Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Friday, 15 February 2008

One Step To Stopping Game 39

If you're a football fan, it's coming to something when you're relying on FIFA President Sepp Blatter to fight your corner.

This is the man who is famous for having some spine-chilling ideas, such as making the goalposts bigger, abolishing draws and saying that women footballers should wear tighter shorts (no, really, he did). So when a scheme is so utterly dreadful that even he can't back it, you know it must have been a real stinker. Step forward, the FA Premier League.

My interest in the top flight in English football has never truly recovered from Wimbledon being relegated in 2000. To me it's full of over-paid, cheating brats and is too predictable for its own good. But the idea of introducing a 39th game, to be played on foreign soil, is so reprehensible it just has to be stopped. Put aside for a moment how it might be perceived within the hosting countries (badly, by all accounts). And put aside too the problems it gives for the fans who like to go to watch their teams play if the authorities suddenly drop on their heads the little problem of getting somewhere like Melbourne. This idea strikes at the very heart of league football, a core principle of which is that everyone plays each other twice, once at home and once away. That's what makes it the ultimate test of quality, the way of finding the best team. Introduce an additional game, the pairings drawn out of a hat (in such a way so as to favour the top five, of course) and you throw in a random element of potential unfairness which will, unquestionbly, decide issues surrounding relegation, European qualification and even the title itself.

The Premier League long since stopped caring about the supporters and arguably about the integrity of the game. What they're interested in is profit. That's fine in most businesses, but in football fascination with money alone is a dangerous thing. You risk destroying the nature of the game and with it, its long term well-being. Football is already endangered in this country. Young fans are priced out of going to games which means they'll never get into the habit of watching their team. Years down the line that's going to have a potentially disastrous effect on attendances. Now here's another scheme that isolates football from its followers. It simply mustn't happen.

Sepp Blatter's done us a favour, for once, by coming forward and saying that as long as he's President of FIFA, this will not be allowed. Good for him. It says a lot about the Premier League that they've come up with somethingso bad, even Blatter can see that it's a non-starter.

1 comment:

Jonathan Saunders said...

All very well said.

For once, someone has put their foot down on the richer clubs. It is a shame, though, that more notice was not taken when Wimbledon were moved.


A Wycombe fan.