Wednesday, February 13, 2008
The 39th Step
The SBS brains trust have been apoplectic, with Phil Micallef slamming the plan in no uncertain terms, and Les Murray using it as a peg for a virulent rant about the poverty of English football (see the "Stoppage Time" video on the World Game site).
Apart from the obvious logistical problems, the most pertinent objection to the proposal is surely that it would exacerbate the European fixture crush, while adding to the players' travel burden as well. Yes, the players are paid exorbitantly by the Premiership clubs for their services these days, but the rigours of gruelling club seasons have their inevitable effect come the summer international tournaments, which are fast becoming exercises in energy-saving smash-and-grab in their latter stages.
The line about "sullying the integrity of the local leagues" I find less convincing, given that it would only be one or two games (to start with, anyway). But there's no denying that the plan could be harmful to the game at large, if it came to fruition.
Not surprisingly, the most clear-headed analysis has come from World Soccer magazine. Gavin Hamilton, rightly in my view, raises the possibility that the proposal may just be an ambit claim of sorts:
Call me a cynic, but I wonder whether the 39th matchday plan could be just a bargaining counter for the Premier League, whose long-term aim is to get the principle of playing games overseas accepted.
The 39th matchday idea has been so universally condemned that I can envisage a scenario whereby the Premier League drop such the proposal (responding to public opinion, of course) but use the debate to force home the principle of playing games overseas, maybe as part of the regular season.
And just by coincidence, I've recently been reading about the early history of the game in Europe, and have come across an instance of two English clubs playing a match against each other in foreign climes (Austria, to be exact) in...1905.
Nothing new under the sun.
my first taste of soccer was watching an fa cup on late night tv with some soccerfile friends. i arbitrarily chose arsenal (the other option was liverpool) for the night, and they became my team.
i enjoyed how they lost. i was drawn to the flawed genius of henry and the team. the strength and technique of vierra.
but eventually i lost the buzz. i didn`t like how vierra left. and when i learnt about the clubs history - i realised i was not connected to the club (boring boring arsenal), that i`d probably forget them when wenger leaves.
and with the reborn a-league, i started thinking (Why should i care about a team on the other side of the world?)
and it kinda stopped. but hey, thanks for getting me onto the sport arsenal.
ummm, random thoughts on the 39th stage.
sunderland versus wigan live might be a good advertisement for the a-league ; )
one extra league game adds an element of luck - when the difference between relegation and a championship can be one point ... that 1 game extra (against an easier opponent) could make a world of difference. one team gets drawn to get bludgeoned by chelsea while another similar team gets a crack at 3 points versus newcastle? I`d be whinging.
it locks out the local leagues. why not a set of charity shield type games with a premier league team against a local team? who knows? something like this may be the real goal ...
Difference is, that still involved a local side (rather than being a game between two foreign clubs, and a league fixture at that).
But I do think the whole "devaluing the local leagues" rhetoric is a bit overblown.
With globalisation the venue seems less important. How many Sydney fans only watch Sydney FC on Fox? Many more than go to the games I think. Therefore it is about increasing the scope of brands.
Man City tried to get Perth fans to wear their strip for away games - Northern Spirit anyone?
For example, do we fans of Premier League teams overseas deserve to be able to watch them play a match in our own country? After all, the Premier League will soon be bringing in more TV revenue from overseas than in England.
Great blog. If you get a chance, read some of my writings about the 39th Game over at EPL Talk at epltalk.com
Disagree with you on this one Mike.
If it's only one match each year, you're dead right. But if EPL teams playing competitive matches away from home is accepted, then the floodgates could open, with every other rich club/league wanting to get in on the act if a quick buck can be made.
Some of the more 'attractive' cities in Asia, as far as the marketers are concerned, may be hosting up to half a dozen high quality competitive fixtures each year. This could have a detrimental effect for local clubs in developing football nations.
Maybe not disastrous, but I just think this could set a dangerous precedent. Friendlies/exhibitions are fine.
Like the title by the way Mr Buchan ;o)
Some of the more 'attractive' cities in Asia, as far as the marketers are concerned, may be hosting up to half a dozen high quality competitive fixtures each year. This could have a detrimental effect for local clubs in developing football nations....
But would any Euro league other than the EPL be able to make anything other than a top-of-the-table clash viable? I don't think local (Euro) fans would stand for their teams playing anything other than one-offs O/S after a while either.
...Like the title by the way Mr Buchan ;o)...
Amazed no-one else has used it (as far as I've seen), TBH.
I would leave it at Arsenal who can play football.
Who would turn up and pay to watch Bolton play Reading etal