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Action Replay

Grounds for Appeal

A football stadium used to be a place where, apart from watching the match, you bought a meat pie and a plastic cup of lukewarm tea. But now stadiums are like shopping malls, intended to get the captives (sorry, spectators) spending as much as possible and so make lots of money for the owners.

Recently the super-rich owner of Chelsea Football Club tried and failed to buy the land occupied by the club’s Stamford Bridge ground. This was so he could sell the stadium and move to a larger one on a different site. Ironically, the freehold of the land was owned by supporters who bought £100 shares back in 1993, in a move designed to protect the ground from being snapped up by developers.

Stadiums and their grandstands are often quite out of place among terraced houses and corner shops. But rarely is the contrast quite so stark as at the new motor racing circuit for the Indian Grand Prix, which took place for the first time at the end of October. The circuit cost £130 million to build, amid wasteland and poverty-stricken villages. The workers who built it were not even paid the pittance they were promised and were forced to live in makeshift tents with no sanitation.

Among those who came to watch the grand prix were some of India’s growing capitalist class. As one local hotelier noted, ‘there are lots of billionaires, not just millionaires’. So there were plenty of people able to pay the inflated prices, even while those who did the work were barely able to eat. And that’s just an extreme form of capitalism, not something totally alien to it.

PB