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You Just Don't Get It, Do You?

In an edition of twenty questions last February, I asked the following question.

"We all know that the idea of a 39th league game held abroad is completely unworkable. The Premier League must have known that it would be hugely unpopular. It seems the authorities are purporting a ridiculous idea, knowing it will be shot down to make way for a slightly less insane plan. The question is, what is the real proposition going to be here?"

Well if reports this morning are anything to go by, the Premier League has hatched the embryonic phase of the real plan evil. Coincidentally, six months to the day that the much maligned '39th Game` plan was touted to the embarrassment and chagrin of most, the plan seems to have been 'moderated.` (Note the deliberate use of inverted commas). Now we are being fronted with the much less radical, yet no less solicitous idea of miniature tournaments being hosted during a 12 day winter break. Cities in Africa, Asia, North America and Australia would bid for the right to host five four team mini tournaments in the twelve days following the third round of the F.A. Cup. Now, being that I spent £12,000 pursuing a qualification in English Literature, it is only right that my lexicon should be in advance of your average Premier League bigwig. But am I exposing intellectual snobbery when I question the use of the word "break" in this missive? To us mere mortals, the idea of jetting off to Australia or Asia for twelve days may represent a very welcome break indeed. But for an athlete, jetting them off thousands of miles to play two games in a twelve day period, together with the necessary time zone adaptations and heavy legs, does not seem to represent much of a "break" to me. Without wishing to go all Countdown on your ass Mr. Scudamore, I think the word "bank" was probably more in tune with what you are thinking.

Scudamore`s psyche is more transparent than a Danielle Lloyd dress, that this idea is ever so slightly more palatable than interrupting the integrity of the league campaign is supposed to have us all mopping our collective brows and consenting to a lesser evil. Basically, the Premier League are insulting every single one of us by dismissing our powers of logic. (We live under the rule of politicians Mr. Scudamore; we know a filthy lie when we see one). Placing the words "winter break" and "mini tournament" within the framework of the same idea is something of an oxymoron (you see, that £12k is being put to good use). The real weight behind the idea arrives in the shape of the alleged £5m prize money for the clubs participating, which will doubtless be liberated from the pockets of "the overseas demographic" as it were. Yet this week, Manchester United played Portsmouth in Nigeria in a friendly precursor to the Community Shield, only 28,000 spectators filed into a 60,000 stadium to watch the match. The reason for the underwhelming attendance may well have been due in no small part to the ticket price band, with the equivalent of £40-£100 being charged for tickets. That represents the equivalent of 2/3 of a month`s wages for the average earner in Lagos; the mind boggles as to the prohibitive pricing that would have been imposed on the game if some imagined importance had been attached to it. There`s a lesson there for overseas supporters who believe hosting English matches abroad will give you a chance to watch your team, the prices you will be charged (assuming you are a corporate type, if you are not, you will not be getting tickets, trust me) will probably be comparable to the price for a flight to England!

This money will be earned/ extracted at the expense of indigenous leagues trying hard to build their own reputations, at the expense of players who will have to travel thousands of miles in the middle of an already jam packed calendar, thus diminishing the quality of the league overall. The idea completely discounts the prospect of the African Nations, which takes place during the month of January and how that will be surmounted. This idea also shows utter contempt for clubs in the Championship, who will watch the fiduciary gap widen further. If this idea is allowed to come to fruition, we will possibly never see a club promoted to the Premiership and survive ever again, making the league even more repetitive and predictable than it already is. We are already in a situation whereby fans of most clubs are increasingly disillusioned, whilst ticket sales at Old Trafford (despite a dramatic reduction in the season ticket waiting list since Glazer increased prices by 50%), Anfield and the Emirates may well be healthy, the likes of Ewood Park, Riverside Stadium and JJB Stadium have tumbleweed in the aisles despite the respective clubs being at zeniths in their club`s history. Monotony is not an attractive proposition and increasing the likelihood of it hardly sound business nous. But with a global economic downturn, Premier League television money and Champions League advertising all wrung dry, Scudamore and his ilk will look for newer and more innovative ways to milk the cash cow. Ultimately, it will bite him in the arse when supporters of clubs in the middle tier of a schismatic league get tired and sack it all off altogether. But there`s no point in trying to reason with the avarice of the Premier League in words, it`s the numbers that are doing all of the talking here.LD.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday August 4 2008

Time: 1:51PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
As a money making machine the PL is a success already. Someone once said if you give fools success it sometimes makes them more foolish.
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04/08/2008 14:01:00

Great article. About time the prem realised that supports are not stupid.
Report Abuse
04/08/2008 14:01:00

Well said mate. Scudamore is in the same category as your pini zahavis, peter kenyons and Adebayors. Money grabbing weasels.
Report Abuse
04/08/2008 14:19:00

Great article again Tim. Absolutely agree with you, its just a money spinning re-working of the 39th game idea to try to make it more favorable to fans, but they just don't see that it still isn't. If it does go ahead its all very well having Arsenal v Man Utd as there are plenty of fans of both teams about, but how many people would go to see Hull v Stoke? With the economic climate as it is, very few people will leave the UK, however much they love the club, to see there team play in a crappy tournament. Apparently we are looking at approaching Scudamore to be our new CEO. Maybe this might be a good idea. Stop him from causing damage to our national sport for his own financial gain as if he tried to do that at Arsenal, the board would not approve!
Report Abuse
04/08/2008 14:52:00

