Monday 9 August 2010

The Premiership, Going Nowhere

There will be a number of anchorites, other persons isolated from much of human life, isolates and ladies spending too much time in the kitchen or looking after the kids who are not aware that the English Premiership begins next Saturday.

The rest of us do whether we like it or not. In the welter of media publicity and personal interest stories that we are enduring may I recommend one intriguing source of information of interest to those who love the game and especially to all those who hate it.

It is that tells you much of the real story and what it all now means to all and sundry in the media and politics. Money and power as you might expect. It seems that the ownership of Liverpool FC is being contested by persons from India (thank you Dave), China and Syria with maybe a Soviet, sorry Russian oligarch lurking behind the memorials in Anfield Cemetery.

During the summer we have had the fascinating spectacle of the nation’s new blood sport, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in hot pursuit of many clubs for unpaid taxes and the submission of accounts apparently written by the many ghost writers of footballers’ biographies rather than accountants.

It seems that until this year the HMRC have been generous, even lax, in looking at the tax affairs and liabilities of clubs and have suddenly tightened up. There were some spectacular cases before that they could not avoid, albeit arriving very late on the scene. Why I wonder, surely not political pressure from the Government? It is possible that one or other clubs could simply close down, as do many other business firms in trouble.

Rather like the courtiers who hung around the courts of the Medici and the Borgia’s there are administrators from the Big Four and others waiting up on their toes for the next victim of their services. Which club may survive? Which may lose enough points to wreck their season? Which famous name will begin the descent to the football abyss of The Championship and beyond because they lost the Great Gamble of spending to win?

Yougov have asked my opinion of all this. Usually, I do my best to mislead them and skew their results, but this time I weakened and gave some honest answers. Yes, I do want Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United to be relegated. Yes Blackpool should be champions and Scunthorpe United promoted. I will be out of luck. The real issue is whether the huge funds put into Manchester City will finally pay off.

It is all a long time since I first stood on the terrace of a football ground as a little ‘un. One of the grounds of my childhood was Anfield. I recall asking my Uncle why it was called “Spion Kop” (you can look at Google or Bling). He pointed to an ancient propping up the wall and told me to ask him. He explained in brutal terms what it meant. He had been there in January 1900. The lesson I learned was that football at the top was not entirely just a game.

Now it has long been a business of various kinds. No longer can I have a pint with one of the team in the local pub’. I would have to elbow my way through the entourage at a very expensive night club. The player would not longer live over a shop with his parents. He would be in a vast mansion in Prestbury ruining the local economy by spending anywhere but in the village.

The question for those of us with beady eyes looking at where the money is coming from and where it actually goes is whether the whole thing is a financial “bubble”. Is the money coming in for lack of safe places for investment? It is unlikely to be sustainable in the future.

What may happen if suddenly people actually begin to lose interest? I have not been to a match for years now for reasons of cost. My viewing of TV is becoming less and less by the season. What I do notice is the lack of young faces in the crowds. Are viewers watching now more by default or because they think they are supposed to?

There are very many things from the time I first went to a game that have changed in England and The World. Others have come and gone. So I wonder how long the present set up can last and when the collapse will begin and if it will be fast or slow.

Like steam railways it might just run into the buffers.

1 comment:

  1. Since it's not only the shirts that get laundered in footie you can rest assured that it will survive a very long time.