’t seen any evidence yet – at the time of writing.

Now that’s out of the way – I absolutely agree with the main gist of Ian King’s article. But there are obviously difficulties involved.

Leppings Lane and Hillsborough are clearly still “trigger” words. Even very recently, I was talking to a Port Vale fan who was going to the match over Christmas and I was giving him directions and telling him whereabouts they’d be in the ground. When I was telling him that he (and his kids) would be in the Leppings Lane end, and it depended on how many Port Vale were taking as to whether they’d be on the lower terrace (albeit seated) or the stand above, I inwardly winced.

But Leppings Lane is the name of a road, and Hillsborough is the name of a suburb where the ground is (as per Anfield or Old Trafford) so they’re not gonna change. Difficulty number one.

And I also absolutely agree about the layout at that end of the ground. I cringe sometimes when I look at it and I can see straight into that tunnel. I think officially we call it the West Stand, not the Leppings Lane End, but I doubt that makes away fans feel any safer. I would really like it to be knocked down and rebuilt.

But we’re currently in the third tier, for the third time since dropping out of the Prem more than 20 years ago. Ouch. So we haven’t got any money, and you would very much struggle to make a case for a revamp of an away end which occasionally attracts around 3,000 on a good day. There’s not even a case for having some home fans in that end, as we’re currently getting 24k ish in a 34k capacity ground. So…..difficulty number two.

I don’t have any answers, just wanted to add some context, hopefully not in the usual tribal manner.
Mark Lewis, SWFC

Read more: Sheffield Wednesday overcrowding revives painful Hillsborough memories and questions

Sportswashing doesn’t work. If it even exists
I’ve written this email in my head several times in recent months, but Father Dave’s email has made me write it for real.

Sportswashing. Is not. A thing.

‘Sportswashing’ is supposed to allow countries with objectionable views to improve their reputation by owning football teams, but whose mind would they be trying to change?

People who don’t follow football won’t notice all the money being spent, and fans of rivals teams will, if anything, hate the country all the more – when Newcastle are winning the quadruple in ten years’ time, no one outside NE1 will be saying “thank heavens for Saudi Arabia and all of its money!”. It’s possible some fans of the club concerned will have a more positive view, but I doubt Saudi Arabia are spending that much money to improve their reputation in the eyes of a few hundred thousand Geordies.

You can try this for yourself – talk to your friends, football team, colleagues, and try to find one person who thinks more favourably of Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia or Qatar since their purchase of football teams. And let me know if you do.

If improving their reputation was really the game, they’d be first in the queue to buy successful, high profile clubs like Liverpool or Manchester United to hitch a ride on their profile. But they’re not – they’re buying Newcastle and Man City (before they got good!) because they know that their investment will be rewarded with a massive increase in the club’s value. So, like everything else in football, it’s really just about the money.
Chris, Birmingham (also THFC, and I’ll happily have Father Dave’s season ticket, even with Qatari investment)


How, Felix?
Joao Felix was brought to get Chelsea into the top four places.

Yet he was immediately sent off, cost them the game and is now banned for another three. At £250k per week and on a £10m loan. Was that the most expensive tackle ever made ?

Hilarious bed-sh*tting by the Portugeezer.

Now that they’re losing more than ever

They’ll keep p*ssing money like no other

60 mill for f*cking cucurella

60 mill for f*cking cucurella

-ella, -ellla, eh, eh, eh
Tom E13


…Speaking as a not Chelsea fan I think they definitely should sack potter and keep buying all the players. It’ll definitely work.

Wout! There he is
Oh! How we’ve missed it. It’s been so long! At last there is a chance. Please, please let it be so. Wout has signed so we may yet see those hallowed written words that no matter who you support we all love to see…”Good feet for a big man”!
Gary (Utd fan in Pennsylvania) B


Dr Pep
Having watched Pep’s City being outplayed by Southampton made me think that he is a Bond villain.

Appreciate he has several competitions to balance but his bizarre selections and formations are akin to keeping Bond alive whilst telling him your plans and then being surprised when it doesn’t work. Plus he is very well backed.

He has two top quality teams in that squad. If he just played his best team for that match in the circumstances he’d win every game. Unless he’s bored and wants to add some fun/excitement/peril.


VAR monkeys
The latest VAR farce has prompted the usual “VAR is awful” debate.

I watch a lot of women’s football on TV, and they don’t have VAR. Guess what? It’s much worse for key decisions that are incorrectly given. Goals standing when the player was miles offside, players hauled down in the penalty box, all very clear in the replays but missed by the ref and the assistants. And these are not rare occurrences, they happen on a fairly regular basis.

So I’m with whoever said the other day that VAR isn’t the problem, the people using VAR need to be better. Let’s get better training for the monkeys in charge
Monkey Steve


Offside solution
I am at a loss to why the obvious solution to the offside issue has not been introduced.

We want to see attacking football, so with that in mind, change the offside law so that if any part of the forward is onside, he is fine. Then all VAR has to do is to see of there is clear water (air) between the attacker and defender, and if not, he is onside, and if there is he is off.

So a player could be half a yard ahead of the defender, but his trailing hand could keep him onside.

Outcome? More goals, fewer disputes and the advantage going to the attacking team.

Job done, a tenner will cover it!

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