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Wednesday 28 January 2015

Solent visited by former Saints boss

The hotly anticipated visit by David Dein and former Saints boss Lawrie McMenemy took place on 21 January against a backdrop of enthusiasm from students and staff alike.
As former vice-chairman of Arsenal Football Club and former vice-chairman of the FA, very little went on in the world of football without the knowledge of David Dein.

Three decades ago the world of football was not receptive to change. David faced many challenges and he was instrumental in moving things forward and breaking down barriers, ultimately making football the game it is today. .He recalls suggesting (albeit unsuccessfully) that the number of substitutes be increased from one to two. ‘We can’t do that’ was the response, ‘it will mean another bonus, another hotel room, another meal’.

He suggested increasing half time to 15 minutes so that people had time to get some refreshments or take a comfort break.

He was instrumental in introducing goal line technology and the more recent initiative of painting a line for free kicks.

David said: “I follow the motto of the turtle – you don’t get anywhere in this world if you don’t stick your neck out.”

The biggest change he was involved in however was in 1992 when the top tier of the football league broke away to become the Premier League.

Back in the 1980s, he explained, there was a period when football was not shown on television for six months – something that would be unthinkable today. The reason was that football had become associated with hooliganism. Women were frightened to go to matches and even more concerned about their children attending.

Greg Dyke, then Chief Executive at London Weekend Television, sat down with the management of the five top clubs of the day: Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Everton. Collectively they decided a new way forward. The rest, as they say, is history.

Last week, on the day after David’s visit, accountants Deloitte published the Football Rich List of the top 40 clubs in the world. All 20 clubs from England’s Premier League featured. A success story then?

For David the biggest success is in the detail.

Attendance is superb, risen from an average of 21,000 to 36,000. These numbers will increase further as clubs build new stadiums with larger capacity and, with many clubs having a waiting list for season tickets, all the signs are that the average is likely to exceed 40,000.

Most stadiums regularly achieve occupancy of 96%.

A quarter of attendees are female.

39% are aged 18-34.

Football bonds people, David explained, it breaks down barriers. There are now two billion viewers watching the Premier League not only here in the United Kingdom but all over the world.