Tuesday, 20 April 2021
FOOTBALL CRAZY I despair at the standard of journalism and public discourse in this country. Late on Sunday night it was revealed that a dozen top European football clubs, including six from England, were forming a super league. Cue outrage and fury. How dare they do this to our beautiful game? Debates were held in Parliament, the Prime Minister pledged to intervene, my local MP issued a direct appeal to the Government, the news channels, national and local, filled their air time with reaction, comment and analysis. I am writing this on Tuesday morning and do you know what? I am none the wiser about why this matters at all. Even my beloved Channel 4 News failed completely to explain why this development would "ruin grassroots football" which was the cry from all the objectors. The super league will happen on mid-week days and won't clash with the regular league fixtures, which will continue as before. So TV revenue and other income from the Premier League will contine to be trickled down to the rest of the game. Or will it? No one said. What the super league will replace for those taking part is the Champions League. Hence the fury expressed by UEFA, who could see their money-spinner stripped of the clubs most attractive to the world audience. But so what? Why does that matter? Isn't this just another vested interest whingeing? No one told me. The super league was said to have no promotion and regulation. So the same clubs would be in it for all time. This apparently follows and American sport pattern. It means owners can invest in the future without fear of being demoted mid-development. This deplores me. But why does it matter if they want to play the business card? People who watch football can understand the different dynamics involved. If they don't like the Super League format, they can go somewhere else for their entertainmnet. Besides, surely Football has already sold itself to the commercial devil years ago. Complainants cited the community base of football clubs, the fact they were really owned by fans. Give me a break. That hasn't been true for decades. The top six or eight clubs have grown rich and bloated by dumping local connections and just buying the best players in the world. Then they pay them obscene salaries, off the scale when compared to the wages of their supporters. Real local fans, with real jobs can barely afford to watch their teams any longer. I don't see that the Super League makes any difference. When I travelled to Thailand and frequented a down town bar in a remote southern fishing village, I was shocked to see everyone watching the English Premiership on the TV. I even met a Swedish traveller there who knew far more about the top English clubs than I did. Those are the football fans the super league is aimed at. So if any of my contacts reads this blog and knows why there is really any difference made by the Super League, do let me know. No politician or media outlet has so far explained why I should care. All I have heard and read is emotive babble of response. Why does no-one explain anything any more?