Tag Archives: Premier League

Ah! That’s Champion(ship / League, but only the latter part)!

Apologies for the use of the first person throughout this post, but something has been niggling at me.

I felt a little ashamed in being a Manchester United fan yesterday afternoon. While sat next to an avid Stoke fan, it made me realise that the Premier League is severely lacking in one, important aspect that makes football the game that endears so many – spontaneity.

The Championship’s denouement was one of those special afternoons in football. It left you lost, perplexed, and yet, you didn’t care – clarity wasn’t necessary. You just went along with the journey, wondering where you would end up at the end. For the neutral, there’s no finer feeling (it is maybe why the play-offs tend to be the best games all season); for the Stoke, Leicester and Southampton fans, it was perhaps of a sort of masochistic torture.

Ever since that momentous FA Cup quarter-final between Barnsley and Chelsea, Mick McCarthy’s comments in the post-match analysis have stuck with me. Fans of Barnsley have experienced Premier League football, relegation, more relegation, promotion, and now the FA Cup in the space of ten years.

Excitement and despair, those two feelings so closely aligned with one another, consistently experienced by Barnsley fans. As he put it, it’s exciting to be a Barnsley fan, because the spontaneity is always there.

This is not the case with the Premier League, with one of the top four guaranteed to win the division and claim those Champions League spots. Supporting a team like United means that the result is almost predictable week-in, week-out.

When the unpredictable does happen, it’s almost treated with distain by some United fans; the prospect of losing means that everything they’ve bought into has been demolished completely – like losing does not happen for those supporting what is once again the richest club in the world. Well it does, and at times (and dare I say it), it’s a refreshing change.

This is why as a United fan, I live for the Champions League more than the Premier League;  for a start, the Premier League doesn’t force me into a nervous, drunken stupor like last Tuesday. My appetite for the European Cup isn’t just in terms of the history United have with ol’ Big Ears, but because it’s where that sense of unpredictability is most likely to be (in the latter rounds, anyway; the group stage feels like an irrelevance at times). The quest for another European Cup is what feeds me more than another  almost-certain Premier League title.

However, today’s game between Newcastle and Chelsea is intriguing: Newcastle, the masters of spontaneity within the Premier League over the last two decades, could unexpectedly hand the title to United if they beat Chelsea this afternoon; yet a Chelsea win will make next Sunday a day of relevance, even if it may be only slight. I’m not sure which one I want.

Even so, it’s very easy for me to write the above – I know that all too well. But I guess there is something that United for once lack, which most other clubs at least have. Perhaps this is why I’ve gone to a lot of Stockport County games this season.

God, I’m confused.

David.

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Filed under Barclays Premier League, Chelsea, Comment, England, English Premier League, Football, Football League - League 2, Football League Championship, Leicester City, Newcastle United, Opinion, Soccer, Southampton, Sport, Stockport County, Stoke City, The Football League, UEFA Champions League

We’re back! / Twenty20 and its dependence on football

So, after the bane of University work hindering my chances of writing, I’m pleased to say that for the foreseeable future at least, The Sight is in End will finally resume its normal service.

The reason why I haven’t written much is that I didn’t want to hastily churn something out that I wasn’t particularly happy with, simply to keep having content on the blog. Now, that may seem counter-productive since yes, a blog should be updated regularly in order to keep its audience et ceteras, but I’m not a fan of that school of thought.

Let it come to pass that if it means taking weeks out and then writing one or two decent things, then that’ll do me (and hopefully, you). Anyway, I’ve gone on too much.

Before this year, I bet hardly anyone had heard the name Allan Stanford. A multi-billionaire Texan who has been based in Antigua for over two decades, in 2005 he announced he would set up an inter-Caribbean Twenty20 tournament in the hope that he could use the format to revitalise West Indian cricket, and therefore becoming one of cricket’s most important in the process.

Three years later, and Stanford has done just that. Australia had Kerry Packer; India have the deflated ICL creator, Kapil Dev; now England and the WI have their own equivalent.

