Thursday, February 7, 2008

The EPL packs its bags for a vacation!!!

Depressing, jaded, inevitable, much like the thought of another Jamie Kennedy movie. The news came out this morning that the EPL is considering adding an extra game to the English season, with that magic 39th game being played somewhere abroad. Magic. In other news: nothing is sacred.

The powers that be are hungry and aroused at the thought of football's globalization in branding, with this news serving as surely the first point in a long list of wacky, zany ideas to follow. As it stands, the 10 games will be scheduled so as to avoid any two of the biggest 5 or 6 clubs facing each other [presumably in the hopes of setting up a series of 4-0 wins], and then cities around the world get to bid [rather ambiguously] for the right to host.

Sure, it makes fiscal sense, as Mihir Bose points out:

"The growth of the Premier League has been impressive in the last 15 years thanks to the sale of television rights in this country, but now the market in the United Kingdom is becoming saturated and it is the overseas market which is now the big target area."
but what it's come to? Overseas television rights are big business, but the concept of bringing the sport to peoples' doorsteps is a little cynical to me. Remember when the Giants and Dolphins "played" at Wembley Stadium? Or preseason NFL being hosted in Japan? Oh how they clamored and shouted for the chance to see superstars play for 4 drives before ceding way to the walk-ons!

Unsurprisingly, the Football Supporters Federation has jumped all over this story, and surely not just because they think it's an early April Fool:

"The FSF has no doubt whatsoever that the vast majority of supporters are against this, and believe it would drag the Premier League into the realms of farce. When this ludicrous idea was first mooted in October last year, we ran a poll here on our website and a huge majority of supporters - 80% who took the trouble to vote - were in complete opposition to this.

Are we going to see local derbies played in a foreign country thousands of miles away? Are supporters supposed to accept missing the biggest games of their season because it's being played on the other side of the planet? 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."

Couldn't have put it better myself, really.

There is a famous saying that I'll probably butcher right now, but it essentially says that the minute you start to fail is the minute that you stop being yourself, and this is what it seems the EPL is doing. It's taking our product and removing from it the very thing that matters: the people who've spent lifetimes supporting, cheering, investing in it.

Bringing a game like Bolton vs. Blackburn to Bangkok is going to demonstrate nothing, and prove even less, the only beneficiaries being the players' passports and the EPL's ridiculously swollen coffers.

Surely, it should not be countries paying for the privilege of hosting Middlesbrough/West Ham? Shouldn't the EPL be begging the world market and paying them for the chance to take part?

I feel like the EPL makes more than enough money on simply broadcasting the game abroad, and the idea of puppeteering the teams and players on a world stage is ludicrous. Of course, we knew this day was coming, but at what cost?

Thankfully, the lefty Guardian blog agrees with me to a point. Read it up, and offer your equally-depressing visions for the EPL's future in the comments section.

When will we see cheerleaders? TV time-outs? American players? [joke on the last one... sorry folks]


Bigus Dickus said...

You wont be moaning when Liverpool play at the meadowlands!

Lingering Bursitis said...

Now that isn't entirely true, but I'm sure NJ would be outbid by Johannesburg, or Siam, or Timbuktu, or Osaka.

Liverpool vs. Bongo FC -- catch the fever, live this Saturday at Jewel of Oil stadium in Qatar! Live on PPV everywhere else!

Precious Roy said...

I actually think the EPL should drop a couple of teams and be playing FEWER games.

But what do I know?

You want to export/market the game? Bring one of those totally made up pre-season tournaments (the Emirates Cup? Really?) to the US or Mali or Korea.