Wednesday, 13 February 2008
After the Villa game I've been in a state of shock (no, not that I won a bet, but at the awful display), so I haven't commented (yet) on the 39th game proposals. For those who have had their head in a bucket over the last few weeks, the Premier League is suggesting that an extra game is played each season overseas (presumably further away than the Isle of Man or Holy Island).
This is a overtly money making exercise, aimed at exploiting the 'product' in foreign markets like US, Far East and Middle East. What this ignores is that football in England is a tribal game. Just like all those who trekked to Villa more in hope than anticipation (see the picture) - most of the fun is in the journey rather than the result (well, it has certainly been the case this season) its all part of the away game experience that makes it so enjoyable. No doubt we'd sell a few away tickets in Kuala Lumpur ... but how many of the lads above would be able to go?
The Football Fans Federation has set up a No to Game 39 site and has said
What makes English football unique and so attractive is the passion and vibrancy of the crowd. Trying to recreate that elsewhere is as pointless as trying to experience of London by walking around the old London Bridge in the Arizona desert.
I get the point (although not since Shearer's testimonial has SJP been vibrant) and agree with it to an extent. What really got up my nose was the pompous Richard Scudamore on 5Live saying that it will only affect about 3000 fans per game... For a start I don't know where he got that figure from (unless he means the number of mackems that turn up to an average game at the stadium of plight) and secondly it won't - it'll affect a lot more. Much as I'd like to see the Toon play in Sydney, my purse will only let me go as far as Stoke.
But, I bet that something will happen - eventually. Its been coming for a while, threats of breakaway leagues, the slightly sinister G14 clubs and most of all the lucrative lure of the Champions League. Game 39 might not happen, but the Premier League will find some way of prostituting itself on a worldwide basis - on its ever more urgent quest for more money.