Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Point: The Premier League's Foreign Round Plan Is BAD

Ed. Note: This was written by the indomitable Sven of Being Sven... hopefully we shall seem him around these parts more. Find his blog here.

Like a slovenly grade-schooler who's crammed all his cookies down his throat and now hungrily watches the other children eat their delicious treats while the crumbs fall from the corners of his mouth, the Premier League unveiled its utterly ingenious plan to mortgage the future and integrity of its league & clubs for a few more chocolate chips.

In an age where the top tier of English football is as popular as ever and is beamed to every corner of the Earth with streams of cash flooding back in the opposite direction, this week's announcement once again proves that the men who run football are not interested in the touch or bylines (or the good of the game), but merely their own bottom lines.

Firstly, I'm amused/ashamed that the proposal actually uses the word 'auction' -- as in auctioning off the right to host one of the 10 newly created Premier League fixtures. Could they not find a more crass word? While every fan must at least begrudgingly admit that football is both a business and a sport, the clubs and players are certainly not cattle to be put on a block for the highest bidder and the sport & league I love should certainly not be in the business of peddling flesh.

"Come and get it! Step right up! Make your bid for the right to have these little monkeys dance for you and make you some fine coin in the process! All you need is a stadium, some proper infrastructure and a few million quid! Come and get 'em while they're hot!"

This could not be a more deliberate and shameful money grab by the PL. There exists NO other reason for adding another round of matches to the schedule other than just to generate more revenue. You see, some people just can't leave well enough alone. They see the NFL do it while the NBA and MLB talk about it. Why not ruin the perfect symmetry (not to mention common sense) that the home-and-away table provides for a few million more pounds?

Find me one educated person who actually believes that there aren't enough matches on any given fixture list, let alone that it's utterly clogged and actually endangering the game. At a top level English club such as my beloved Liverpool (enter your own 'top level joke' here) you've got 38 league games, two domestic cup competitions and then European club competition (not to mention a likely qualifying round for that, as well... or enter your own 'European club competition' joke here).

And, lest we forget, there is also the matter of the international game, with its endless stream of pointless friendlies and actual tournaments to wedge into the crowded calendar.

That's a shitload of matches to be played. And, when you're one of the world's top leagues (subject to such daunting work permit laws), a good number of your league's players are going to represent their countries. So, not only are we talking about too many games in any given year, you actually have to think about the logistics of traveling the globe in order to play all these games.

Now, why don't we throw another twig on the fire? Why don't we make the players, who already have clocked up thousands of air miles (especially in the summer/preseason months) undergo yet another pointless trek to play in a match that ruins the integrity of one of the world's finest leagues? What could it hurt?

For years, English-based managers have rallied against fixture congestion and even begged for the creation of some sort of Winter Break. While they certainly have their best interests at heart, each and every one of them obviously loves the game and wants what's best for it (with the exception of attractive footy in some cases). So, in it's infinite wisdom (wisdom being spelled g-r-e-e-d in this case), the PL has chosen to rectify the situation by making a mockery of its fixture schedule.

And while I'm a Liverpool fan, the fact that the Top Four wouldn't face each other further (while likely a good idea for LFC) suggests that this dog-and-pony show is merely that, a completely rigged operation sweetened to lure the big dogs over with the promise of a Snausage.

"But, what of the children?! Won't somebody think of the kids?"

I can understand the plight of the foreign fan. Many are unable to travel to England to watch their favorite club live and in person. If only there existed such a mechanism that would allow these clubs to come and play in distant cities, expanding both their and the Premier League's exposure level (not to mention their wallets) whilst giving the fans a real taste of what they yearn for!!

Oh, that's right... they already do. IT'S CALLED THE FUCKING PRESEASON.

What club hasn't already taken advantage of its overseas fanbases by jumping in a jet and hop-scotching around a few countries to play a handful of exhibitions in July and August? (let me rephrase that: What club, that isn't run by fucking idiots, hasn't already taken advantage...) Clubs have been plucking the ripe fruit that are the Asian and North American markets for quite some time. And, as each year goes by, the number of games being played Stateside increases, with bigger names and more illustrious (and some not-so-illustrious) clubs getting in on the act. Now, the Premier League just wants a bigger slice of the pie.

Let's be honest, these proposed games would end up in Asia or North America anyway. Outside of the oil rich Middle East, who else is going to outbid those markets for the games? Because the PL ain't shipping them to Africa for a Showcase in hope of bettering the sport or out of the goodness of their hearts.

You've got to ask yourself three questions. What's the real motivation? What's the upside? And, is it truly worth it?

You know what? I'll answer them for you.




I'll leave you with a quote from a certain blowhard French UEFA Chief:

"The beauty of football is you have some values, you have the teams, you have the fans, you represent something important and you are not a travelling circus."
Look at what you've done, Premier League. It took an idea of the most moronic proportions to make me agree with Michel Platini. I hope you're proud of yourself.


The NY Kid said...

3 points to your point:

(1) Leave Michel Platini alone! He gives, and all you people want is more, more, more.

(2) To be fair, chocolate chips are delicious.

(3) Yes, there is the preseason, but that results in Chelsea vs. LA Galaxy. An Arsenal-ManUre game could sell 100,000 tickets in the US because it would be the only chance for most of the attendees to ever see their team in action against a decent opponent.

Andy Borley said...

@the ny kid

1) Pretty much always, Michel Platini is a cock.

2) Agreed

3) a) With the proposed seeding system, Arse-ManUre isn't going to happen.
3) b) Will Blackburn-Birmingham sell 100,000 tickets in the US? No I don't think so either.