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Playing on the Break: Karl Polanyi and the Double-Movement Against Modern Football

While the popularity of English football increases worldwide, there has been a marked rise in the discontent expressed by a small but growing group of domestic fans. This dissent has led to the emergence of a movement broadly defined as being ‘Against Modern Football’ (AMF), a banner under which fans of rival clubs have gathered in an attempt to challenge the poor governance, commercialism and greed that has come to dominate the English game. This article offers a conceptualisation of what it means to be ‘against modern football’ based upon Karl Polanyi’s analysis of the market society. Developing the dialectic of the ‘double-movement’ that appears in Polanyi’s most famous work, The Great Transformation, this article demonstrates how these governing principles might be useful in explaining both the complex cultural political economy of English football and the possibilities that exist for the AMF movement to socially re-embed the modern game.