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What is actually IMPORTANT about football?

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Comments made on Twitter by Accrington owner Andy Holt got our man David Holloway thinking: what is actually important about football, whether you support a Sunderland or a Stanley - is it sitting at the top table, or being well ran?

Accrington Stanley FC

Yesterday morning Andy Holt - the owner of Accrington Stanley - had a rant on twitter that got me wondering about what this game of ours is actually all about.

Is it the magic of the Champions League semi-finals last week, where the world watched in awe at some brilliant football played by some of the best footballers in the world? To be lucky enough to be a fan of a club and able to watch (live) that level of football must be wonderful for those who can, but it’s just a dream for most. It is certainly about that for the kids, for the sofa fans and for those who watch for pure entertainment.

But what can it mean when you can’t get to the final, whether that be in Madrid or in the case of the Europa League, Baku? I am sure that it was the intention of those who created these competitions that they would improve standards, pitting the best against the best, but was it their intention that the competitions would become corporate entertainment events which are inaccessible to most fans to watch either live or on terrestrial TV?

Commercial gain is clearly now what that level of football is all about.

We have now experienced a full season in what has traditionally been called a “lower league” and I write this before the conclusion of our play off semi-final. Sunderland against Portsmouth would have been a match between two giants of the game in the era just before the European competitions started. Sadly the supporters of those clubs - like most supporters - no longer watch football at the top table.

The first leg of the play off semi-final as a spectacle and in terms of quality clearly had nothing on the Liverpool vs Barcelona match. However the intensity of the play, the sh*thousery and brutal effort of the footballers involved was fantastic to watch, as entertaining to me as a flick and a trick in the Champions League. It sometimes feels like a different sport, and it is certainly a different world from those competing in the Champions League. Such games are about guts, bravery, effort, blood, sweat and tears, and our first leg gave us that in abundance - that’s what it is all about for me.

Sunderland as a club and we as fans have been humbled by this season’s experience. We have seen smaller clubs over perform against us week in week out - this has been frustrating but also a strange joy. The grotesque excesses of the Premier League days are ancient history now; that’s not what it is about that at this level.

Andy Holt had some very interesting thoughts. Holt seems like a straight talker and is a man of many words, but the message in his twitter thread yesterday morning rang many truths and got me thinking. What is important about football?

Is it the glitz and glam of the Champions League or the raw passion and intensity of a League One play off, or the community spirit and the over achievement against all the odds of an Accrington Stanley?

The hard work and passion of people operating at League One level and below is a lesson to all, and that is surely what it is all about.

The real answer, however, must be that football is about all of the above. Accrington can’t live without battling Sunderland, Sunderland cant live without the hope of one day battling Liverpool again and Liverpool cant live without battling Barcelona.

The targets of Holt in his twitter storm, the Premier League, The EFL, The FA and the PFA must look at his wise words and then closely at themselves and ensure that they do much much more to balance the needs of all football clubs so that the beautiful game can continue to bring joy at all levels.