Fanzines | I’ll tell you who we play tomorrow … for a fiver

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Watford, England | Everything in soccer, it seems, is for sale. In the U.K. this includes fixture lists, the calendar that football authorities produce to establish who plays whom on what day. Some non-revenue-producing, independently produced fanzines have fallen afoul of the regulations. The Guardian mentions the case of Watford FC Web-based chroniclers “Blind, Stupid and Desperate” (http://www.bsad.org/), who were taken to task by solicitors at DataCo, designated trackers of the copyrighted information, for having failed to pay the £266 plus value-added tax that is assessed for printing the game schedule of one English club. The website operators, Ian Grant and Matthew Rowson, reproduce the correspondence, including their sarcasm-laced reply after DataCo forced the site off the hosting servers.

We hope that it gives you a great deal of satisfaction to bully ordinary football supporters into reluctant and resentful submission, earning a wage by pursuing those who give their time, effort and creativity without seeking recompense. The slightly ironic beauty of your victory, of course, is that we no longer have the power to remove the fixture list, since we no longer have access to the website upon which it is hosted. Should we succeed in having the site restored, we will have no alternative but to comply with your demands, despite it being very evident that these demands are based upon highly dubious and contentious legality. Naturally, we understand that such legality is irrelevant in the current situation, as you have lots of money and we have none; again, we trust that this makes you very happy.

Clubs earned copyright over the schedules in 1959, when the Football League sued a company printing fixtures on pools coupons. Sale of the information has become a reliable money-maker for smaller clubs, despite a European Court of Justice ruling last year that bars authorities from charging for what should be publicly available.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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