Stanford promises $10 million Twenty20 matches between a West Indies All-Star XI and England, as well as tournaments at Lord’s that would allow two additional Test playing nations to compete alongside the WI and England, have wooed the ECB into taking him incredibly seriously. All this talk has allowed him to become the man at the heart of the English equivalent to the IPL.

Stanford has promised substantial financial backing for an English-equivalent, providing it arrives within the next two years. After that, he says, the opportunity will have disappeared.

For an English IPL to happen, it’s likely that for Twenty20, counties will have to amalgamate, with Lancashire, Yorkshire and Durham theoretically put together to form a Northern side. I would have loved to have seen Geoff Boycott’s reaction to that.

However, the often ECB attitude of cynicism and ignorance seems to have been put aside; and as seen with the BSkyB Test-match deal, money is the subject that always pricks their ears (don’t let me stop you using the Joe Orton anagram in “ears”, by the way).

All this promise of millions on single matches is nothing when you think that when the English IPL eventually comes to fruition, he could be tapping into a worldwide market worth around $500 million. Twenty20, Stanford says, has the potential to become the biggest game in world sport, surpassing football in the process.

They sound like the remarks of a deluded idiot willing to gamble millions; but with the support of the Asian sub-continent, he could have a point.

Yet Stanford’s talk of overtaking football is forgetting one thing: that Twenty20 is clinging to football. As well as the game itself being easily digestible and over in a couple of hours, it’s everything else that surrounds it that makes you realise that Twenty20 depends on today’s version of football in order to advance. The examples aren’t implicit either — they’re down right blatant.

The TV presentation, the red tunnels, the floodlights, the glamour, the kits made by Reebok and Adidas and Nike, the LED advertising boards, cricketers marketed as stars and given a ‘bought’ through an auction, and the use of the footballing lexicon (Indian Premier League) and talk of a Twenty20 Champions League (that will probably have its own classically-inspired theme-tune (with a hint of tabla) featuring”The Champions!” sung in English, English (with a hint of Caribbean), Afrikaans, Bangla, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Sinhala and Tamil).

This is all rhetoric, and the effect of it can be seen by how the IPL is a serious plaything for the wealthy akin to the Premier League. Not only have the fans succumbed to the rhetoric, but the wealthy Bollywood stars and millionaires have as well — and how. Football, or specifically the Premier League, has made sport the ultimate plaything that can yield profit and bring more publicity for them.

It seems that where football is going, Twenty20 is following. Whether it could be the other way round in years to come? Doubt it.

David.

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Filed under Barclays Premier League, Cricket, ECB, England, English Premier League, India, Indian Cricket League, Indian Premier League, IPL, Kerry Packer, Opinion, Sport

FA now against Premier League plan

The Premier League’s plan on taking the league global is falling apart at the seams. The FA have now come out against the plan and, as alluded to on The Sight is in End, the potential damage to newly-(re)formed relationships with federations and the possible effect it could have on their World Cup bid have been deciding factors.
In a statement, they said:
“The Football Association has worked extremely hard for several years to improve our relationships and standing with Fifa and Uefa.”

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Filed under Barclays Premier League, CONCACAF, England, English Premier League, FA, FIFA, Football, News, Soccer, Sport, UEFA

Fifa say ‘nay’ to Premier League global plan, but we enter a worrying period

Sepp Blatter has said that the Premier League’s international round will not be going ahead. He has also issued what is practically a threat, saying that were the Premier League to go-ahead with the plan, England’s 2018 World Cup bid would be affected.

With UEFA, the AFC and now FIFA opposing the plan, it seems unlikely that it will happen. Yet this sets up a battle that could well turn very nasty, and could marginalise English football from the rest of the world. Richard Scudamore has come out and said that if they receive backing from the FA, it will go ahead.

If that happens, the consequences could be damaging, and will finally confirm something that has long been pondered: that the national game is secondary to the process of profiteering and promoting a valuable product. Indeed, were the Premier League to implement the plan, it would now probably affect the value of its prized commodity.

Yet this could raise the club vs. country row again, except this time it could take a more unsavoury and potentially harmful air. If the Premier League went against FIFA, where would players loyalties lies? With their employers, or with the law-maker? It would likely be the former.

