June 02, 2020
English clubs’ ban from European competition, imposed 35 years ago on Tuesday, led to years of isolation until the 1990 World Cup helped to initiate change
Quarantine our sad, sick game: how Heysel tragedy changed English football | Simon Burnton
In May 1985 the Sunday Times published a now-notorious editorial which alleged that British Football was “in crisis: a slum sport played in slum stadiums and increasingly watched by slum people, who deter decent folk from turning up”. That deterrent was reaching peak effectiveness: in the following season top-flight attendances dropped to their lowest level since the first world war, and in the second tier to depths not seen since 1906-07.
If this was English football in the gutter, it had taken more than Heysel and a European football ban to drag it there. Indeed, that Sunday Times editorial was published 10 days before Liverpool and Juventus met in Brussels. Already that season had seen riots involving Luton and Millwall fans in March and the Bradford fire, which led to 56 deaths, on 11 May, among countless lesser known incidents caused by decaying infrastructure or fan violence.
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