Friday, February 08, 2008

McPremiership - The Day Football Ate Itself Whole

The morning after the story first landed you still can't believe it is quite true. Yes the Premiership wants to go international and lo behold any fan that stands in the way. Described brilliantly by Twohundredpercent as the day that the top echelon of the game jumped the shark as a season ticket holder it begs me to ask:

1. In what other sport is a season long league table decided by an odd number of games?
None that I am aware of and certainly not one where there is a risk that some teams will be forced to play a greater proportion of their games against the top performing teams. It will no longer be a level playing field. Is it fair that one team will face Manchester United three times, while others play them only twice? Is it right that the top five sides may be seeded to avoid meeting each other? No.

2. Why not the FA Cup Final or the Charity Shield game?
This is what I don't get? With the top 4 appearing in what feels like the last 30 odd finals, wouldn't this game satisfy the thirst of the overseas punters? These finals, are to some extent, exhibition one off games. That to me seems more logical than unsettling the format of the league.

3. When the Premiership bubble bursts will the clubs turn to the fans again to support them and more importantly will the fans still be there?
Disenfranchised and constantly over charged for a mediocre product, why should we continue to bail clubs out? The very fans that have invested in clubs, that have ploughed increasing amounts into the club coffers with little in return, whilst the players live off the fat of the land, will one day say enough is enough. For too long the clubs (at most levels) have taken the piss quite frankly and perhaps the one good that will come from this hair brain scheme is that this will be the one step that is too far. The growing support for the AFC Wimbledons of this world shows that pushed enough, fans will walk.

4. Why does the English league need to break into the four corners of the globe?
This for me is the most puzzling part. Football is the global game, the beautiful game, the game that the media constantly tells us is played in the streets around the world. Why then does it need to be packaged and (re)sold to the globe? They already get it. The NFL game at Wembley last year is a slightly different argument as this was an attempt to spread the love of the game in the most impactful, financially viable method. That one game did more than any Euro NFL league had done in 10 years. Football on the other hand does not to be sold.

5. Will Blackburn v Reading really be a thriller in Manilla?
I very much doubt it and if not then the financial gulf between the top 4 and the rest threatens to grow even more. Which, as we have seen, will serve to only make the Premiership more of a predictable commodity.

6. Will the money generated be put back into the clubs?

To date I have seen little evidence that this is the case. Arsenal, fueled by numerous Champion's League outings, move to a bigger ground and simply charge more than before. There is no practice from even the likes of Watford to display that savings are passed to fans. We simply cough up to cover ever increasing outgoings.

7. Shouldn't overseas fans be considered?
In a word, no. I have seen games in La Liga, Serie A, The Bundeslegia and The Scottish Premier League and each time I have taken my chances and queued with the fans. I didn't jump the queue because I happened to be part of a culture obbessed with having the latest replica kit. Pre Season friendlies have increasingly tapped into foreign markets. Why can't that be the opportunity that these fans get?

8. Don't footballers already play too many games?
So on one hand the various chairmen and managers complain of fixture congestion and exhausted playing staff and then when the dollar comes a knocking that argument is conveniently set aside and buried. You can't have your cake and eat it guys. To be honest I've never bought the too many fixtures complaint. They are athletes for Pete's sake. Get on with it.

So what can we do?
We must protest simply put. Take a look at how
See how disillusioned fans really are and then remind clubs, owners and the like just who is the lifeblood of these footballing institutions. The Football Supporters Federation have come out with a strong response and I urge fans to follow suit and demonstrate the lunacy of this idea.

“Let’s face facts, the sole motivation for this is the Premier League to make more money – aren’t they making enough already? “This displays a complete disregard for the proud traditions of the English game, as well as a crass lack of consideration for football supporters in general. Basically, it’s a case of “We’ve had their money here, now – where else can we get people to put their hands in their pockets.


Will said...

Get that soap box out, JP!
Power to the people.

Have to agree though - as suggested it seems totally unworkable.

David J said...

Couldn't agree more. Maybe the odd demonstration match if the Clubs themselves want it, (or better still a proper tour by an individual club) but not this.