It could, in some ways, be the equivalent of the Kerry Packer/World Series Cricket saga of the 70s, where players are torn between two sides: the PL, seeking more money in a supposed quest to advance their national game; and FIFA, the body there to protect world football (of course, where it does is the matter for a separate debate altogether). Players being forced to choose sides, and players being ostracised.

In 2000, the FA got the biggest shock possible when it realised how out of touch it was with world football, after England’s World Cup 2006 bid failed to get to the final round. Since then, it has worked hard to build bridges throughout the footballing world, to a point where it is now favourite to get the 2018 World Cup.

Even the CONCACAF chief Jack Warner, after originally being heavily against the bid and saying that he would do everything to make sure it failed, has now suddenly come out in favour. The Premier League’s plan threatens this newly-created relationship between the FA, the other NFAs and confederations.

It is time the Premier League ditched the idea. It was once rather funny and foolish in all honesty, but now it’s extremely threatening and deeply concerning. This has transcended taking clubs abroad for a game, raising more revenue and upsetting fans who will, in all probability, show apathy for a few weeks and nothing else; this can now irrevocably damage the game in this country, and leave a deep and ugly scar.

David.

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Filed under AFC, Barclays Premier League, Comment, CONCACAF, Cricket, England, English Premier League, FA, FIFA, Football, Football League, Jack Warner, Kerry Packer, Richard Scudamore, Sepp Blatter, Soccer, Sport, UEFA

Like the Harlem Globetrotters? — Premier League goes global debate continues

Harry Redknapp’s come out with a corker of a comment concerning the proposed international round, saying that Premier League sides are in danger of becoming something “like the Harlem Globetrotters.”

All I can now envisage is ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ (that’s the tune you often hear in the background while they’re on television — you’ll know the one I mean…) being played while Christiano Ronaldo wows a crowd in Tokyo with his supreme skills — and afro hair-do.

Meanwhile, Roy Keane has surprisingly come out in favour of the proposal. That’s if he gets to play one of the big sides, that is…

David.

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Filed under Barclays Premier League, England, English Premier League, FA, Football, Harry Redknapp, Portsmouth FC, Roy Keane, Soccer, Sport, Sunderland FC

Going global, but not to Acapulco…yet? Premier League consider ‘international round’

The inevitable has happened. After the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants successfully (ruined Wembley’s pitch, some would say…) brought the NFL over here, the Premier League have announced that they are considering an ‘international round’ of fixtures. Although why mention ‘consider’ is anyone’s guess. To announce they’re considering it seems like a euphemism. All twenty Premier League clubs have agreed to the proposal.

The Premier League season would be extended to 39 games, could involve extra travelling for already exhausted players, and adds an extra air of gravitas to a league that is now going truly global.

The Premier League are walking a fine tight-rope. Many fans complain that ticket prices are still too high, yet clubs have provisionally agreed to take the game away from them, rather than trying to take it closer to fans. As Mihir Bose, the BBC sports editor so rightfully put it, “it’s chance for the Premier League to showcase its product around the world.”

Don’t forget, though, that the Premier League have actually flirted with this idea for a very long time. The Premier League Asia Cup must now be officially viewed as a yearly experiment to gauge the popularity of the English game abroad. It’s obvious the Premier League were happy with the results.

This move shows the power of the new batch of Premier League owners. American investors like the Glazers, Hicks and Gillette, want to see a return on their investment as soon as possible. By taking their franchises (a term that I think we’ll need to get used to as time progresses…) global, it makes it more likely that this will happen sooner.

But what this also shows is how powerful other nations have become to the future of English top-flight football. By taking the game abroad, the Premier League assures its survival for time to come. It can bank on continued TV deals at mesmurising costs, and will definitely ensure that it gets the best players in the world from Asia, the Middle East and North America — the three big continents where Premier League football is most popular.

I’m sure we’ll have much more to say on the matter in due course.

Imagine if relegation fights or championship battles were eventually decided in a city thousands of miles away, though? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

David.

   

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Filed under Barclays Premier League, BBC, Comment, England, English Premier League, FA, FIFA, Football, NFL, Soccer, Sport