The hierarchies really have the most pathetic ideas. They certainly don't care about the spirit of the game. It's just another marketing program for them and they if they don't make this one stick, they'll look for another way to get their hands on all that disposable income around the world screaming out to be spent. What is the FA saying while all this is going on? Are they going to wait to see if the Premier League gets fractured by a breakaway before they speak up? Everyone is acting dumb and wilfully ignoring their priorities. Instead of mouthing off at Arsenal for their lack of local players, why don't they get the Premier greed league to contribute something real and useful?
Report Abuse
04/08/2008 15:16:00

Just to clarify LD, was it 12K for your course? ;-)
Bergkamp was a Myth
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04/08/2008 18:43:00

The thing that strikes me about this continuing search for a new idea to milk more money from football is that they're overestimating just how much money they'll get from overseas audiences. They're forgetting that the majority of all those foreign fans live in poor countries. What the football calendar needs is LESS FOOTBALL not more. Esp. less meaningless football like friendlies. I'm an overseas fan but no one put a gun to my head to support Arsenal and watch the PL (or La Liga, Ligue 1, etc.). If I want to watch Arsenal play, I have to go to England or some other European venue when they play CL matches. It's not like being a fan of some movie star or singer.
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04/08/2008 18:52:00

Football will be on the wain soon anyway. The thing is in 15/20 years Arsenal will be playing in front of less than capacity crowds. Football matches are a much older crowd these days. There are only a fraction of kids that go now than used to; they/their parents just simply can't afford it. All the people that I go with and follow Arsenal around Europe with are the 11 year olds I used to stand with in the corner of the Clock End. We grew up with together, we travelled up and down the country from the age of 12/13 onwards. The younger generation now go with their dads, they can't mix with other kids in the ground because the stadium is all seated. A lot of them only go because of parental pressure and will stop going at 16/18 when they will associate it with being a day out with their dad when they want a day out with their friends/girlfriends. They won't want to go to a match with people not the same age as them, they will do other things with people the same age as them. Perhaps people know this and are trying to screw every penny that they can out of the game now, hence the games abroad, only a view, I know it's negative...I'll sit back and wait for the abuse now! ;-)
Bergkamp was a Myth
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04/08/2008 19:37:00

To clarify, yes £12k. Your other point is one I've made here time and again, young kids can't afford £40-£50 a game,so we're creating a culture where people are being weened on football away from the stadium and in the living room. The average age of the season ticket holder at Arsenal is probably mid forties. It's telling that the guys I go to away games with are a lot older than me. Of our group, all of the guys my age can't afford away games anymore. It's not sustianable at all.
Little Dutch
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04/08/2008 19:45:00

I thought this had gone away. Does anyone who is actually a football fan think this is a good idea in any way at all? I certainly haven't met one.
Report Abuse
04/08/2008 20:27:00

Blimey LD, we agree on something! As for the 12K it's just that Rebecca told be it was a lot less! ;-)
Bergkamp was a Myth
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04/08/2008 20:58:00

Now you've got me wondering! She's a lawyer, she'll bend the truth how she sees fit :-)
Little Dutch
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04/08/2008 21:51:00

what is the diff between this latest so-called mini tournies and those off-season money spinning tours? The club/players' mentality/commitment would never be the same as they contest the league/CL etc and scudamore is expecting to charge 40-100 pounds in ticket price? from an asian perspective, i seriously dont think many fans will be hoodwinked. I'll not pay anything beyond 10 pounds
Report Abuse
05/08/2008 01:38:00

The money won't come from the fans, it will come from the re-negotiation of TV rights with countries who will be hosting the "mini tournaments" A match may bring in £500,000 in ticket sales, but the TV could bring in as much as £5million per match shown, that would make playing in front of half full stands worthwhileas clubs then wouldn't care about the match day attendee's! It's a crap idea from a crap governing body with a crap track history and a lower than crap opinion of the fans! They must be told in no uncertain terms to get stuffed!
Report Abuse
05/08/2008 11:50:00

I wouldn't pay to go to any of this *****e. I know many fans here who either agree with me, or couldnt afford to go if they didn't.
Ozi Gooner
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05/08/2008 14:03:00

They (knobs behind this skeem) don't care about football, just money.
Report Abuse
05/08/2008 14:58:00

i dont think its a problem specially for Arsenal.....we send out a reserve team, discover a few more hidden gems and get paid for it...all this while the first team gets a good break...
Report Abuse
05/08/2008 15:44:00

Woo hoo! Flights booked for next week. Advice for anyone else looking to go, fly to Bremen on the cheap and get the train.
Little Dutch
Report Abuse
05/08/2008 16:37:00

Nice one LD! What's the price im looking at for a flight to Brehmen and with whom?
Report Abuse
05/08/2008 17:27:00

well written but after a bottle of red it takes three reads to undrerstand my man!
Report Abuse
05/08/2008 22:56:00

As the new season dawns.............whos top already!! hahahaha up the arsenal! Just hope it stays as it is SPUNKS™ will be right in the *****
Report Abuse
05/08/2008 23:00:00

Onto the topic.....arsenal play in england, every country in the world hates us so why ***** them off even more with our arrogance, eg USA having a NFL game at wembly
Report Abuse
05/08/2008 23:02:00


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